Monday, August 27, 2007

Making Scents Of Men

Ann: What’d you do today?

Pam: Besides the usual you mean? I went to the mall and I popped into the candle shop. I was looking for that candle with the shore breeze scent you love so much but they were out until next summer. The fall scents are in already. They have pumpkin spice candles now.

Ann: I can’t walk past a candle shop. I just have to go in and smell all the new scents for the season.

Pam: I can top that. I have to go in every candle shop I see and I can’t leave without buying something. Usually it’s just a little votive or something.

Ann: I think there’s actually a law in this state. Statute number ABC123: ‘All residents within sniffing range are required to enter the premises of any legally operated candle shop and conduct no less than one transaction with said company’.

Pam: You’ve got it almost right. You should have said ‘all female residents’. If you look around in those places you’d think men are actually legally banned from candle shops.

Ann: Except at Christmas.

Pam: Right…when they’re given special dispensation. Why do you think men don’t like to go into candle shops?

Ann: Because candles are feminine. Men don’t want to be seen in there or in lingerie shops unless it’s within two days of Christmas or Valentines.

Pam: I guess they’re worried people will think they’re buying something for themselves, like they’re kinky.

Ann: What? Like wives and girlfriends don’t have birthdays and anniversaries all year long?

Pam: We could make a killing renting t-shirts to men right outside candle shops and lingerie stores. They could say on front and back, ‘Tomorrow’s my wife’s birthday. I swear!’

Ann: And bath and body soap stores too.

Pam: I read in the paper the other day that a man was so embarrassed to buy his wife the birthday gift she asked for that he shoplifted it. He got caught and had to do jail time but he said it was worth it not to have to go through the checkout with that thing.

Ann: Wow! What was it?

Pam: The 20th Anniversary Collection DVD of the Oprah Winfrey show.

Ann: That’s not so bad. I thought you were going to say something like a garden gnome or a dust ruffle. At least he could buy the DVD collection at the electronics store.

Pam: Most guys don’t even know what a dust ruffle is, much less where to buy one.

Ann: Women buy guy stuff all the time…jock straps, men’s deodorant, that kind of thing. We don’t worry that people will think it’s for us.

Pam: I guess it has to do with the bravado thing. They just don’t want to be seen with anything ‘girly’. I remember when Ross was a little boy and he and Bret and I were in the mall together. I handed Bret my purse to free up my hands and overheard him teaching Ross the proper way for a man to hold a woman’s purse.

Ann: There’s a right way for a man to hold a woman’s purse?

Pam: Yeah, he told Ross never, ever hold it by the handle…tuck it under one elbow “like a running back holds a football”.
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Ann: That’s silly. What difference could it make how he holds it?

Pam: I guess holding it that way is the international symbol between men that says, ‘Back off. No wisecracks! I’m holding my wife or girlfriend’s purse.”

Ann: I wonder if Ross even remembers Bret teaching him how to hold a purse.

Pam: Oh absolutely! Just this Sunday I intentionally locked my purse in the car during church. When we came out, the kids were having a bake sale so I sent Ross to the car to get it for me while I selected some brownies. When I saw him coming back across the parking lot with it, there he was with my purse tucked under his arm like a football.

Ann: You’re just lucky he didn’t see one of his buddies headed his way. Ross just may have given your purse a heaving spiral pass into the bushes.

Pam: Talk about a Hail Mary pass!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tanks For Nothing!

Ann: You wouldn’t believe what happened to me up here bringing Hannah to school.

Pam: Is everything’s okay?

Ann: Yeah, I’m just about $48.00 lighter than I was last night.

Pam: You were mugged!?

Ann: In a manner of speaking. Someone stole the gasoline from my rent car while I was parked overnight in the hotel across from campus.

Pam: Wow! I haven’t thought about that in a long time.

Ann: You’ve heard of such a thing?

Pam: Oh sure...back when I was in high school. The Catholic girl’s school I attended was right next door to the Catholic boy’s school. When gas prices started really sky-rocketing, we girls would find our tanks, which we’d filled up that morning, empty in the afternoon.

Ann: I don’t know about you, but when I was in high school every penny counted. I bet you girls were angry.

Pam: I wasn’t allowed to work during the school year, so I was on a strict gas allowance from my father. For a couple of weeks I had to go back to him for the gas card again and again. He actually sort of suggested I might be using his card to fill up my friend’s tanks, charge them at a discount, and pocketing the cash! I was outraged, not to mention not nearly that creative.

Ann: Hey, he was complimenting your brilliance. Too bad you didn't think it up. Was the same thing happening at the boy’s school next door?

Pam: No. That was our first clue. This was way before there were security cameras covering every parking lot. When our gas started to disappear, our security consisted of a couple of nuns from the AV department squatting in the bushes with those huge old video cameras perched up on their shoulders.

