No Air

There may be a knob, but nothing's coming out of this sucker.

There may be a knob, but nothing’s coming out of this sucker.

Far be it from me to gripe about anything, but as long as we’re talking about how hot it is outside, let me just tell you how hot it really is. My trusty Camry has been in the shop for several days now, and I’m fortunate enough that my parents are letting me borrow the “farm truck.” The farm truck is a navy blue 1990 Isuzu Rodeo that my sister bought when she was in law school many, many moons ago. When she became an adult and got a real car, the Rodeo went to where vehicles go to die; our family farm. Flash forward about twenty years and five billion degrees and here you have me, driving the farm truck around town, with no air conditioning.

Now if you happen to be reading this above the Mason-Dixon Line and think you know what hot is; you don’t. Hot is walking around barefoot on fresh, black asphalt holding a large piece of metal on a highway that runs directly on the invisible line of the equator. Now add six gallons of boiling split-pea soup to account for the humidity. Take all of that, shove it in a pint size Ziploc bag and throw it in the microwave for sixty seconds. Now you have what it feels like in Alabama on any given day in June around 9:30 a.m. Take the bag out of the microwave and immediately open it with your bare hands, and you’ll have what it feels like by 9:45 a.m.

Anyway, when I dropped my Camry off at the mechanic’s shop and picked up the farm truck, I was just happy to have something to drive. The kids were in the back, we had the windows rolled down and I was raising my hands and bouncing up and down, “No air. Don’t care.” Let me tell you, that didn’t last long enough for my boys to finish rolling their eyes.
Imagine a metal box filled with coal.
Now imagine it on wheels.
Now imagine that it is on fire.
Now drive it.
Mother of all things holy, the only thing less ventilated than a 1990 Isuzu Rodeo is a gas chamber.

Ever the optimist, I decided to make driving the rolling convection oven fun. And what screams fun more than a sing-a-long!?! So if you happen to pass me on the road and I’m actually still lucid enough to maintain brain function, I will be singing my own version of the sort-of hit song, No Air, by American Idol winner, Jordan Sparks, and World Welterweight Champion, Chris Brown. If you’d like to sing along with me, you may find the karaoke version of the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ESPjnsWJQY and my personalized lyrics below:

“No Air”

Tell me how I’m supposed to drive with no air

If my car stays in the shop
I’ll get so hot that I may drop
It’s nice to have something to drive around but damn
Oh

My hair looks like it is half wet
Shirt is stained with under-boob sweat
Wish there was a way that I could turn on a fan

But how do you expect me
to drive around stuck to the seat
‘Cause my world revolves around air
It’s so hard for me to breathe

[Chorus:]
Tell me how I’m supposed to drive with no air
Can’t smile, can’t live with no air
Can’t wear makeup when there isn’t air
It’s no air, no air
Got me out here in humidity
Tell me how I’m gonna be lookin’ pretty
If there ain’t air, I just can’t be
It’s no air, no air

No air, air
No air, air
No air, air
No air, air

I walked, I ran, I jumped, I swam
Tried to forget the heat but damn
The South’s hotter than hell in mid-July

But somehow I’m still holding the wheel
Foot on the gas, burning my heel
Praying for wind, that will keep me alive

So how do you expect me
to drive around in this heat
‘Cause my real car is broken down
I’m stuck driving this big heap

[Chorus]

No air, air
No air, air
No air, air
No air, air
No more
It’s no air, no air

[Chorus]

No air, air
No air, air
No air, air
No air, air

Tell me how I’m supposed to drive with no air
Can’t eat, can’t sleep with no air
It’s how I feel whenever there’s no air
It’s no air, no air

Got me out here in the Rodeo
In the shade it’s one hundred and fo’
If there ain’t air, I can’t even go
It’s no air, no air

No air, air
No air, air
No air, air
No air

It may not be swanky, but it gets the job done. Unless the job is staying cool.

It may not be swanky, but it gets the job done. Unless the job is staying cool.

You’re Doing It Wrong

In the wake of the Zimmerman trial, I have seen articles from respected news forums about teens being slaughtered for having a Free Zimmerman bumper sticker on their car and a Hispanic man being beaten “for Trayvon.” These reports have been further investigated and have been exposed as false. But I saw the article on Facebook. One of my college educated friends shared it. It must be true, right? The sky is falling and many are blaming mainstream media sensationalism.

