Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Sweetest Words

My son is at the wonderful age of eight. When I was eight, I found Jesus and John Boy Walton, (in that order) and decided I would be the world’s greatest roller skater. On Christmas Day, during my eighth year of life, my mother gave me a diary. It was then that I began writing and playing with words.

Noah is eight, but he is his only little person, with his only little dreams and personality and aspirations. Since I stopped teaching a couple of years ago, I made a rule that I was not going to be a volunteer for Noah’s school. Nineteen years in an educational facility is enough. But I was asked to help out this year on the Wagon Wheel Press, a little newspaper that Noah’s elementary school puts out four times a year. I asked Noah if he would want to work on the paper and he enthusiastically said yes. So I caved and told them I would help. At the first meeting the kids were asked to sign up for the job they wanted: Layout, Cartoons, Editor, Writing, Photography, etc. I watched Noah. This was to be a moment I wanted to remember. My son officially signing up to be a writer. But his little sneakers took him to another spot.

“I signed up to be a photo – grapher, Mom.” (That’s how he pronounced it.)

“Great. You’ll be wonderful.”

I put on the actress make up and hid my disappointment. He knew that I would be working with the writers. He knew that I love it when he writes anything. But he is his own little guy and he loves, absolutely loves taking pictures. Gamma Joani and Grandpa Mark gave him his own little camera right before we left California. He has made great use of it here in Colorado.

So I dealt with the blow and chalked it up to one of the many, many times in my life that Noah will choose to go his own way and not his Mommy’s. That’s good, I guess. I want to raise an independent warrior, not a Mama’s boy wimp.

I think I do.

Lately when I ask Noah questions (sometimes it sounds like grilling) my son answers “I don’t know” to most of my inquiries. I have begun telling him that he is too smart for “I don’t know.” But at the same time I try not to put so much pressure on him to answer everything.

My mom, Sally Ann Floyd, was a master at getting information out of the four of her children. We all agree that she was wily and cunning. We let her in on all sorts of secrets when we didn’t even know we were talking.

I want to be like that. But I am more of an in-your-face-tell-me-now mom. I need to work on wily.

Yesterday Noah was not in school because of fall break. I love it when he is home and we don’t have anything planned. The two of us are lazy cats, moving from one thing to the next, just taking it easy. He played legos while I wrote and I cleaned the kitchen while he stepped outside to have imaginary wars in the sun. Then we both found ourselves curled up in Dad’s chair with a blanket and Scooby watching “Little House on the Prairie.”

As we sat there, watching the show but not really wrapped up in it, we started chatting. No big deal talk. He told me about the differences between Transformer Decepticons and Autobahns and I explained to him why Laura was older and a teacher in the episode we were watching.

Somewhere in the comfort of family and love and a puggle on our laps, Noah opened up his little eight-year-old heart to me. He told me stuff about his school that I didn’t know and he told me about how he felt about a couple of things. I want to put down word for word what he said because it was so precious. But I won’t, for the exact same reason. And Noah wouldn’t want me to reveal our lazy cat conversation. Those words are locked in my heart. I wasn’t really wily, either. I just listened and cuddled up. Maybe that was Mom’s secret, too.

After a while, we decided to go to the library and hang out. I love teaching him the pure joy of public libraries. He is getting it, too. We spend time in the children’s fiction and then move to the videos and finish our time downstairs on the computers. As we were leaving, I showed him a flyer I am working on, advertising a reading that I am doing at a local tearoom.

“What do you think of this, Noah? Do you like the colors?”


He paused, obviously in thought.

“Mom, you’re a famous writer, aren’t you?”

I giggled. “No, Noah, I am not famous at all.”

“Well, I think you are a great writer, Mom.”

The wind shifted and I became Mary Poppins, floating up into the sky. My heart filled up and I looked over at my boy.

“Thank you, Noah.”

I may never be famous or even have a book of my own published. I have goals and dreams, of course, and it would be lovely to have some of them come true. But no words I ever scribble, published or not, will ever mean more than those my eight-year-old boy gave me walking down the library steps.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Today I feel anything but good. I feel crappy.

Unfortunately, when this "feeling" comes my dear husband and son don't always get the bubbly warm spontaneous love they might otherwise expect. Instead they get "Harriet," we'll call her. Dear Harriet stares a lot and expects anyone within a radius of two hundred yards to read her mind. This includes the mailman who is late, the drivers who seem to be clueless to the actual laws of the road and of course her soul mate John and son Noah. John, having lived with me for eleven years senses Harriet and often has meetings and other appointments when she visits. Noah is yet to learn but is on his way.

I am trying desperately not to console her with chocolate, but you know what, it seems to tame her like a piece of zebra helps out the lion's bad mood swings.

Yes, I guess I don't need to blog about her. She could remain a private part of me, unseen to the web world. Or to the four of you who consistently read this. But you know what? Joy is a state of mind. Joy is acceptance that God is in control of whatever, whenever. This includes dear, sweet, wanta-be serial killer Harriet. She is not me. But she is a part of my life that I have to deal with. So I try to keep her calm, insist she say nothing, never, ever, to store clerks of any kind. I try to be gentle with her when she looks in the mirror and decides to cash in John's insurance for every possible plastic surgery. I whisper to her that we do, indeed, love our son very much and do not want to adopt him out no matter how big a mess he made with his muddy shoes or how many times we have to call his name before he answers. Nor do we want to call John in the middle of his meeting and yell at the top of our lungs, "He is your son. Come get him!"

The most destructive aspect of Harriet is her incessant need to have the world revolve around her. She and I (are you following?) know that this is not a realistic or Godly expectation. But it still seems to be the prevailing truth, the slogan on Harriet's t-shirt, as she travels the land.

