Boo-Anne’s Betrayal (6/29/2016)

Doodle, a.k.a Boo-Anne, had been betrayed.

By the very man she loved more than a Milk Bone itself: Lamar.

The chunky little red dog was curled up on the couch, taking her post-dinner, pre-bedtime nap one evening when Lamar decided it was time for a bath.

She had artfully dodged bath time previously, ducking behind the couch or my chair anytime she saw Lamar.

He had warned her she was going to get a bath this time.

The little pibble mix stuck her chin up defiantly as if to say, “No, sir!”

She had outsmarted him and ducked to safety enough times to feel confident she was in the clear.

But alas, she was not.

Just when she thought because of the time that she was safe, she hopped up on the couch for her nap.

Lamar saw her reposed position – head on the arm of the couch, eyes closed in blissful slumber, and her belly slightly exposed in case anyone just had to pet it – and went in for the grab. He scooped her up in his arms like a baby.

“Get the bathroom door, Cole,” he instructed.

Cole ran to get the door, shocked his daddy would betray his baby girl this way.

The look on her face was priceless. At first, she may have briefly thought Lamar was going to cradle her like he did when she was a mere little puppy, holding her against his chest as he sang to her.

That look gave away to shock and horror as she realized he was walking towards the bathroom and she knew what that meant.

“Close the door, and do not, under any circumstances, open it until I tell you to,” Lamar told Cole.

Unlike the German Shepherd who nearly takes the wall down, Doodle just took her bath with great shame.

When done, she shot out of the bathroom like a pinball, running through the house, hitting one hiding place after another before settling on her spot behind my chair.

“Boo-Anne, did he not dry you off?” I asked her. “I have a towel….”

Big brown eyes peeked from behind the chair cautiously. She glanced right, then left before scurrying towards me.

I swaddled her in the towel and rubbed her somewhat dry.

When Lamar walked in, she ran back to behind my chair, going to the side between the arm and the shelves to look at him.

“I can’t believe you betrayed Boo-Boo that way,” I said.

Boo-Boo, Boo-Anne, Doodle—that dog was a true Southern belle because none of those were her given name of Angel.

“She needed a bath; she got out of them last time and she just thought she was going to get out of this one.”

She may have, but she didn’t expect to be so abruptly snatched from her nap to be chunky dumped in the tub.

“She will get over it in a few days. She loves me.”

I wasn’t so sure. Doodle could hold a grudge.

It didn’t take a day. Hours later, the pudgy pup was curled up beside him on the couch.

She may have forgiven but she didn’t forget.

When she saw him with the bottle of all-natural flea spray, she ducked behind the couch.

“I forgot to put conditioner on her but I want to make sure it’s not a flea,” was Lamar’s explanation while I watched him try to coax her out from behind the couch.

Boo-Anne peeked out before burrowing further behind her barricade.

It took a few days but he was finally able to spray her, sending her behind my chair for safety.

This time she put her little head up on my arm rest as if to ask, “Why do you let him do this to me?”

“Doodle needs her nails trimmed,” Lamar said. “I’ve got the clippers by the door. I need to grab her and take her out on the porch to trim them.”

“All you do is betray her, you know. She’s gonna get to where she doesn’t trust you anymore.”

“She trusts me fine,” Lamar said. “She knows I am taking care of her.”

Maybe she did.

And maybe the little weeble-wobbling dog also felt like her puppy rights were being violated and her trust was being equivocally betrayed.

Lamar even tossed the spray to Cole one evening for him to chase her into her hiding spot to spray her.

“She’s going to get you back,” I warned. “Payback is going to be bad, I’m afraid.”

Lamar didn’t think so. He was confident of the little dog’s love and loyalty.

As we returned home from church one evening, Lamar went into the bedroom to change and found Boo-Anne’s payback waiting for him.

“I told you she was going to get you back,” was all I said.

A woman scorned is one thing; a Boo-Boo betrayed is another.

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The 5 0’Clock Train May Be Temporarily Delayed (6/15/2015)

We had somewhere to be at 5:30 p.m.

Our destination was approximately 20 minutes away, but for some reason, my husband decided he needed to hurry me along.

“We need to leave in 15 minutes,” he announced.

I was putting on my makeup in my office/dungeon of girliness/former hiding place of candy.

He poked his head in.

“Did you hear me?”

I paused, eyeliner in my hand. Did he not know that a kohl eyeliner could double as a mini-spear?

“Daddy….” Cole cautioned from the couch in the living room. “Don’t make her angry.”

“I heard you,” I said, giving him a warning glance.

“I don’t want to be late. We may have to park and walk a block or two, so we need to make sure we leave with plenty of time.”

“Daddy…..” Cole said, a sharp whistle sounding as he took in air.

I gave him a heady stare until he backed out and then returned to my makeup.

“I don’t like being late,” he said again from the other room.

“We won’t be late,” I said.

“We will be if you don’t hurry up, you are still in your robe.”

“I can get ready if you would stop fussing,” was my reply.

“I am not fussing, I am simply telling you we need to leave in 10 minutes and you are not even dressed.”

It’s impossible to apply eye liner or eye shadow when you are fussing with someone. I was going to be late and you know what? It was his fault.