Can you blame them? I like to get my news from E!, personally, but you can’t walk into a coffee shop or waiting room without pretty, polished talking heads discussing the latest trial. They have countdown tickers at the bottom of the screen with the hours until the verdict is anticipated. They have forums to argue what the defendant should have worn to court. They profile the attorneys. They analyze juror reactions. They interview neighbors, old girlfriends, cousins-once-removed and fifth-grade teachers. And none of this stops when the verdict is reached.

I argue that it is not the mainstream media that perpetuates a legacy of stupidity, but it is social media that creates a frenzy of ignorance. Let us first agree that people who take the law into their own hands and perpetuate violence in the name of justice are ignorant people. Sure, they may be passionate. They may even be dynamic. But the bottom line is; they are ignorant. I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of these ignorant folks didn’t spend the bulk of their week watching continual trial coverage on HLN. Instead they saw a “news article” that one of their buddies shared on Facebook or a retweet of their favorite reality star’s “official” Twitter account.

 It is so easy for us to hit Like or Retweet or Share anything and everything. With the slightest touch of a finger, we perpetuate false information. We copy and paste quotes from articles via The Onion like they came from CNN. And even more scary is that this same internet is being used by college interns to sort the facts from the fiction before head writers and producers plant the information in front of the anchor or into the field reporter’s ear.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of social media. My addiction to Twitter, Facebook and now Snap Chat is only rivaled by my dependence on diet sodas mid-morning and white wine at bedtime. The thing is, I earned a college degree back in the stone ages when you had to actually go to a library and open a book. There was no internet. If you googled someone back then, you’d probably get slapped in the face. But even then, a cursory glance around the fraternity social would make it painfully obvious that the world is peopled with idiots. The only difference was, if we wanted to create mass hysteria, we had to get out a phone book and call all of our friends individually and hope to God we didn’t get a busy signal. It took days to plan what we would do on a Friday night and where the hell we’d meet. Heaven forbid you get the time wrong. You’d never figure out where everybody was!

Now don’t get all riled up and think I’m being mean to the younger generations. As hard as I had it in college, at least I didn’t have to walk to school in the snow, up hill both ways like my parents did. I could go on and on about how today’s college kids are more active and proactive in the direction of their own lives, our country and our world; due in large part to social media. (For instance, did you know that young Libyans organized their revolt and eventual eradication of Gaddafi via Twitter? It’s true. Google it.) It’s not just my younger counterparts who are oozing virtual oafishness. Out of my 900+ Facebook friends, it’s hard to find more than a handful of thoughtful, intelligent posts on any given day, and this likelihood decreases exponentially during football season. Sometimes, it is the older generation that leads the charge toward mindlessness. It’s called Snopes, Grandma. And if you don’t know how to use Photoshop, then you probably shouldn’t share a bunch of really unbelievable pictures that you saw on Facebook.

If Betty Sue came to your house and told you that your mother had lost her leg in a freak price check incident at the Piggly Wiggly, you’d probably pick up the phone and call your mama to make sure she was okay. But if Betty Sure posted an article on FaceBook about mutant monkeys holding twelve hostage at a Wal-Mart in Tuscaloosa, fourteen people would share it coupled with their non-spell-checked commentary on the state of our world due to Obama (if you’re South of Atlanta) or Paula Deen (if you’re North of West Virginia). Is it really too much to ask that we think for 3.4 seconds before we click Like, Share or Retweet? Far be it from me to tell anyone how to live, but if you give more thought to what you want on your pizza than you do the articles, images and statements that you are exhibiting to the world as a representation of the person that you are; then you are doing it wrong.

What If I Went?

My latest television obsession is The Week the Women Went. I stumbled across it while I was flipping channels and the premise intrigued me. Basically, the shows produces found a small town entrenched in stereotypical, traditional roles. Most of the women were stay-at-home mothers and their husbands worked long hours or worked away from the home. The mothers took care of the majority of the housework and child rearing and the fathers worked hard so they could do so. The women who worked were hands-on business owners who were an integral part of both their business and their home.  Then the producers removed all of the women (age 18 or older) from the town for one week; leaving the men and children to fend for themselves.

The producers throw in some usual occurrence oddities, like a little girls beauty pageant, which the fathers have to take care of, thus throwing them even more out of their comfort zone. Two of the guys decide to tag team and live together for the week; which sounds good in theory, but sometimes less is more – especially when it comes to 15 month old children.

