Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Truth in packaging

The wedding was beautiful. Everyone looked gorgeous. The bridesmaids wore light-olive colored strapless, floor-length sheaths. The guys wore chocolate tuxedoes with light-olive vests. There was not a pimiento in sight. The bride dazzled us all in a dress that her great-grandmother had sewn by hand for the bride’s grandmother’s wedding in 1950. The reception at the country club afterward was, in a word, fabulous.

So now the new bride and groom, Meredith and Neil, are honey-mooning in -- eat your hearts out -- St. Lucia. And Mrs. Rhymeswith-plague and I have returned home from our whirlwind 48-hour trip to Alabama The Beautiful, as the sign says at the border, Bob Riley, Governor. Jethro is back from his brief stay at his favorite doggie-dude ranch. Everything is slowly returning to what passes for normal around these parts.


Normal is when you realize at the worst possible moment that all the toilet paper is in the closet in the other bathroom. Normal is when some kid from a couple of blocks away decides to demolish your curbside mailbox, anonymously, of course. (It didn’t happen to me, it happened to our next-door neighbor.) Normal is when you say to your friend at church, “I see you’re going to be a grandpa again,” and the apparently stylish new clothing his married daughter wore that day to church is not a maternity outfit.

Normal. That last example is also an example of my severe “foot-in-mouth” disease. I seem to have been, as Texas Governor Ann Richards once famously said of George Herbert Walker Bush, born with a silver foot in my mouth. In fact, some days the only time I open my mouth is to exchange feet. You want examples?

When Debbie L. came to work wearing a bright yellow jacket and a dark green skirt, I said, “You look like a daffodil.” I meant it in the best possible way. When Ethel B. came to work wearing a deep purple outfit, I told her, “You look like a grape.” She actually got upset. When Katherine H. came to work in a black suit, white blouse, and shiny, black, high-heeled shoes, I thought she looked well-tailored, authoritative, decisive. So I said, “You look like the warden of a women’s prison.” She appeared to be in shock. I will never forget what my friend Tim R. said next. “Katherine,” he said, “don't pay any attention to him. You look stunning!”

Well, it took a long time, years and years, but I have learned my lesson. Never say what you actually think. Say what they want to hear. If you do it enough times, you may even begin to believe it yourself. I can’t count the number of times I have seen someone all gussied up, opened my mouth to make a perfectly natural comment, my life passed before my eyes, and I have caught myself in time and said instead, “So-and-so, you look stunning!”

Let’s try it now. You may be sitting there in front of the computer in your bathrobe and pajamas, with sleep in your eyes, with your hair up in curlers. You may be sitting there in jeans and a torn sweatshirt. You may even have brought something in from the barnyard on your shoes. I don’t care. I really don’t care at all.

If you are female and you are reading my blog, you look stunning!

If you are male and you are reading my blog, I wasn’t talking to you. But a word to the wise should certainly be sufficient.


  1. Why, thank you, dahhhling. (Imagine Zsa Zsa Gabor's accent.)

  2. Yes, thank you for the compliment on my appearance! Made my day!

    Interesting colors for the wedding.....the olive green and brown. Nice for a fall wedding.

    Some of the styles nowadays DO look like maternity wear, so don't feel too bad. My daughters have complained about the style....they don't like it. "Foot in mouth" strikes all of us occasionally.

    I hope you're busy recording some of your piano music for us to hear!

  3. Ruth Hull Chatlien as Zsa Zsa Gabor -- now there's a sight for sore eyes! Ms. Gabor has been married eight times, I think, even more times than Elizabeth Rosamund Taylor Hilton Wilder Todd Fisher Fisher Burton Fortensky. I'm sure neither of them is as stunning as you!

    Jeannelle, I must first overcome a few obstacles before the recording of the piano music can occur. First, I don't own a digital video camera or a cell phone that takes pictures. Second, my piano is horribly out of tune. Third, remedying the first two requires more disposable income than we currently have. As Gilda Radner/Rosanne Rosannadanna said, "It's always something." And I'm glad I made your day with the compliment!