Ann: That’s quite an image. Did they catch the theives on tape?

Pam: Actually no. As soon as the boys appeared with the siphon and went to work, the nuns were so angry they dropped the cameras, snatched the boys up by the ears, and dragged them across the parking lots to present them to the Jesuits.

Ann: But they didn’t get the evidence on video!

Pam: What could be better then a couple of Dominican nuns as witnesses? The boys didn’t even bother to deny it. My dad bought me a locking gas cap anyway.

Ann: I guess those boys were out sick the day the Jesuits taught ‘Thou shalt not steal’.

Pam: You wouldn’t believe how the boys justified it! They told their Dean of Students that they thought it wasn’t so bad because they were using the gas to take us girls out on dates.

Ann: Now that's creative.

Pam: From then on it became part of our girl’s school vernacular. We’d say, “I only had a couple of eighth-tank dates with him.” Or, “It was a half-tank wedding.” Even our twenty-fifth reunion was billed as a “Full-Tank Event”.

Ann: Well I’m not buying a locking gas cap for a rent car I’ll only have for another day and a half.

Pam: Look at it this way…Hannah may end up with a couple of quarter-tank dates in the next few weeks!

Monday, August 20, 2007

For The Love Of Technology

Pam: My boss Archie changes cell phones like I change earrings. He just got the latest and greatest. The leather case I ordered for his last phone hasn’t even arrived yet!

Ann: He loves technology! Most men do.

Pam: It’s strange. It’s always been sort of a running joke that men won’t ask directions. And it’s true. So now all these men, who for their entire lives have claimed to have a remarkable sense of direction, insist they must have a fancy GPS system to guide them around.

Ann: I know! A lady in my chorus told me that her husband ordered a super high-tech GPS and had it installed in their station wagon. Now he programs it to give him directions to the same church, grocery store, and post office he’s driven to every week for fifteen years!

Pam: Archie and I were just in a machine maintenance shop where we know the mechanics pretty well. These guys are old fashioned grease monkeys. But they always love to see Archie coming so they can check out his latest high-tech gadgets.

Ann: I’m sure those guys can’t afford to buy a different phone every month like he does.

Pam: As usual, they all wanted to see Archie’s new phone and asked him a bunch of questions about it. Archie loved it. He was eating it up.

Ann: Of course…In a man’s mind, being admired for his technology is the second biggest compliment he can get!

Pam: I’ve always thought if I could just get Archie to appreciate the calming effects of more low-tech hobbies, he’d be less irritable. So a few months ago Bret and I bought him a big round bird bath. Actually it was sort of a water fountain for his backyard. Bret helped him set up the triple tiered stone fountain and then I planted a bunch of plants around the base.

Ann: That soft sound of water really attracts a lot of birds to the yard. So, how’d he like it?

Pam: He liked it. But he complained that the water just dribbled out the top and gently cascaded to each level below.

Ann: Isn’t that what it’s supposed to do?

Pam: Sure, but it was too tame for Archie. He went to the home improvement store and bought a stronger pump and installed it in place of the one that came with the fountain.

Ann: He souped up the bird bath!?

Pam: Yep. Then he had to go out and buy a new power supply to increase the voltage or something because of the bigger pump. A couple of days later he figured out that required a bigger fuse because the new power supply was drawing so much electricity that it kept overwhelming the circuit.

Ann: I’ve heard of those shows where they ‘make over’ a guy’s car or truck, but a backyard fountain?

Pam: This thing that originally had water gently cascading out of a hole in the top of a stone orb, was now shooting water fifteen feet in the air!

Ann: You’ve got to be kidding me! That’s crazy.

Pam: I know. It was spraying so high that most of the water falling back down didn’t even make it into the round tiers below. So then he was loosing water so he had to do some plumbing to bring a source of water to the fountain to keep the level up.

Ann: Only Archie! So much for introducing him to the pleasures of low technology.

Pam: I’m telling you…I keep picturing little birds landing on the edge of that fountain and the water shooting them into the air, knocking them beak over feet, their feathers being blasted right off their little bodies. Poor things!

Ann: Or worse, being electrocuted by the world’s only high voltage bird bath!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Right Tool For The Job

Ann: I’m running out of time! Hannah and I head north to take her to school tomorrow. Of course she’s packing all her own stuff and the stuff for her dorm room. But I need to get myself packed for the trip.

Pam: That shouldn’t be too tough. The weather’s pretty predictable and it should be all casual right?

Ann: Yeah, but with everything I have left to tie up for work, I’m going to end up just throwing a big pile of clothes from the clean clothes basket into a carry-on and hoping it works out.