This, from the man that when I tell him I want to go somewhere by a certain time, will make me late. Normally, Cole and I are sitting in the van, wondering if he decided not to go and just laid down. Or, he will say he’s ready to go, then can’t find his wallet, his glasses, the keys, or he needs one more drink of water.

He also is good about walking all the way out to the van, where Cole and I are sitting, normally sweltering from the heat, to announce he forgot something and go back in. “He’s not coming back, is he?” Cole will ask from the back seat. Sometimes, I wonder myself. We spend an eternity sitting in the van ready to go before his daddy finally gets out there.

“Five minutes.”

I couldn’t find the pants I wanted to wear. Where were they? I went in the bedroom and they were not where I had last put them.

I didn’t want to wear jeans – it had to be cooler in the shade of Hades than it was on this evening.

Should I wear a dress, or would that be too dressy?

No, no dress. Never a dress.

What in the world was I going to wear?

“Go get in the van,” I heard Lamar tell Cole.

“I hope you aren’t going to Ray Barrone Mama,” Cole said, heading out the door. “That will not end well, you know…”

He was referencing the episode where Ray left Debra when she got the curling iron stuck in her hair and went to the awards ceremony without her. Here was my child, wondering if his own mother was about to get left behind.

I heard the van crank. “He better not leave me,” I muttered under my breath.

I found a pair of dress pants and a shirt I didn’t really like anymore but it was short sleeved and didn’t require me finding some tank top to wear underneath it – that’s another thing. Since when did every woman’s blouse require another shirt underneath it to wear? Geesh.

I started to slip on my heels then thought if we were late and I had to walk I’d be better off in flats, so I slipped on sandals.

I paused to make sure I could still hear the van outside; I did.

I grabbed my phone and my purse, made sure Doodle was behind the couch, Pumpkin was on it, and Ava was secure on her spot on the bed.

I ran out the door, and saw Lamar sitting in the driver’s seat, window down. Even with his sunglasses on, I could see his annoyed stare.

I realized I didn’t even have on my earrings or my necklace but locked the door anyway.

“Five minutes after 5,” Lamar said as I climbed in my seat.

“You’re going to make me not want to go anywhere with you, you know,” I said. “We’ve got plenty of time.”

He set his mouth in a tense line and backed out.

“We are going to be late,” he stated.

I rolled my eyes and adjusted my AC vent.

A few miles down the road, just as we approached a stop sign, a truck took the turn too fast and hard, and came into our lane, barely having enough time to get control. Lamar was thankfully able to avoid us being hit.

“Wow! If we had left a few minutes earlier, he would have hit us,” Lamar said.
“So Mama being late was a good thing!” Cole said, patting my shoulder.

“Even when Mama’s late, she is always on time,” I said.

We rode in silence the rest of the way.

And we got there, with three minutes to spare.

The Chocolate Concealment (6/8/2016)

Some of you may judge me for this. I know that ahead of time.

But, a few of you will understand.

And maybe you do this yourself from time to time.

It started a few years ago, when Cole was around 4.

I locked myself in the bathroom, hoping for privacy.

Cole, being part cat, tried to paw me out from under the door.

“What are you doing?” he wanted to know.

“Nothing!” I cried.

“I can see your feet! What are you doing?!”

He frantically started hitting the door. ‘Let me in!”

His howls were now becoming far too loud and would soon draw attention.

I had to do the unthinkable.

I had to let him in.

“What are you doing?” he asked again.

I swallowed. “Nothing.”

He sniffed the air then shot an accusatory glance at me. “I smell chocolate,” he declared.

I couldn’t hide it any longer.

I had hid in the one room with a lock to eat a candy bar.

A precious, precious candy bar.

Without sharing it with anyone else.

Cole readied himself to wail – what kind of horrible person hid to eat a candy bar and didn’t share with her child?

It wasn’t that I was necessarily hiding to keep it from Cole.

But maybe I was trying to hide it from someone else.

Like his father.

I quickly promised the child his own candy bar, or maybe a trip to Dairy Queen if he would keep it on the down low. He lowered his eyes and agreed, already plotting to get both.

Over the years, I found other hiding places but they have not been nearly as effective.

I thought my office would be ideal, in all of its cluttered confusion.

I successfully hid bags of Dove for a while, until my hiding spot was one day discovered.

When I reached under the carefully placed envelopes and magazines in the basket, the bag was empty.

Except for a few wrappers, evidence of the transgression that had occurred.

I gasped.

He had found my candy. And ate it.

How did he find my hiding space? How did he even know I had candy?

I asked all these questions aloud to the empty bag of Dove milk chocolate.

“I think he noticed you kept coming in here,” a voice answered.

It was Cole; not the bag.

“You kept getting up and walking in here for a few minutes. I think he wondered what you were doing.”

And, I foolishly didn’t hide the wrappers I put in the trash.

Had I really gotten so lackadaisical I didn’t cover up my tracks?

“I will have to find another hiding spot,” I said, sinking into my chair.

“He will keep looking until he finds it,” Cole whispered.