One young man (who still lives at home with Mama) proposes to his girlfriend just as the women are leaving. The poor girl says yes and then boards a train with her future mother-in-law (who didn’t know the proposal was going to take place) and leaves for what could prove to be a very interesting period of getting to know her future family.

There is a single mother on the show. She leaves her three kids (two girls age 15 and 12 and a son who is not much younger than that) with her boyfriend of 7 months; a young, handsome, never-been-married Marine. I don’t have a young, hot boyfriend with whom I could leave my kids, so they would have to stay somewhere else.  It will be interesting to see what happens with this particular family. The marine, age 24, doesn’t qualify to date me based on my Chronological Chart of Eligibility. Corey’s Chronological Chart of Eligibility basically states that 1) in order to be dateable, a man must be at least double the age of my oldest child and 2) must not have a single son who also falls into this age group. Nothing is more awkward than dumping a guy for his kid, so I find it best not to put myself in that situation. Anyway, this Marine is not even double the age of his new teenage charge, therefore I’m not sure I would have left her with him, but to each his own. Either he is going to man up and be the marrying type, or he is going to request a transfer to a new base before the week is halfway through.

My first thought when I started watching was that the men would be crying in no time and the children would realize just how amazing their mothers were. But before the first episode was over, I started to wonder if that is what would really pan out. I think the men will gain a new appreciation for the women in their lives, but what about the women? How will they survive this week away? Then the horrible question popped into my head, “What would happen if I went?”

I’m a business owner and single mother of two boys. I get the kids dressed and fed and off to school, open and run my business, pick them up from school, help with homework, grocery shop, pick up from football practice and volunteer at the school – all while training a puppy! I’m Wonder Woman, right? I know two parent families who don’t juggle as much as I do in a week. My world would fall apart if I left for a week…or would it?

I suppose my children would stay with their father, or perhaps my parents. I could write payroll checks and write up daily plans for my store and leave it with my employees. But unlike the women on the show who have the majority of their identity based in being a wife and mother, I am used to being away from my kids. They visit their father every other weekend and for a few weeks over the summer. I enjoy my free time and am not one to pine away and wonder what the little angels are doing without me.

The part that scares me is the curiosity – fear, even – that someone else can not only do what I do, but do it better. What if the kids do better in school? What if they don’t fight as much with each other? What if they drop five pounds or start cleaning their room or worse; what if they figure out that I’m not that good at being a mom? What if sales increase at my store? What if shoppers enjoy it more when I’m not there? What if the atmosphere is better? What if the displays are more creative? What if the only thing keeping my good life from being great is me?

The Week the Women Went airs on Tuesday nights at 9:00 Central on Lifetime, and I’ll be tuning in each week as this social experiment unfolds. I’m a little apprehensive to watch, since most of the reality television I watch makes me feel better about myself – you know, the girls on the Bachelor are cuter than me, but they aren’t usually that bright – but this show has already proved to be a catalyst for some deep thought and self reflection. I hope that by the conclusion, I have learned as much as the actual people in the experiment. Or at least maybe I’ll learn how to get a 24 year old Marine to date me.

Five Reasons Southern Girls Don’t Get Punched in the Face

Over the past few years, I suppose I’ve had my fair share of antics, and every now and again, I’m even told that I should have my own reality show. But to date, Andy Cohen hasn’t called me, so I’ve devoted my time to running a small boutique. I think I’m at least as interesting as the Real Housewives and maybe even the Jersey Shore people, but still – no television show. Now that I’ve thought about it, I have decided the problem isn’t me, per se, the issue is that I don’t ever get punched in the face. It seems like more fights break out on reality TV shows than at hockey games, so that must be the crucial missing element to my life. The issue this poses for me is that I will more than likely never be punched in the face. Why, you ask? Because I’m Southern, and Southern girls don’t get punched in the face. Seriously. They don’t. So in an effort to explain why I don’t have my own reality television show, here are the top five reasons Southern girls rarely, if ever, get punched in the face.