Pam: That’s the way I usually end up packing for pleasure trips. It goes fine until the last day or so when I end up having to wear a lime green top with lavender skirt and orange sandals. I figure, if the plane goes down on the way home, at least they’ll spot me in the wreckage right away.

Ann: Gee thanks...comforting thought! It’s not fair. It’s so easy for men to pack. For a casual event like this, all they have to do is throw in a bunch of khaki and navy shorts and a pile of polo shirts and they’re set. Everything matches everything. It’s like a whole suitcase of those kid’s clothes with the animals on the tags that tell them which ones match. Only the suitcase is full of clothes with the same animal on all the tags.

Pam: And the same animal in them! I point that out all the time to the men I travel with on business. They use the same color socks, belt, and shoes every single day. They can even wear the same jacket day after day and no one thinks a thing about it.

Ann: Yeah, a woman could never get away with that.

Pam: When they tease me about my bags, I explain that for every outfit I pack, I have to also pack the right undergarments, jewelry, hair accessories, shade of make up, belt, purse, shoes, scarf and jacket. It adds up pretty quickly.

Ann: I think it’s their hair that lets them get off easy. Woman pack shampoo, conditioner, a shower cap, hair spray, a wet comb, a hair brush, a styling brush, a curling iron or curlers, and sometimes both, hair bands, barrettes, elastics, and Scrunci’s of various colors. When we go to some hotels we even have to pack our own hair dryer. Men pack a comb. They use the tiny bottle of shampoo from the hotel. That’s it…a comb.

Pam: Oh but don’t they always point out the women with the thick, well groomed, beautiful hair? They want it both ways. They want us to look pulled-together and gorgeous, but we’re supposed to do it without the equipment.

Ann: And they’re the ones always down at the home improvement store justifying their latest purchase with ‘You gotta have the right tool for the job!’ Hypocrites!

Pam: I guess we’re supposed to just MacGyver it with our hair. Hang our head out the window of the rent car to dry it. Wrap it in those little bottles from the mini bar and sit in front of the heater to curl it.

Ann: Yeah and then we could use the rubber band off the newspaper to put it up and then slip the housekeeper a buck to get us some starch from the laundry to use for hair spray.

Pam: Finally, we could borrow the curtain tie backs to give us that final decorative touch.

Friday, August 17, 2007

KO'ed By The Champ

Ann: So how are things at your house?

Pam: You wouldn’t believe it. I just got back from the doggy hospital.

Ann: Oh no! What happened?

Pam: We took Misfit and Champ with us when we went to see our friends who live out in the country. We figured they’d love the chance to run free in those huge fields for a while.

Ann: Champ I understand. A big German Shepherd can cross an acre in no time flat. But Misfit? How many Chihuahuas go for a run in the countryside?

Pam: You’d be surprised how well that little dog keeps up with the big one. Anyway, they were having a great time. We’d throw a tennis ball for Champ and he’d go after it. Then Misfit would do his best to keep up and follow Champ back to us.

Ann: Sounds cute. I can just see it! So what happened? Which dog got hurt? Or need I ask?

Pam: Well, yes. It’s the obvious. At one point Champ was chasing after the tennis ball and Misfit was following as fast as he could. Champ got to the ball, picked it up in his mouth, and was swinging his head around as he started to race back to us. Misfit was still running towards Champ and their heads crashed into each other really hard.

Ann: Poor Misfit. Did he yelp really loud or what?

Pam: No, he was knocked unconscious instantly. One second he was speeding towards Champ, leaping above the tall grass, and the next he just disappeared. It was kind of funny actually.

Ann: Wow, I guess Champ is the champ after all.

Pam: We ran to where we last saw Misfit and gathered him up in our arms. He was a rag doll.

Ann: Or a rag dog.

Pam: We rushed him to a vet. By the time we got there Misfit had begun to wake up but he was pretty loopy. At first he was weak and had trouble just lifting his head to look at us. With time he was able to stumble around the floor. He looked drunk.

Ann: Is he okay? What’d the vet do?

Pam: She gave him some IV steroids because his brain was swelling a little. She also gave him a pain killer because we imagine he had a terrible headache. But he did fine. Within an hour he was back to himself again.

Ann: I bet that was an expensive trip to the countryside.

Pam: Actually the vet was really very nice about it. I’m sure she didn’t charge us anything near what was full price.

Ann: Why do you say that?

Pam: Because the bill was really low and she was laughing as much as we were about what happened. Also, on the discharge papers as her official diagnosis she wrote, “Got his bell rung by his big brother.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Not The Mama

Pam: I’m always telling you unflattering stories about my boss Archie so I thought I’d tell you a different kind.

Ann: You mean he did something right?

