COLORBLIND

He was a fast machine, kept his motor clean, and was the best darn thing since Steve McQueen. Nuptials followed.

To say that she was frustrated was an understatement. Amanda and I met about thirteen years ago. Shortly thereafter, she met her husband and sparks flew. They married, bought a home, and settled into married life. And for awhile there, he shook her all night long. Then there was a gradual decline in their wall shaking and earth quaking activity. When Scott did make a move, he resembled the Vitamix high powered blender with its speedy performance. She wanted more of a concrete mixer that is known for its consistent high intensity yet slow churning mechanism. Once the honeymoon wore off, Amanda found out Scott’s true colors and the reality of how long lovemaking for the married normally lasts. Sexual connection was like trying to bat a baseball with a clothesline. Being the fairly smart woman that she was, she made the unselfish decision to tape a life size poster of Scarlett Johansson’s lustful lips to the ceiling directly above their bed. Which was only fair, since she kept a framed picture of Robert Downey Jr. close by.

The delicate subject of sex should be handled with care, and a good color palette. They say if you paint a room the shade of your lovers eyes, you will be linked passionately to that person forever. Apart from recruiting a sex therapist to initiate intimacy, Amanda used the mood enhancing strategy of purchasing a gallon of fresh paint to give the bedroom new pizzaz. An aphrodisiac of sorts, without a dozen bluepoint oysters, Spanish fly, eclectic mix of mojo intensifiers, or resorting to finding a new husband. I suppose it’s better to have loved and divorced than to have lived with somebody that doesn’t like the horizontal Hokey Pokey. Mrs. Right Now wanted something that would give her mate a reminder that she still existed. So she decided to eliminate the surrounding despair that was already coating the bedroom drywall. The uninspiring color withstanding was called Snakebite Leather. It fueled the longing for a genuine python purse, but it didn’t bring out the animal in Scott.

Amanda attempted to pick a motivating new shade from the hefty amount of hues found in color swatches. I went with her to Lowe’s, that great big tool shed of trinkets that employs people to solve certain problems in daily life. Which normally includes leaky pipes and worn out patio furniture. She only wished she had those problems instead. We noticed one aisle sold fans, something that would benefit her if she ended up being super hot and sweaty. Another aisle sold ropes, chains, cable ties, and lubricants, arousing our suspicion that the multi-selectional superstore also provides sexually transmitted teases. We bypassed those lures and proceeded to the paint section.

In the weeks that followed, Amanda tried painting in pale tones. But yellow initiated sleep, not sex. Blue Velvet might have been marvelous for a movie, but it’s also the color of Smurfs, bruises, and toilet bowl cleaner, which ended up nauseating Scott instead of inspiring him. She also considered the serene color Almond Toast, thinking she could have sex AND breakfast in bed. Next thing she knew, her hubby had nut and toasted sandwich crumbs ground into her sheets. Then she painted the walls English Toffee, but needed to go on a strict diet. The truth remained that if Amanda had tinted the walls anything food related, she might have needed a forklift to get her out of the house. And Scott would have likely been feasting from a party platter rather than gazing sensuously at his wife. She tried the Benjamin Moore color called Grandma’s Sweater, but Amanda didn’t want to be in the sack counting down the days till she was a white-haired matriarch. And the color Elephant’s Breath would have been a sickening reminder of what permeates from mouths every morning. Sherwin Williams was no help either. Though it provided the dazzling tone Poseidon, their concentration would have been averted to boat disasters. She could have painted the bedroom bright neon orange, and still nothing would have instigated her significant other.

Amanda even thought of altering her painting plans by taking him to a candlelit cabin deep in the woods. Which could have been good, unless it was Friday the 13th, or the cabin is in Texas and they heard a chain saw. Amanda thought that breast enlargement would increase her chances of togetherness. But the cost of wanting children outweighed that idea. She constantly felt the indiscriminate distrust of remote controls, exacerbated by every Sports channel available. Especially when they take precedence over ‘parking the car in the garage.’ She finally went to Victoria Secret and picked out the teeniest cheekini she could find and bought one in every color. But with Scott’s sightless eyes, she wasn’t knocking him out with her American thighs. Amanda soon found out that Scott was colorblind. By then, she visualized the one thing she could do with her leftover wedding matches. Except she did wonder how she would she sleep if the bedroom was burning.

We gals entertain an average of fifty thoughts a minute, one of which focuses on lovin’. At the end of the day, we want our souls to be rejuvenated, our hair messy, and our eyes sparkly with sensual completion. In order to shift from sweats and granny panties to super sexy takes shopping, for just about anything and everything that might stimulate the senses. Now one would think that Scott was a lucky, lucky man. Till he got the bill.