Much like Liam Neeson hunting down his daughter’s kidnappers in Taken, Lamar would sniff out every square of chocolate I had until it was no more. And he would eat it, shamelessly.

I have known for over 13 years now that I have to strategically hide chocolate from him. Lamar doesn’t know it but we almost broke up once over a Girl Scout cookie. Well, two actually. He came over one night – to eat leftover pizza—even though I told him I was near death and shivering on the couch. “I am just coming by to eat the pizza and watch some TV,” he promised. How romantic, I thought dryly as I hung up the phone. I snoozed on the couch while he ate the leftovers and watched some bicycling documentary on cable. Before he left, he had kissed my head and told me had already taken the evil beagle out and for me to lock my deadbolt.

The next morning, all I could think of was Thin Mints and Samosas – the fresh boxes I had bought on my way home and had been too sick to eat.

Surely, cookies and coffee would make me better.

There was one each left in the box.

Lamar was dangerously close to be permanently single that day.

After we married, he ate my birthday chocolate bar that our neighbor brought me.

I had hid it, too, mind you, tucked behind some condensed soup and other stuff that I knew he wouldn’t even give a second glance to. But he knew there was a chocolate bar in the house and he had to eat it.

Now, he was not only finding the stuff in the cabinets or pantry, he was brazenly coming into my office, rifling through the papers and stuff to find the chocolate.

I didn’t know what to do. Should I hide it in plain sight? Or maybe get one of those hollow books that people hide their valuables in?

“Mama!” Cole cried one day as he looked over the shelves in the pantry. His box of Little Debbies was gone, or rather, the empty box was sitting on the shelf.

“I put my name on them,” he said forlornly.

“Your daddy doesn’t pay attention to that,” I said, empathizing. “I don’t think he cares, either.” If he would eat a king size chocolate bar in a bright pink wrapper that read, “For you, Birthday Girl!” I don’t think a sticky note with the name “Cole” in permanent marker was going to stop him.

“You’ve got to start hiding food,” I said simply. “You need a hiding spot – one better than mine – and you need to hide your treats. Your daddy is worse than a bear.”

Little Debbies, root beer – anything Cole put back to enjoy later, like during one of his favorite shows, his father would find and eat.

A few weeks later, Cole found a small Coleman cooler at the store. It was just big enough for a six pack of Barq’s and some Strawberry Shortcake rolls.

It worked, too, for about two weeks. “Hey, this is a neat little cooler! What’s in it?” we heard his father say.

The other day I found a wrapper in the bathroom trash. I didn’t say a word, I just helped hide the evidence.

 

 

Better to beg forgiveness than ask permission

Cole wants a corgi.

He saw one on a television show recently and fell in love with their squatty little bodies immediately.

He made a horrible mistake however. He asked his father if he could get one.

“No.”

The only time his father says this word is when it involves bringing home another pup as Lamar is usually the care-giver and the scooper of the yard.

Had Cole asked if they could ride their bikes sans helmets down the side of a waterfall or set something on fire, Lamar would have eagerly agreed.

But this time, Cole asked for a pup and Lamar shut him down.

A battle has ensued for weeks now, with Cole trying to convince his father why he needs a corgi.

Lamar, however, is unyielding.

Cole is even trying to convince him by telling him the merits of the pups.
“They are herding dogs,” Cole begins. “You love herding dogs.”

“I prefer German shepherds,” Lamar replied.
“But, but, but—”

Cole stops his sentence short realizing his father is not budging.

Taking his laptop and a pen, he sat at the table, furiously punching at the keyboard, then scribbling on his paper. Shortly afterwards, he stood in front of his father with an essay he had drafted to present his case.

I was impressed – the child had not only researched the breed but prepared a good argument for the corgi case.

Lamar sighed but still refused to budge.

“What am I gonna do?” Cole asked me later. “He’s not gonna let me get a corgi, is he?”

Cole was so upset he called in his reinforcements, the one ally he has no matter what, and the only one who will stand up to his parents: Nennie.

And Nennie, of course, thought the child deserved a corgi and was quite beside herself to hear her only grandchild had been told no.

“Is something wrong with Lamar?” she asked me. “He said no.”

Not just to Cole, she added but about a dog.

“Mama, have you met Lamar? He always says “no” anytime I or Cole say we are going to get anything. If I say, “Let’s get a dog,” he automatically says no. I just have to show up with one.”

Then it hit me.

That’s how I had brought home the last two; I just ceremoniously showed up, toting a puppy. It’s pretty much what I did with Mama when I was growing up any time a stray cat wandered into the yard.

A habit I picked up from my uncle, who still brings in every stray he can.

When my uncle came home with another dog one day, Granny fussed.

This was not unusual, the old gal fussed about everything. But she particularly liked to fuss about anything that had to be fed.

My gentle, quiet uncle ignored her.

A few years later, I found a kitten, all tiny and covered in fleas. We immediately took it to the vet.

While we waited, I looked at my uncle and whispered, “Is Granny gonna be mad at us?”

My uncle laughed. “Probably.”

Of course she would be — she was breathing, so she was mad about something.

“What are we gonna do?” I asked.

“Well, if we ask her, we know what she’s gonna say, right?”

I nodded.