Pam: Sort of…he was telling me today this past weekend he took on two full days of babysitting for his two grandsons.

Ann: Really? Overnight?

Pam: Yep.

Ann: That’s quite a job! How old are they now?

Pam: I think they’re going into first and third grade. The younger one might just be going into Kindergarten…I’m not sure.

Ann: How’d it go?

Pam: It sounds like it went fine. I guess he does this occasionally when his son and daughter-in-law drive to a nearby city to check on her folks. Saturday night he took them to one of those pizza places that has all the kid’s arcade games.

Ann: I know that would wear ME out and Archie’s got a few years on me. The boys are old enough to tell time. I think I would’ve had to move the clocks and put them to bed early.

Pam: That shouldn’t have been a problem. Archie’s daughter-in-law left strict instructions for a 9:30 bedtime. She tries to keep them on a regular schedule. That’s probably why they’re so well behaved. She really is a good mom.

Ann: So he only had to last until 9:30? I could probably manage that.

Pam: But he went way past it. Being the fun-loving grandpa, they were all up playing until nearly midnight. But Archie says it’s okay because after 9:30 they were all playing in bed.

Ann: Oh no! I don’t think their mom is going to accept the technicality. Did she find out?

Pam: Well at lunch on Sunday, just before their parents came home, Archie told the boys, “Remember, if Mama asks, you guys were in bed by 9:30. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!”

Ann: Well, I guess that’s a version of the truth. How’d it go over? Did the boys remember what to say?

Pam: The little one remembered too well. When his mother asked what time they got to bed, he said “We were in bed by 9:30. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!”

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Radio Days

Pam: I think I should just give in and buy myself a dunce cap. I did it again today.

Ann: Oh come on…you’re a smart lady. It can’t be that bad. What’d you do now?

Pam: Now? See what I mean! Not just “What’d you do?” but “What’d you do NOW!”

Ann: Sorry. I meant to say, “What’d you do on this, your ever so rare occasion of less than brilliance?”

Pam: That’s better! I was home working on my laptop and making an occasional phone call. I had the radio on next to me and kept fussing with the dial whenever the commercials came on.

Ann: ‘Dial’? Don’t you have pre-set stations like in the car?

Pam: No. It’s that old radio that was my grandfather’s. You’ve seen it. It has that cool big clear plastic dial that you actually turn to go up and down the…well, dial.

Ann: Yeah, I remember. I have to admit there’s something soothing and reminiscent about those old radios. Music…static, static, static….talk….static, static, static….music. It reminds me of my childhood.

Pam: Me too. That’s why I still use it. Anyway, I was sitting there and every fifteen or twenty minutes I would roll up or down the dial to find something new to listen to. That’s when I embarrassed myself…nearly publicly.

Ann: What happened?

Pam: At one point I stopped on a station to hear the end of one of my favorite songs. Then the DJ came on and announced “Be caller ten now to win”. The prize was tickets to a concert I’d love to go to.

Ann: You called?

Pam: I never do that kind of thing. Really. But I happened to have my phone in my hand as he announced the number to call and it was a concert I’d love to see. So on a whim I dialed.

Ann: Don’t tell me, you won the tickets!

Pam: I did! The DJ answers and says, “You’re caller number ten! What’s your name?” So I tell him my name and I sound all goofy and excited like everybody who wins tickets on the radio does.

Ann: I just can’t picture you squealing over a pair of tickets. So that’s how you made a fool of yourself, huh? That’s not so bad.

Pam: Oh no. I haven’t gotten to the me being a fool part yet. The DJ sounds so upbeat and thrilled for me. I finish saying how excited I am and who I will take to the concert and all that. Then the DJ asks in his happy, radio-man voice “So, Pam, tell us, what’s your favorite radio station?”

Ann: Did you enthusiastically give the name of the station?

Pam: I would have, except I had no idea what station I was listening to!

Ann: You didn’t?

Pam: No. Remember, I had been surfing up and down the dial and just stopped. I didn’t have a clue what station it was.

Ann: Wow. How embarrassing. What’d you do?

Pam: I stammered, and stuttered, and then, as enthusiastically as I could, said “This one!”

Ann: Not what he was looking for I take it?

Pam: He was pretty annoyed. Suddenly the happy, DJ voice went away and he says, “Cut! Damn it. Re-record….Pam, we’ve got to do it again.” He tells me the name of the station I’m talking to and says, “Could you write it down or something? And try to sound surprised and excited like we haven’t done this already.” Then back in his radio-man voice he says, “Hey there! You’re caller number ten. What’s your name?”

Ann: So the moral of the story is…if you call a radio station to win tickets, it’s a good idea to know which station you’re talking to.

Pam: That’s my suggestion!

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