Amanda ended up working overtime in the seduction line at Lowe’s when she realized that all colors aren’t created equal. After she couldn’t find a paint named Let’s Get it On, Amanda settled for blue. In pill form. And they lived happily ever after.

(Posts can be seen in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

RETAIL THERAPY

They say shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist. I go with some regularity, to shop that is. But I probably need my head examined because stores can be energy-draining, wallet-sucking, magical masses of pulsating jubilation. At least when you’re on the buying side of the register. I’ve noticed that foot traffic takes the luster out of flooring, and usually takes the luster out of me if I go home empty handed. I hardly qualify as a hoarder. A collector maybe. How many outfits does a gal need? And all those knick knacks lying around, I do realize they are good for nothing. But I’m holding onto them till they become good for something. Stuffing a house with a gargantuan of goods may get in the way of a proper financial future, and could also block the way to the bathroom. I need a clear path since I go with unceasing punctuality.

Which reminds me. It never fails that I have to frequent a public restroom while shopping and dining out. The amount of adrenaline released that sends me into an excited state, also sends me to the nearest restroom. Then I stand there for eternity waiting for touchless faucets to provide H2O just so I can wash my hands. And the person I am with is ready to put out a missing person’s report. I was in a restaurant lavatory recently, completely embarrassed of our country’s fixture contractors for installing the new sensor systems, when a foreigner and non-foreigner can’t even get them to function. One French woman was in there with me so long her dinner got cold and hard, which I am convinced was taken away and converted into scrap metal. It was a time I wished I had paid closer attention to my French lessons and not been passing notes in class to cute boys. It was distressing not being able to explain this field researched contraption to the poor lady. I tried asking if she wanted help, and every time she said yes yes (Oui Oui), I thought she still had some toileting to do. By the time I was finished decrypting her vocabulary, I had to wee wee again myself. But who knows. The amount of time I spent in that restroom I probably saved in spending lots of dollars elsewhere.

If you’ve noticed, most everything is laborious, exhausting, fattening, and expensive. There has become this strategy of pulling money out of conscientious shoppers. Employees stand at entrances trying to lure you in and act rather irregularly if you don’t accommodate them. One stood at the door of a designer store giving me that pouty puppy dog look. I would have gone in, but the stress of becoming a lovelorn dressaholic when seeing their price tags causes me lasting damage to my retinas. I wanted to formulate a comeback that accurately revealed my feelings. But sobbing doesn’t become me. She could have easily earned a trophy for her growling performance when I walked away. They really try to twist your fragile mind into a funnel of eternal spending. It didn’t keep me from salivating over their windowed goodies. It totally turns me into Wonder Woman. Able to think rationally about what I’m resisting, and can soar to a clearance sale in a single bound. Anyway, my doctor told me I won’t really die if I don’t get those designer sandals. I do have this staunch conviction that shoes are not a luxury item. If you get them at Payless.

I worked in retail once when I was a teen. It was the worst five hours of my life. Half the time I was sifting through boxes in the stock room looking for that particular article of clothing for a customer. Because back then, we didn’t have a computerized inventory system. They had young people like me doing the grunt work. Back room shelves were so stuffed with merchandise that it was hard to find anything. And gee, I loved any day when I could spend the remainder of my lunch hour stiffened between packaged goods since we were short staffed just to find out that an item was out of stock. Because when your assignment is to sell something, it’s a good idea to know if there are none or a hundred of them. I maintained an air of professionalism when I stuck my tongue out at the woman who was waiting for me to return with her garment. With a certain tone she inquired, “What on earth were you doing back there?” Like I was hunting elk or something. The tongue fling happened after she turned her back and walked away saying she would never again shop at our store. Things wouldn’t have gotten out of hand had the woman helped me search instead of swearing for two hours. I was always running the risk of coming across an emotionalist, a perfectionist, and a miserablist. If there been a dumpster behind the building and two burly men available, I would have activated an indecent disposal. But a boss once told me, “The customer is always right.” So by an astounding stroke of luck, she got the privilege to go on existing. I suppose all the people we encounter should merit some consideration. But what about the ones who call us a dimwit? And by the way, I wouldn’t stick my tongue out at anyone today unless the many muscles in my mouth lose control and it expands completely by itself.

Seems like shopping can never buy happiness. If I buy something I’m guilty and remorseful. And if I don’t buy something I’m guiltless, but remorseful for not buying it. There’s an underlying problem with this thing called conspicuous consumption. We are taxed, rendering goods more expensive than they really are. My mother advised me to shop around. She may have been referring to men. But I’m more certain she meant the malls, and every outlet store in the country.