I think Granny held the copyright on “No.”

“So, it’s better if we just take the kitten on home and ride it out. She’ll get over it in a couple of days or find something else to get mad about. Eventually, she’ll forgive us.”

He was right. She was furious at first but thankfully, her sister Bonnie ticked her off about something else and she had a new rant to focus on.

I wasn’t sure how my uncle knew this would happen. Then, I realized: he learned it from the old gal herself.

I had outgrown my tiny closet and sorely needed a place to put my clothes. I was a teenage girl – clothes were an obsession. I had found an armoire that was perfect but expensive so no one would buy it for me.

Mama’s sensible suggestion was to put my clothes in the drawers when she left them folded on my bed.

I thought that was insane.

These were peplum skirts, cropped jackets, Bedazzled sweaters, and other high-fashion horrors.

I couldn’t put them in drawers.

Mama’s other not-so-sensible suggestion was to weed out my clothes; there were only 7 days in the week, I couldn’t possibly need 17 pairs of jeans.

Granny told me she would come up with a solution.

“Don’t you worry about it,” she told me when I asked what she was going to do.

The following day, my Pop had a message to call a contractor. Being a roofer who worked with most of the contractors in our town, Pop called him back, thinking it was about a house he needed to cover.

When he got off the phone he bounded down the hallway looking for my grandmother.

“Helen, did you call and ask about quotes to add on to the house?” he demanded.

Granny didn’t even look up from the biscuits she was making. “I did.”

“What in the dickens were you thinking?” he asked.

“I was thinking that Sue needed a better way to hang her clothes up. And since no one wants to get her something suitable, I figured we’d just go ahead and add on to her room there and get her a closet and her own bathroom, too.”

The next day, my armoire arrived from the furniture store.

“Would you have really added on to my room if he hadn’t bought it for me?” I asked.

The old gal gave me an opossum-eating briars grin and said, “Yes, I would have.”

“What if he had a fit?”

The smile grew bigger.

“Well, Shug, it’s better to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission any day.”

As long as he asked, the answer Cole would get would be no.

But maybe asking forgiveness would at least get him the dog.

 

Just can’t have anything nice (2/24/2016)

Much akin to Jeff Foxworthy’s cry when his mother’s Elvis Jack Daniels decanter was broken, my grandmother declared she couldn’t have anything nice.

This, of course, was after her porcelain praying hands statue had been knocked to the floor to break for the umpteenth time.

Whether it was Mama and my doing or Mama’s cat, Bennie, has long been forgotten as we usually rotated who got to break the sacred hands every month.

I thought Granny was just being a tad bit overdramatic and embellishing the facts -hereditary problems among the women in my family – but alas, the old gal spoke the truth.

I even discovered as hard as I tried, I may not be able to have anything nice either.

It’s an odd thing, actually.

I think it may actually stem from living in your own home. That seems to be the best way to cause things you like to get damaged, broken or destroyed.

Mama asked me if I still had my coffee on the porch every morning in my rocking chair.

When I told her I hadn’t done that in years, she wanted to know why.

“Doodle ate my chair,” I answered.

She literally cut her big pup teeth on the wooden rocker, eating the wicker seat until she fell out of it.

She ate a table, too.

I’ve had people tell me they wouldn’t have dogs who ate their furniture, shoes, floor, cabinets and all the various other things my girls have eaten.

The husband has broken more stuff and I haven’t taken him to the pound yet.

On the porch is also an antique farmhouse table – I have no idea how old it is, but I bought it from a friend who is an antique dealer. It’s primitive, roughhewn and beautifully simplistic.

My husband thinks it is a good table to hold various cans of lube, grease and God knows what other bicycle paraphernalia he has put on it.

“I can’t have anything nice,” I muttered when I saw the bike stuff on it.

It’s not a matter of being materialistic, because really – I’m not.

I just have discovered that there is a correlation between the nicer something is, the more likely it is to get broken.

Cheap stuff or stuff you don’t really like, you can’t get rid of, no matter how hard you try.

It’s like dinner plates you hate the pattern of – they never break. I had a pattern I absolutely loved before and I had to replace them within a year.

The shoes I splurge on end up getting stuck in something and breaking a heel.

The dress or pants that fit perfectly (and make me look thin) get splashed with bleach or a pen explodes on them.

“I think Granny was right!” I told Mama one day.

“About what?” she wanted to know.

“Well, everything really,” I said and meant it. “But you know how she said she couldn’t have anything nice? I am wondering if I can either.”

I ran down the list of things I had that had been broken, eaten, and had grease stains on by way of a bicycle.

Mama understood.

She remembered putting down brand new flooring once and someone tracked mud in on it the minute the installers were gone. For someone who hated vacuuming, easy to maintain flooring was Mama’s idea of “nice.”

“Maybe you should put everything up you want to keep,” she suggested.

I could but it’s hard to do. It may mean about 80 percent of my belongings will be in some storage box, shoved in a closet.

“I don’t know if that will help,” I said. “I think I am just going to have to learn how to not have any kind of attachment to things. I want to have nice things but at the same time, I don’t want a house that me and my family and dogs can’t live in.”

Mama agreed.

