Wine Before Five
Because Life is Good. And Sweet. And Short
Art Linkletter was right, kids do say the darndest things, but he might have enjoyed interviewing some adults, too. Not nearly as cute and adorable, but some comments can sure make your eyes flutter wide open. Here are a few that have stuck in my mind. Yes, my mildly sometimes-snarky mind that never forgets a snob.
*As our moving van was being unloaded one sunny day, a new next-door neighbor stopped by. How thoughtful! No, not really – the kids were running around, the dog was running around, the husband was nowhere around, the moving guys were running around — putting things hither and yon — and this lady thought it was a good time for a thirty minute chat in the concrete driveway at 3 PM in the humid heat that you can only find on an August afternoon in south Florida. After what she clearly thought was surreptitiously inventorying our furniture and boxed possessions, Mrs. Nosey Neighbor looked me square in the eye and said “You’re not going to put up some big gaudy and awful light display on the front lawn for Christmas are you?!!!” Quite honestly, that was the furthest thing from my mind, and I hadn’t planned to, but now that she’d mentioned it, I was seriously reconsidering. Go home, woman.
*After planning a holiday party for Wilma’s classroom at the request of her teacher, I received a call from another mother asking for the details. “How nice!” I thought. I shared that I’d sewn cute felt reindeer face treat bags, painted little wooden heart ornaments & personalized them with each child’s name & the year on one side & the name of the school on the other, filled the reindeer bags with candy treats, planned several games… “OH!” she gasped. “Oh NO!” ??? No? She ended the call. Two days later, Mrs. Shocked Mother called back to say, “Well, your party plans will be all right. I talked to some people and found out you’re not from here, so you just didn’t know how to plan a party.” Really? She’d polled others about me? And now I was being given some sort of conditional pass – because of my serious shortcoming of “not being from here?” Games, treats, favors… What had I missed for early elementary school kids? Coloring books. Silly me! I hadn’t bought coloring books. Took the lazy way out, just sewing and painting and – oh, never mind. It worked out: Mrs. Shocked Mother Who-Was-From-Here brought coloring books to the party. I’ll admit: I did quietly smile when some of the kids left them behind at the end of the day, but they all took their ornaments and treat bags. 🙂
*Having volunteered to plan a classroom party in a state where we lived before the Coloring Book State, I received a call from a mom who was also on the committee. I invited her to come to my house for lunch one day so we could plan. “Well,” she responded (I could tell something really big was coming) “my husband is a chiropractor, so of course we live in Feathertree, so you should come here instead.” Ok, then, Mrs. Feathertree, I’ll be there at the appointed time. (She didn’t invite me for lunch. In fact, she didn’t even ask if my husband was a chiropractor.) We both lived in a planned community, where all the neighborhoods ran together and pretty much looked alike to me. The inside of her house looked just like mine, too. But I’ll admit: Wilt is not a chiropractor, and we didn’t live in Feathertree, so I have no doubt that party planning really did proceed much better at Mrs. Feathertree’s house. The party itself was not terribly impressive: I don’t remember a thing about it. (Maybe there should have been coloring books?)
*More than once we lived in a community where everybody was “from somewhere else.” Those places are great when you do a lot of corporate moves; usually they provide a genuine equalizing feeling of camaraderie. There’s one in every crowd, though. A neighbor and I were discussing our previous locations. I said “Yes, I really do miss my family and in fact, the Midwest in general.” “You?!!!” her eyes flew wide open in shock. Well, there wasn’t anyone else there except my dog, so yes, me. “I am from New York City. I went to Broadway plays, to restaurants, to things that truly matter!” Oh, well, then, sure, I guess you win – but what was the game again? Oh, yes, I know: “What About ME?!” That’s right. Great game. Stupid game.
*My favorite: While house hunting in southern Connecticut with a very personable realtor, I came across an ad for a place that looked lovely and sounded perfect. I asked Mrs. Nice Real Estate Agent about it. “OH!” She recoiled in horror. “Oh my dear, people of your ilk do not live on Maple Street!” It was clear she was complimenting me so I didn’t take offense about my ilk. There are days, though — and it’s twenty-four years later — when I wonder exactly what it is about my ilk that doesn’t qualify me to live on Maple Street.
I actually do not put up gaudy & awful Christmas light displays, I do not associate coloring books with kids’ classroom parties, I do not even want to live in Feathertree, I have never lived – nor ever will live – in New York City, but no matter what anyone says or thinks, I know I’ve got Ilk. It’s a comfort.