(Posts can be seen in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

STAR SPANGLED BANTER

You’d think that 4th of July on the lovely island of Coronado would be a genteel gathering, entertained by festive parades people, three barges full of fireworks on the Bay, and every single place that sold alcohol. Which prompted certain attendees to inebriate themselves well into the night. Or in my case, well into the wee hours of the morning.

I admit that I fall into the category of ‘not perfect’ myself. So I don’t really care if Jimmy cracks corn, what Mary did with her little lamb, or that Kookaburra sat in the old gum tree eating all the gumdrops he could see. But despair sometimes overcomes a woman who is severely rest restricted by sounds of drunken alley cats. And these are not things that meow.

I realize that partying is a favorite pastime in many countries worldwide. But it can also lead to cirrhosis, crazy composure, and people passing out in alleyways. I just wish these particular well lubricated participants picked some other alley. My guess is that they skipped coffee and went straight to liquor. Now Coronado is not normally known for having homeless people. Banging tons of plastic and talking loudly at 2am is not a sensible way of summoning exhausted people from their beds. I was awakened abruptly to what sounded like a shopping cart overturning with empty bottles falling, and a man yelling, “C’mon, get up! Let’s boogie!” Then a female voice responded, “Bu I caann’t geup!” Boogying would have been okay had they been in the middle of a dance studio during normal living hours. Intellectually speaking, they were pretty much on equal verbal terms with chimpanzees.

This went on for forty-eight and a half sleepless minutes. It wouldn’t have been richer if they weighed themselves down with a tub of ice cream and ten pounds of butter. I was concerned for their health, well being, and getting the heck out of there so I could resume my snoozing. They must have had a limited supply of burgers and hot dogs which might have absorbed some of their liquor intake. It’s not the first time people have been wasted in an alley. But I wanted to occupy my sleeping hours with something other than hearing rotational slurring. Let me put it this way. If I didn’t get adequate shuteye, my face was going to fall onto the plate at the following evening’s dinner party.

Everyone loves a mystery with a suspenseful plot. Which is why I plotted to approach the mysterious twosome in a non-threatening manner, then see how things unfold. I was close to asking cell phone Siri what they were doing out there. Instead, I walked outside to find a pair of prize winning plastered people simulating the Irish yoga. Or what we yoga practitioners call the downward dog, then rounding onto their backs and resting comfortably so they could smoke cigarettes and jabber away under the stars. Maybe they were testing the cement to see if it was roadworthy. Although I feared that some amateur car racers would flatten them, since they traditionally use alleys for speedways. Getting run over may be God’s way of telling drunken homeless people that their luck has run out.

Sometimes the best things in life involve lying with a pal, staring at the sky, and telling stories. But with alcohol linked, I can assure you that no long drawn out story ever started with someone drinking water. I would have offered the couple pillows and a blanket, but I would have been afraid they’d ask me for a nightcap. I wanted to run to the Bay with a bucket and return fully prepared to baptize them back to reality by restoring their mobility with a cold splash to the face. Some women dream of getting horizontal in a dimly lit place on their dates. Being liquored up can lead to nudity, and possibly an unplanned pregnancy. I had to wipe away any more thoughts on that scenario. I also dispelled the illusion that they were homeless after noticing their nice clothes and groomed appearances. But I shook my head wondering, why the shopping cart? I only hoped the staggering sillies didn’t work at the bank that I go to, handling my money. I finally got around to politely asking if they would move it along. Fifty minutes later I still heard the commotion. I should have known that alley concrete was a magnet for Squatters.

I walked out a second time simply to observe the situation. The guy was trying to lift the limp woman who had minimal to no acceleration. It was like hoisting a hundred and forty pound sack of potatoes. Then he attempted to wrap her hands around the handle of the shopping cart. At that point, his cumbrous companion buckled and fell to her knees. The man caught sight of me and said his mate lived a block away. “I’m trying to take her home” he uttered. “Give me a minute.” Little did he know I had already given him ninety-eight minutes. And a half. I’m sure at one point or another her parents thought she was the cutest gol’ darn thing that ever pranced the planet. I didn’t want to sound like a bitterness monger, so I offered the bright bulby idea to have him pick her up, run her home, then return for his coveted cart. I told him I would guard it with my life. He thought that was a swell idea, mostly because he knew where I slept if it came up missing. He reassured me that they would soon be gone. It’s probably because they finally felt 100% radiant once they got their moon tan.

I should employ a videotaping crew and start a new show called Candid Camera- the Big Boozer series. There may be more drunkards out there who are daring enough to be caught on film.