While I was telling Mama all of this, Cole was desperately trying to get my attention. I kept trying to signal to him I was on the phone. When I finally hung up, he told me quite frustrated that Doodle had eaten another shoe.

“Mama,” he began, exasperated. “I tried to tell you while you were on the phone, but you wouldn’t listen. So you can’t blame me for this. If you had paid attention for just a few minutes, I could have told you Doodle was eating these.”

I sighed.

I can’t have anything nice – and I only have myself to blame.

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The wisdom of a child by way of a jelly jar (12/2/2015)

It started with a jelly jar.

Not just any jelly jar, but those cute patterned ones that previously held some delectable concoction from my best friend’s kitchen.

I pulled the empty containers out from the fridge and placed them on the counter, asking Lamar to “please don’t throw them away.”

I said it twice. For emphasis.

Because, he is a male and doesn’t always listen.

He heard me because he replied: “Sara said she didn’t care if she got them back, she’s got plenty of jelly jars.”

“I know what she said,” I told him. “But, I want to keep these. So please, don’t throw them away.”

That was the third time I made my request.

Little jelly jars remind me of my childhood when Granny would save and re-use everything she could. And a little jelly jar, particularly one with a quilted pattern on the exterior and with the lid had many purposes. She could store buttons in there, use it as a juice glass, or even re-use it for her own jelly.

I was planning on making candles and gifting one back to Sara Jean, my partner in crime and grand jelly maker.

And, I just like them. I like little glass things and these were cute.

I went to find them one morning, thinking I would put them with my craft supplies for later and could not find them.

I checked the dish racks – no little cute jelly jars.

I did find seven straws, because it makes perfect sense to wash and re-use straws when you can get a pack of 2 million for a buck at the Dollar Tree. I am probably still using the first pack of straws I bought when Cole was 3.

But no cute little jelly jars.

I had asked him three times not to throw them out. Surely if the man will save a dingdang straw, he will save a jelly jar.

“Where are those jelly jars I asked you to save?” I asked him when he got home.

He didn’t answer at first, he just got a glass of water and drank it very, very slowly.

When he finished it, he got another.

“Lamar,” I began. “Where are those jelly jars?”

“What jelly jars?” he asked. “Did Doodle go out yet? She’s got that look like she wants to go. Doodle, do you need me to go out with you?”

He was not going to use her as a pittie-adorable shield.

“Lamar.”

“What?”

“My jars.”

“Did you want to save those?” he asked.

I swear, he pulled Doodle closer. An adorable chunky pup was not going to save him.

“You save straws and lids to yogurt containers – there’s no bottoms to the containers, but by golly, we’ve got 20 lids. But you threw away those cute jars I asked you to save?”

“I didn’t know…”

“You didn’t know! I told you – three times!”

The pittie mix sensing my upsetted-ness, sat down on his foot and pawed at me, as if asking me to spare her big human; he didn’t know any better.

Realizing it was futile, she went behind the couch to hide.

“I will find them,” he said.

But he did not. The jars were not found in the trash can inside and he even checked the garbage outside, not before looking in at me through the window to see if I was watching. I was.

“Are you really going to be mad at me over those jelly jars?” Lamar asked.

I said nothing. Silence speaks volumes.

“I had no idea you would want to keep those. Why did you want to keep them for anyway? Don’t you have enough glass jars?”

Still nothing. More volumes. He’d figure it out. Maybe.

“Don’t you have some other jelly jars somewhere?” He opened cabinets as if searching, knowing there was no jelly jars. Maybe he was praying the jelly jar fairy had put them there.

“Daddy, you don’t get it, do you?” Cole asked, not even looking up from his tablet.

“You gotta listen to your girl – heck, I know that, and I’m only 11. It’s not the jelly jars. It’s the fact that you didn’t listen to her. She asked you not to throw those jars away and you did. You didn’t listen. You gotta listen to your girl. I’m not married yet, I haven’t even been on a date yet with a girl but one day I will be and I will know, you gotta listen. You don’t, and you gonna be in big trouble, Daddy. Big trouble.”

Big trouble, the child said. And he was right on all counts.

It was all because of a dog

Some love stories begin with chance meetings, glances across the room, or even horrible blind dates that actually work out.

There’s conflict, fights, breaking up, making up, drama – all that great stuff Danielle Steele writes about in romance novels.

Maybe I should feel like something is wrong, because we celebrated our 12th anniversary on Tuesday, and we haven’t had any of that.

But our unconventional story began with the goddess of love herself, Venus.

Venus, the German shepherd, probably didn’t intend to play Cupid – or maybe she did.

I am pretty sure she felt like she orchestrated our whole relationship.

She was our unintentional yenta, after all, escaping from her kennel at Lamar’s mother’s house while she was supposed to be dog-sitting while Lamar was out of town working.

The dog ran wild for a week.

I was the one who rounded her up a couple of days before Lamar came home to get her.

I am not one to believe in love at first sight. Unless there is a dog involved, and then, it is empirically possible.

I fell in love with this dog the minute I saw her, scratching her ears and letting her lick my hand through the gate as I put her back in her kennel.

I didn’t know who her owner was, but I knew somehow, that dog was supposed to be mine.