  1. Southern girls don’t talk badly about people. Oh, we talk, but we don’t say anything bad. For instance, Olivia may leave the Gatsby and head to a bar with friends. While there, she may see one of her arch enemies and decide to speak badly about said nemesis. Southern girls; we just don’t do that. Our Mamas taught us if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. We would never flat out say that some girl was a fat cow. First and foremost, that girl is most assuredly friends with a chick named Karma, and we have no desire to meet up with her in a dark alley. Therefore, we would simply and nicely say something like, “I declare, if it doesn’t look like Stephanie accidentally tripped and swallowed a washing machine, bless her heart.” You see, poor Stephanie isn’t fat. Oh, no! She just looks fat. And we are just calling a spade a spade; and there is nothing mean or malicious about pointing out the obvious. We are more than happy to help out others by making excuses for them such as, “It must be that time of the month, God love her, as she looks swole up something awful.” A mean girl would never cut a rival slack like that and help justify their portly appearance. That’s why they get punched in the face.
  2. All groups of Southern girls – yes, Southern girls travel in groups – have at least one member who look like they accidentally tripped and swallowed a washing machine. She is usually the funny one with a cute face that everyone clamors over and wants to stand next to in group pictures. Have you ever heard of one of those trainers at Sea World getting involved in a riot and getting punched in the face? Of course not. And do you know why that is? Because they hang out with Shamu. And nobody messes with Shamu. Did that Sea World trainer look at your boyfriend funny? Did she accidentally knock over your bar stool? That’s okay. No worries. Let it go! Why? Because she’s standing next to Shamu, that’s why.
  3. Southern girls carry guns. That’s right, guns. Not mace or pepper spray or Tasers or Duct tape (although we usually have some of that, too), but guns. And we actually carry them. We don’t leave them in our purse, or store them in the glove box of the car, or put them on the top shelf of our closet; we carry them in sleek, form-fitting holsters that fit right into the back waistband of our designer jeans. There is one in the chamber and plenty more in the clip, and we use high quality hollow point bullets. Only the best for us, baby, and we have a spare clip ready so we don’t ever find ourselves in that terrible position by which we break a freshly manicured nail because we had to reload in haste. Now, do you know anyone who would intentionally take a fist to a gun fight? I didn’t think so.
  4. Southern girls know how to handle drunk assholes. Now, I promised my Daddy I would try not to cuss so much, but dammit, there is no other word for some of these people. See, if you’re a girl it is inevitable that at some point in your life you will get hit on by a non-desirable. Your chances increase greatly if the guy is drunk, and your chances seriously increase if you are Southern. I’d like to say we don’t get punched in the face because the world is filled with chivalrous gentlemen, but considering there is a well- known saying, “Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince,” this is just not statistically feasible. The thing is, a Southern girl would never yell at some guy to get his filthy hands off of her when he grabs her arm and says something like, “I bet you could really heat things up if you took off that dress.” We would politely tilt our chin down and look up at him through our lashes and smile as we respond, “Oh, Honey, I assure you, when I take my pistol out and help you meet the devil, you’re going to be so hot you won’t be able to handle it.” Guys dig honey coated speech, regardless of what is being said. And drunk, stupid guys are usually too distracted by the lashes and the pad of our index finger at the top of their collar as we give them a shove backward that the morons don’t even realize they are getting turned down. Therefore, we get hit on, but never hit.
  5. In the South, everybody knows your Mama. I don’t care if you work at Wal-Mart or own the bank, if you’re from the South; everybody knows your Mama. They have gone to Sunday School with her for 47 years, or they play bridge with her at the Club, or somebody once dropped a big stack of mail in front of the post office and your Mama jumped out of her car and helped them pick it all up. But trust me; somewhere, somehow, some way – everybody knows your Mama. If you think for one instance that you can punch a poor, sweet Southern Girl in the face and her Mama won’t know about it before your hand finishes it’s follow-through, you are sorely mistaken. And the only thing worse than a woman scorned is a crossed up Southern Mama whose little darling doodle-pie just got punched in the face. She will bring the full fury of hell upon you in front of God and everybody, and then when she is done; she will call your own Mama and tell her to come pick you up.

So in summary, I’ve never been punched in the face and I don’t have a reality show. But not to despair; I know over 47 analogies for fat people, I’ve got a great group of friends, a swell pistol, fantastic eyelashes and everybody knows my Mama.