  4. I'm stunning, all right; just like a left hook! But, thanks for the kind thoughts. :)

    Glad to hear that a good time was had by all, and that you're home safely. I'm sure your music contributed wonderfully to the general ambience.

  5. Correction from two posts up: Wilding (as in Michael Wilding), not Wilder (as in Billy Wilder).

    Pat, stunning just like a left hook! Has anyone ever suggested that you might be the teensiest, weensiest, little bit passive-aggressive? But I stand by my original statement: you and your fellow Arkansas stampers are all stunning!

  6. Hey Mr. R.W.P, you are learning good, but slowly. At your age is a little late!
    I think I will try your "You look stunning!” on Mrs. Jim. It seems she doesn't think I even know what she is wearing.
    There is a problem, I do not remember what people (even Mrs. Jim) or things (except cars) look like unless there is a terribly eventful occasion to associate the image with.
    I can't even count sheep to help with going to sleep because I can never see any sheep to count.
    Thanks for the Q, I am working on it.

  7. been married 45 years also to karma....after reading uyou i conclude is the 1957 chevy impla with the three lights curved in that beautiful line better than your chey what???capree???chances are by johnny mathis playing, singing at lake point on the shores of the great salt lake...1942 not 1943 as a birthdate...ashbourough north carlina bt greensbourgh where my family is....texas is where my daughter is right next door to the ranger's baseball in my salor suit...not 8 buttoned coat while my dad was in the navy boat in san diego in 1943...what do you have to say to all that????

  8. Thanks to both "Mr. Jim" and "Mr. Barlow" for commenting here.

    Jim, welcome to my little corner of the world. If you can't see any sheep to count, count your blessings instead! Praying for each member of your family also works, because the enemy of our souls doesn't like us to do that and promptly lets sleep overtake us.

    I'm looking forward to reading your answer to my only-somewhat-tongue-in-cheek question.

    Mr. Barlow, Putz, sir, welcome aboard. Wow! We seem to be almost long-lost twins. My birthdate, by the way, is 1941. The picture in the navy coat was taken in 1943. I grew up in Texas not far from where the Ranger Stadium is now. Our houseguest last weekend was enroute from visiting her sister in, of all places, Asheboro, North Carolina, to the same area of Texas, which I call Not Grapevine to keep people guessing. Small world, eh? But I have never, ever, sung on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Do I get points for spending a week in Ogden?

  9. Aaaah .. thanks Bob! I was feeling a bit of a rat-bag this evening. I think I have another cold coming, I feel as if I have jetlag (but haven't had the pleasure of the jet travel to deserve it) or a hangover (and no alcohol either), I've eaten too much (again!) and my hair desperately needs a cut and colour. So it's really, really nice to hear that in actual fact, I'm looking stunning!

    The wedding sounds really lovely. Just like me. LOL!

  10. Good advice about not putting your foot in it. A few days ago, at a day course, I saw a woman I have known for years in a bright yellow jacket. I was about to say - "You look like a banana!" but changed at the last moment and said "How lovely to see that bright lemony colour on a grey October morning!" If I hadn't been married, I think she would have fornicated with me right there and then on the tarmacadam.

    Ever thought of becoming a women's fashion writer for a local newspaper?

  11. Jay, tell that husband of yours he should take you to that desert island. You can always pretend, once you get there, that he's Johnny Depp!

    YP, actually I have never thought of becoming a women's fashion writer for a local newspaper. But I have thought of saying, "You look like a banana!" on several occasions!

  12. Oh this is what I needed today. I am still laughing and oh do I relate to the foot in mouth problem. In fact I just did it the other day. I told my cousin who was a guest for brunch to just sit down and pretend to look pretty. Did not go over well.

  13. Vonda, it did my heart good to know that you are "still laughing" and that my blog is just what you need!

    Your "sit down and pretend to look pretty" remark is a classic! I don't think even I would say something like that...but there's still time.