Lamar showed up at his mother’s Estee Lauder counter a few days later, not too happy she had lied to him about his dog.

I was at my Clinique counter, telling a friend about a new cream eyeshadow.

“Gotta go, cute guy at Lauder,” I said, hanging up the phone.

Lamar has said he knew then he wanted to marry me, standing in my stocking feet, hair piled on my head and decked out in a Clinique lab coat because I had been good to his dog.

I’ve joked he wanted to marry me because I had food and cable -which he does not really refute – and I married him to get the dogs.

“Daddy didn’t really marry you for cable and food, did he?” Cole will question, not 100 percent sure. “Y’all loved each other.”

Being a hopeless romantic, Cole thinks everyone has a fairy tale romance like Pam and Jim on “The Office” or Waddles and the goat on “Gravity Falls.”

So naturally he thinks our backstory involved a lot of romantic gestures like roses, poems and candlelight. I have to remind Cole real life romance is not like you see on TV.

And that his father is not really good at the woo part of a relationship; Lamar hasn’t even officially proposed.

“Do you think you would have even met Daddy if it hadn’t been for Venus?”

Maybe.

Who knows?

He was about ready to move back to Colorado – if he had, I probably would have never met him.

Lamar’s kind of shy, too.

He may never had a reason to speak to me if he hadn’t thanked me for saving Venus, let alone ask me out.

His mother was the one who called me later to ask if she could give him my number.

She had a caveat though: “He’s got two more of those big German shepherd things at home – three of them. And they are inside. They shed everywhere.”

I pretty much judge people based on how they treat animals. And being an animal lover is on the top of my list of redeeming qualities in people.

The fact he had three and they were inside gave me a pretty good idea of what kind of person he was. So I gave her the OK.

During one of our early dates, he asked me if I wanted to go meet the dogs.

I said yes and wondered if Venus would remember me.

She did, running straight to me, leaning against my legs, and doing her signature paw on my foot move she would do, as if to say I was her person.

And I was – for the 10 years I had her after we married, she was my soulmate and constant companion.

“So, I am here, and we’re a family, all because of Venus?”” Cole said, thinking all of this over.

“Yup,” I said. “All because of a dog named after the mythical goddess of love.”

Pretty appropriate, if I do say so myself.

If you see a well-dressed man, thank his mama

“Did your Daddy pick that out for you?” I asked Cole one morning as we were about to head out the door.

“Yes, ma’am,” he answered.

“Lamar!” I hollered. “He can’t wear that!”

“What’s wrong with it?” Lamar wanted to know. “It’s clean!”

“‘Clean’ is not the only prerequisite for clothing.”

Frustrated, I went to find Cole something that matched.

I try to make my child look nice and presentable – not like he is some ragamuffin who fell off a turnip truck. Just because it was Downy fresh didn’t mean it was appropriate.

“I don’t get why you worry about what he has on,” Lamar said as we headed to our destination – late, because I insisted on my child changing clothes. “He’s a little boy; folks don’t care what little boys have on.”

“I care,” I said. “And believe me. Other people notice.”

Believe me, other people definitely do. Once when Cole was around 4-years-old, Lamar took him to lunch, wearing a pair of boxer shorts and a t-shirt. While they were on their adventures, they ran into a lady Cole used to stay with. When she saw my child was out and about wearing his drawers as outer wear, she called me later to make sure I had not taken ill and needed a casserole.

Lamar has also given this child two different socks. Not just a short one and a tall one, we’re talking my child has worn one of my socks and one of his.

“No one sees what’s stuffed in a boot,” was Lamar’s reasoning.

“They sometimes have to take their shoes off in PE,” I tried explaining. “Do you want your son to be known as the one who wears ladies’ Halloween socks in February?”

Stripes with plaid.

Orange shirt with red shorts.

Inside out, backwards. As long as it was clean and covered what needed to be covered, Lamar would stick the child in it.

Sometimes, I don’t even think clean was really a priority, either.

“He wore that the other day,” I commented once, eyeing Cole’s attire as he ate breakfast.

“It’s clean,” Lamar replied.

A closer inspection revealed chocolate on the collar.

I sighed.

I think I put unrealistic fashion expectations on not just any man, but my husband.

He does not seem to worry about what he wears.

He told me once, I worry about that stuff enough for the both of us, which I don’t. I just think not looking like one dressed in the dark during an emergency evacuation is a reasonable, attainable goal.

Lamar blames me for always making us late, changing shoes, messing with my hair or finding the perfect earrings. But usually it is me trying to find my child clothes. A task that Lamar does in an effort to save me time, so I don’t have to do it. A vicious cycle.

Maybe guys are just different when it comes to clothes. You never hear men sitting around talking about whether or not low rise jeans made their muffin top worse, or if they hoped the Chevron pattern never went out because it hid their five-pound weight gain.

The only words I had ever heard my husband utter about clothes were: “This needs to be burned.”

He has cut the sleeves off long-sleeved shirts because he couldn’t find a short sleeved shirt. I didn’t notice until one evening as we were running errands, I asked what was wrong with the hem. He said nothing. He didn’t have to; he has cut up tons of his clothes. I have sworn one day, I was throwing away all of his clothes that had paint on them, or had been cut up in some Edward Scissorhands fashion.