Another Man’s Guitar

With a subtle shrug of his shoulders, responsibility fell to the floor. He gently grasped history and began to strum the tune of his dreams. Timidly at first, soaking in the moment, he picked out the notes of his childhood. Soon the notes became chords and the chords became a strain – a symphony of aspirations suppressed but not forgotten. His awe of the instrument began to blend with his joy of the music and soon the two were so intertwined that he could not make a distinction between the harmony of his wonder and his revelry. Time that seemed to speed up as his body slowed down, suddenly came to a halt, and he was suspended in the moment. He clung to the old guitar just as the great ones before him. They had walked the line and triumphed through fire and fear and miles of hopeless desperation. Every sound – whether from the fingers of the man in black or the hands of the crowds that cheered for him – led up to this singular occasion in time. Every tear, every bead of sweat, every sleepless night or drunken stupor, every confession of love or rush of angry emotion; now lay softly on his lap. The melody swirled around him, awakening the child within, and renewing his passion. But time, cruel as she is, put life back into motion. And as the chorus faded into the air, he found himself back in his office. His profession beckoned; there was much to be done. Deadlines and details waited in tidy stacks for him to handle. Phones chirped and voices echoed through the halls. The guitar case was closed like a vault before he even had time to grasp his surroundings, much less bid the instrument farewell. But the strings of remembrance could still be felt on his fingertips and the contentment of his first love still rang in his ears. As he slowly stood up, dutifully ready to get back to the trappings of adulthood, the lyrics of his anthem  danced once more through his mind, “I’m old enough to have drawn blood, yet still young enough to bleed.”

My old friend, Dutch, had the opportunity to play Luther Perkins' guitar today. It was the guitar used by Johnny Cash to record Walk the Line. For one of the most incredible musicians to never make the big time, I'm sure this was an awesome experience. I wasn't there to witness it, but this is how it went in my mind.

I Can Handle That.

There is something about being honest with yourself. Sometimes I think we are more honest with other people than we are with ourselves. But then again, there are those of us that just hear whatever we want to hear regardless of what is actually being said. Generally speaking, there are a few phrases that tend to be confusing for many people. These phrases are “I just want to be friends” and “I can handle that.”

“I just want to be friends” is a phrase often uttered by a male to a female. What the guy is really trying to convey to the girl in this situation is “I just want to be friends.” But in many cases, what the female hears is “I just want to be friends with you right now, but I bet if we were to continue to hang out together, like all the time, and you did a bunch of nice stuff for me like my laundry or cook things for me or have sex with me a lot; I bet I would wake up one day and realize that I’m actually in love with you and that nothing would make me happier than making you my wife.”

Similarly, when a woman is in a conversation with a man and he says something like “I just want to be friends,” she may reply with the phrase “I can handle that.”  Now what the female really means in this instance is “I can tell myself that I can handle that and I can do my best to constantly suppress my true feelings for you while falling deeper and deeper in love with you, and then I will beat myself up over the fact that you were honest with me from the start and I was really the stupid one to think I could handle it even though I can’t so it’s really my fault and not your fault at all; and now the only real question is whether I should totally loose it emotionally and go off the deep end in a public place, preferably in front of your new girlfriend and your coworkers, or if I should eat nothing but Ben and Jerry’s until I’ve gained fifty pounds and only leave the house when I absolutely must go to the grocery to buy food for the seven cats I’ve adopted from the local shelter, most of which are mange ridden and unlovable – just like me, or if maybe I should just start using meth and become a back alley hooker.” Although this seems implied, many men do not actually take this away from that simple phrase. What they incorrectly hear and understand is, “She can handle that.”

So is it that we are not honest with each other? Or is it that we seem to just hear what we want to hear and say what we think people want us to say? I think guys and girls do this equally. Or maybe girls do it a little more than guys do. I’m not sure where I’m going with this except maybe this: If you love someone and they tell you they just want to be friends, just be honest with yourself. You can’t handle that. Just walk away. If you haven’t really changed, but you want to; don’t say you’ve changed. Say that you haven’t changed, but that you want to. I’m all for that “if you can believe it you can achieve it” bull-crap, but you know what? Saying it doesn’t make it so. If it did, I’d be a size two, tan person living off my monthly interest payments on my vast fortune amassed from sales of my best-selling novels.

Asunder

She sat quietly, steeping in curiosity, counting time on her fingers. One’s dawn was the other’s twilight. Separated by more than time and distance; two ends of the spectrum never to meet, much less collide. One anxiously waiting; the other willing time to slow to an end. Stomping on concrete and rolling over sand, duty and boredom and wonder filled their days. Loved from a distance, separated from a life once known; the closest of strangers poured out their secrets into the wind. They swirled with the currents and intertwined before dissipating; the remains slowly waltzing to the ground. Their lives and dreams and delusions all lay shamelessly, basking on the sweet scented softness of the fresh-cut summer grass. As her eyes closed, his eyes opened; and they found themselves once again alone.