(Posts can be seen in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

HOCUS FOCUS

Focus is important, if you’re a telescope. Or over sixty. I used to be able to do five things at once. Now, if I had ten dollars for every time my brain experiences distractional difficulties, I’d be an extremely wealthy pre-occupied woman. So I’m not excited knowing one day I will be braced in a rocker tooting scented methane from lentils and devoting the rest of my dementia based attention span to watching movies….while I’m drooling.

Anything you can do, I can do slower. One morning last week I went to rid my closet of old clothes. My bladder let me know that I better empty it so I proceeded to the bathroom where I began flossing, since I forgot to do it earlier. Then I saw my reflection in the mirror and got sidetracked again having to cream my Crow’s Feet, which are the length of the Tai Lake Region of China. That’s when I realized I needed some stain control toothpaste, and a new nightgown. Which made me think about the psychology behind a TJ Maxx dressing room sign I saw that read: Go ahead. Get it. You know you want it.

After my bathroom stay, I detoured to the computer to write an email when those pop-ups began being obtrusive. Although I fell for it. I went from zero to card in sixty seconds and got one of those Capital One credit contraptions. Then I turned on the TV whereas I pretended to pay attention to the more pressing task of closet consolidation. Everyone knows clutter breeds contempt. I glued myself to the tube also pretending to be Vanna White. Except I needed to be wearing a pretty new dress like hers. I almost broke capillaries yelling out vowels to the losing contestant. The last time I’d been that focused was when scores of squad cars chased OJ’s Bronco down the San Diego freeway.

For several minutes there, I did get sucked into the subliminal messaging that commercials provide. All I know is that I left the house, stopped for a box of advertised Triscuits baked with sweet potato, and called the Geico guy on my way to look at Lexus luxury sedans. Then I headed straight to T.J. Maxx. Something told me that I should have a sinful new sheer negligee, so I asked the salesgirl which aisle the insurance was in. I did remember to fill up my gas tank, but failed to wipe the cream remains from around my eyes. Sometimes I wonder how I ever raised children. I could have half dressed them and dropped them off at the dry cleaners before leaving the laundry at school. Except I still believe brining Brussels sprouts in Kool-Aid is a perfectly suitable solution for picky eaters.

The weekend wasn’t any better. I went to clean out the closet again and realized that there are tons of ways to fight the battle of dissatisfaction during bathing suit season. They’re all hanging on the racks at T.J. Maxx. Before venturing back to that divine gold mine, I called a friend and hummed happy birthday to him. He said his birthday wasn’t until November. I used to be so good about marking everyone’s special day in my calendar, then like clockwork, mail out sentiments. But it got to the point of asking myself, “Did I send a card to so-and-so?” And if I send out another one, would they think I’m a dodo for sending two? Or wonder, “She must really like me!” Odds are that they’ll think I’ve further depleted some brain spores. One of my daughters tells me that a tiny picture of genetic senility swirls around in her head saying ‘It’s happening to me too!’ She kind of hates me for that. She also says, “You could have had a starring role in Eternal Sunshine of the Worthless Mind.”

I attempted the closet condensing again yesterday. But I thought it would be so much nicer if there was music playing, my primary source of entertainment other than my boyfriend. Whereas I was prepared to perform an epic closet concert while deciding which clothes to discard. I went to open a new CD, but it was wrapped so tightly I couldn’t uncover it. I’d like to have a serious chat with designers of the audio packaging industry. It’s equally as aggravating trying to fasten Ziploc bags with those so-called secure seals. I spend more time pressing down on those doohickies than it would have taken if I’d wrapped my food twenty times in saran wrap and stapled the edges. But before going back to the email, and my closet, back to my CD. I looked for the box cutter and started organizing the junk drawer. Someday I just might need twenty year old batteries and various Chinese take-out fortune cookie quotes. Do you think there was anything in there that would release that chokehold the cellophane had on my CD? I finally found the utility knife and retracted the bladed edge slicing myself. So I ran to the bathroom to try on my new eye shadow. Meanwhile, my grilled cheese was burning on the stove. I was curious though. I wanted to know what the patrolling police officers were doing circling the neighborhood. It was a good thing I wasn’t doing something really nefarious like manslaughtering someone and conspiring to flee via the San Diego freeway.

We are all visitors passing through this place. Our purpose here is to observe, or not, grow old gracefully, love what we have, and return to what we were doing when we’ve lost our way. I could be doing something far more sensational with my life if mindlessness and clutter wasn’t so eager to give me constant intrusions. Possession is nine-tenths of the devil’s law. Unless those possessions come from T.J.Maxx. Sometimes I’m the Scarecrow with straw for brains. But how can I be Cinderella if I don’t have a new dress?

(Posts can be found in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)