“Then, I will just be going around naked,” he muttered.

Once my Uncle Bobby had to get my clothes ready for school. He put my chubby tater in a pair of corduroys and a striped shirt, which he forgot to take the iron off of and left the imprint on the back shoulder. I was such a train wreck, the children didn’t even make fun of me. Who puts a fat kid in vertical stripes and corduroys?

“Mama, why do you care about how we look when we go somewhere?” Cole wanted to know. “You won’t even run to the grocery store without your makeup and heels on.”

That was not true; I’ve been wearing flats here lately.

But they didn’t understand this whole “being presentable” concept.

For one thing, I don’t want us ending up on some “People of Walmart” Instagram account, with the caption: “Country come to town.”

I want my child to take pride in his appearance, which he does, but it shows that you respect yourself enough to take a few moments to pull together a simple outfit. You only get one chance to make a first impression – do you want that first impression to be you are on your way to a clown school audition?

“Baby, when you get older, you will be glad that I have taught you, this is important. On your first date, your first job interview. There will be tons of occasions you will be glad you understand it is important to look nice and care about what you are wearing.

It doesn’t have to be the trendiest, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive – just make sure it is clean, nice and looks well.”

Again, no stripes and plaids, I silently pleaded. You will give me a headache to look at it.

One day, he would get it.

And when he did, he could thank his mama.

In defense of not having a free range child (5/6/2015)

Parenting is hard work. You always feel like you are messing up and someone – usually a person who doesn’t know the difference between a zygote and a pygmy goat – is always full of advice and criticism as to the quality of job you are doing.

Even other parents are critical, starting with whether or not you breastfed, what kind of diaper you used, and God forbid you let your child use a binkie. You were setting them up for a lifetime of dependency.

My tendency was to not listen so much to the noise and let it go around me, filtering what was useful and discarding what wasn’t.

Criticisms, depending on who they come from, were filed away appropriately.

Probably the biggest criticism I receive, and probably always will, is that I tend to be overprotective.

I have been told I need to loosen up, cut the umbilical cord and let my child experience childhood.

I can shrug it off because I know I am doing my main job-and that’s keeping my child safe.

So hearing about the new ‘free range child’ movement makes me, well, nervous.

There’s all kinds of stories about how children are walking home by themselves, being allowed to ride public transit unaccompanied – things that would probably make my anxiety level increase and I’m an adult.

“They call them free range kids,” Lamar said. “I was probably a free range kid. I would wait for the sun to come up, get on my bike and be gone all day. My Mama probably didn’t know where I was.”

But the ‘60s were different than today, or at least that’s how it seems.

You didn’t turn on the news or pull up Facebook to find your feed full of missing children – or worse.

Just as my husband was running wild and free, I was fairly sheltered, and didn’t spend the night away from home until I was 11.

Even then, it was a church group at a lady’s house my mama grew up with, and I am pretty sure she slept in her car in the driveway.

Mama knew even then, there were scary things out there and her job was to keep me safe because I was a child.

Sure, she let me do some things – she dropped me off at the Athens Skate Inn when I was 13, she let me go to other overnight events, she let me cruise the Piggly Wiggly and Rec parking lot on just about every Friday and Saturday night, even though she questioned my direction in life for finding it to be entertaining.

But again, things were different then.

I couldn’t imagine dropping my child off at a skating rink by himself. It wouldn’t happen.

I can’t understand how some parents can take their parental responsibility so lightly and act like children – children, mind you, as in 12 and younger -are supposed to be able to take care of themselves.

“I would never dream of letting Cole do some of the things I did,” Lamar said.

I shudder at some of the tales he has told me, like a bus ride by himself to see his father when he was five.

They say the free range movement is supposed to help these children become more independent and teach them coping skills, so they can become more self-sustaining adults.

Remember how I said everyone’s got their own opinion about parenting? Well, here’s mine.

That’s a crock of something.

It’s the parents’ job to give our children tools to learn how to cope, help them make good choices and equip them to be independent.

When they are children, they are scared and not able to make certain decisions – it’s our job to help guide them. And while guiding them, we are supposed to keep them safe.

Not throw them to the wolves, almost literally, and say: “Hey, you are a free range child and I don’t want to be perceived as a helicopter mom, so good luck to you!”

They are children; not chickens.

They are children; not a marketing label to tell people why your chicken is better and justify the higher price.

Proponents of the free range children movement claim other parents are preventing children from growing up.

I disagree.

I think we are doing our job and making sure they do just that. But apparently, trying to protect your child makes you crazy nowadays.

“You’ve got to let your child experience childhood and be a little boy,” someone told me one day.

I’m not saying for every little bump or bruise he gets I freak out and whisk him to the emergency room.

I am cautious, but not fanatical.

He gets dirty.

He runs and falls down.

He plays on things at the playground that make my head spin.

But my child has very, very firm boundaries and limitations. And I think like most children, he likes knowing those boundaries are there, because within that enclosed range, he knows he is safe, secure, protected and loved.

And that is really the best way to make sure children will become self-sufficient adults.

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/16396/

some assembly required

Some assembly required (4/8/2015)

IKEA, I will never darken your doors. Never, not ever.

In fact, if I bring home anything else that has instructions in the box, I may be divorced.

It all started years ago shortly after we married, I decided I had to have a baker’s rack and brought it home for Lamar to put together.

Lamar, who had a nasty case of road rash following a bicycle crash two days after we married, loaded the thing up and took it back to the store and swapped it out for one that was already put together.

Considering how painful it was to put on britches just to go in the store, he displayed his distaste for products requiring assembly.

“Don’t go buying cheap furniture that has to be put together,” he has said.

He’s a man of few words so for him to make such a proclamation was a pretty big feat.

I ignored it, of course, and brought in a few things that have required power tools. He has not been too happy with me, either, but has obliged, giving me a heavy sigh and a hairy eyeball all the while.

What can I say? I live in a small cabin with little storage and a lot of stuff.

I decided I needed one of those corner shelf thingies to go in the shower to hold my extra shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deep hair conditioner, extra soap, soap that smells good, soap that cleans well, soap to soften, soap to moisturize, shaving cream for sensitive skin, shaving cream for irritated skin, shaving cream that smells like flowers, and shaving cream that has some kind of chemical to keep me from shaving my legs every day.

Like I said. I have a lot of stuff.

We wandered around Bed, Bath, and Beyond for 40 minutes, looking at all the possibilities.

I found a corner shelf thingy and was deciding which finish I wanted when my dreams were ceremoniously dashed.

The corner shelf thiny needed to be put together and was $49.99.

“For 50 bucks, that thing better wash my back,” I muttered.

“I got an idea that will save you a bunch of money,” Lamar said.

“What?” I wanted to know.

“You quit putting so much junk in the shower. No one needs that much shampoo, conditioner and all that other junk that ends up falling on my head. Just put one bottle of shampoo, one conditioner, one bar of soap-and do you really need body wash if you have soap? Just leave all that stuff outta there and you won’t need a corner shelf thingy and I won’t have to put one together.”

Did I really need body wash if I had soap? What in the world was wrong with this man? Was he out of his ever loving mind? Did he not know that you washed with the soap first to get clean, then you used the body wash to make your skin soft and luxurious and smell good? How could he even suggest I not have soap and body wash in the shower?

Lamar had a near death experience then and there in Bed, Bath and Beyond and didn’t even know it.

“I want a corner shower thingy and I am going to get one,” I declared.

Maybe not a $50 one, but I was going to get one.

Finally, weeks later, I remembered my declaration in Walmart. I found one with four shelves that seemed big enough to put all my shower goodness in for $19.99.

Yes, it needed to be put together, but for $19.99, it was a bit more reasonable.

Lamar groaned when he saw what was in the buggy.

“Don’t get something I am gonna have to put together,” he pleaded.

“I will put it together myself,” I said resolutely.

I could.

I was able to figure out some stuff, surely I could figure out a shower corner shelf thingy.

But I couldn’t.

I dumped the contents into the floor and studied the instructions.

For some reason, the pictures labeled the pieces, but the items themselves were not labeled. Nothing matched up on the instructions either. The instructions didn’t make any kind of sense and I am pretty sure they were in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Lamar watched me from the couch, silently, then turned up the volume of some documentary to drown out the clanging metal sounds.

I thought I had managed to put it together, until Cole asked me what I was supposed to do with the two pieces lying to the left of me.

I realized I had the shelves on wrong and the pole was upside down. How did I do that?

“There should be a pole in it with a spring so you can fit against the tub and ceiling,” Lamar advised from the couch.

I am not sure if he was amused, felt sorry for me or was just glad he wasn’t sitting amongst 57 pieces of cheaply produced metal.

“This one maybe?” I asked, holding up a piece with something loose rolling around inside of it.

He said nothing, just frowned and turned back to his history documentary, because finding out about the downfall of a civilization is far more important than helping put together a corner shelf thingy.

“Maybe it will fit anyway, without the springy pole,” I said.

I wasn’t too sure, but wasn’t about to ask him to help when he had invoked an embargo on putting stuff together.

I was defeated and felt pretty pitiful, being bested by something that proclaimed “easy to assemble” in big, bold letters on the front.

“I will finish it for you tomorrow,” he said, not even looking up from his program.

But the next day, Lamar met the same frustration I had.

“Last night you had leftover pieces, today, I don’t have enough!” he said.

He told me there were supposed to be some whatchamacallits that were not included, too.

I decided to just take it back.

Maybe Lamar was right and I could make do with one shampoo and one conditioner in the shower. Or just one shaving cream.

When out antiquing – I did have $19.99 plus tax burning a hole in my pocket – I found a cute little table I could use in the bedroom. I texted Lamar. “Should I get it?” I asked.

Minutes passed. I knew he wouldn’t care – especially if he didn’t have to refinish it. But maybe he was mad at me for the corner shelf thingy after all.

“Do I have to put it together?” was his reply.

“No.”

“Get it. Get everything you want as long as it does not have to be put together!”

Finally – a win-win for both of us – and no assembly required!

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/16280/