No one loves Harriet enough. No one emails her as often as she wants or tells her that she is destined to be a great, great writer. No one comments on her blog. No one cares. In fact, most people are out to get her or abandon her or both at the same time. Poor Harriet.

God gave me, yep He actually reached down from heaven and gave me...sort of...a poem that made me laugh and take Harriet a little less seriously.

The poem is by Phillip Lopate and I read it out of Anne Lamott's Bird By Bird.

We who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting,
as a group,
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
discontent and
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift.
Your analyst is
in on it,
plus your boyfriend
and your ex-husband;
and we have pledged
to disappoint you
as long as you need us.
In announcing our
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
against uncertainty
indeed against ourselves.
But since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community
of purpose
rare in itself
with you as
the natural center,
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make unreasonable
demands for affection
is not as a consequence
of your disastrous personality
then for the good of the collective.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Come On People! A little ranting is good for the joyful soul!

My Take on the News:
• GO ROCKIES! I have waited since I was a little girl of nine years old, sitting with my dad at Coors Stadium, to see the day when my beloved Colorado Rockies would go to the World Series. Um..okay….that is completely false. We just moved to Denver last December. But the bandwagon here looks warm and inviting…Come on people, jump on!

• Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan – Come on people! How bout we just pray for them every time we hear their names. Then change the channel, turn the page…

• Did you see the Matt Lauer interview with Larry Craig, the Senator from Idaho who is wrapped up in this charge of gay solicitation in a Minneapolis airport? Come on People! I feel for the wife. I feel so much for her. She is in a lose/lose situation. I think she knows in her gut if he is telling the truth. If he is, then how horrible it must be to watch your beloved be accused and made fun of and basically tarred and feathered in public! What pain for a wife! If he isn’t, then how horrible it must be for her to be a part of his act while probably blaming herself and living in secret shame. What pain for a wife! I feel for the woman.

• A friend of mine (Thanks Tonya) sent me a link to a quiz on the internet that matches up your beliefs with the candidate who believes like you do. I took it and was extremely surprised.
Here is the link:
I need to do more studying about who I will vote for, but like most Americans I am going to really look at it the week before the election. Come on People! Niece Grace, if you read this, I admit it here and now - you know your stuff!

• So, if I get this right...Ellen Degeneres rescues a dog and gives it to her hairdresser, a lady with kids. The shelter, after a month, takes the dog back because Ellen gave it away and didn’t keep it for herself. Now, it is a big story. Ellen is crying on TV because her hairdresser’s kids are sad because they don’t have the puppy anymore. The shelter’s director is saying that she is getting death threats because they followed their policy even though Ellen is a celebrity. Iggy, the dog in question, is apparently at a new home. My opinion… Iggy-gate? Come on, People! Follow the rules or consequences happen. Even to Ellen! Poor Iggy, yes. Poor kids, yes. The shelter’s director is way too strict, yes. But come on people! Follow the rules!

• Richard Roberts of Oral Roberts University just stepped down among allegations that he and his wife used a lot of the school’s money on themselves. Come on People! It is official. You cannot be a rich Christian. Doesn’t work. Yes, I am being facetious but come on people! Power and lots of money corrupt more often than bring freedom. Of course, Richard is innocent until proven guilty. Yeah right. We wish, don’t we?

• Last night our family watched Kid Nation on TV. Interesting. My son liked it. The topic of the show was politics and the kids had an election. One girl said, “Look at George Bush. He is not smart at all and he is the president of the United States.” She was a ten year old girl. Her parents are apparent geniuses at teaching respect for authority, namely the highest ranking official in our country. Real Mensa members. Come on, People! Agree or disagree with the man, but show him respect. Last time I looked into it, calling your nations’ leader stupid is not showing respect. Come on People!

Well, I feel better...comments are welcome.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Rocky Mountain High

We human beings are a complex lot. So many components go into the mix that makes us the individuals we become. One ingredient in my life that shaped my personality was my torrid affair with John Denver.

Well, we actually never met. And before you start labeling me with words like stalker or obsessive, listen to my tale. You’ll understand that what Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. (his real name) and I shared was real…kind of.

In the early seventies my best buddy Darla and I began to sing for fun and hire. In our tiny town of Van Horn Texas, people would pay us actual money, and sometimes dinner, to sing duets at banquets, weddings, etc. We sang at our church for free and we sang around our pianos just for the joy of it. She was a great harmonizer and I could carry my share of the melody. At the time, we were enamored with the beginnings of Christian rock. We loved Petra, Honeytree and the Imperials when Russ Taff was explosive on stage. These were our peeps. In the secular market, we ate up everything the Carpenters and Linda Ronstadt gave us.

And then I met John. Okay, once again I never actually met him. But when I heard his voice, a mixture of lilting sun and down home truth, I fell in love. I introduced him to Darla and we began practicing and practicing his songs. My piano teacher, Mrs. Lovelady, allowed me to learn some of his tunes as long as I kept up on the classical ones. No problem. I memorized “Grandma’s Feather Bed” and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and felt complete joy as I let my fingers fly over the ivories.

“Sunshine on my Shoulders” took me to a place of haunting beauty, so sad and so piercingly bright. “Back Home Again,” one of my favorites, made me proud to be a small town Texas gal. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was the tune Darla and I did the most often and received the most praise for. My mom made me watch all the Jacque Cousteau specials on TV. I didn’t really enjoy them, until John sang “Ay Calypso.” I sat alone in my room and listened to “Like a Sad Song” and “Rhyme and Reason” and “Fly Away” over and over. I took hours and learned to play “This Old Guitar” on my dad’s Martin. It was a blissful time, hanging out with my best friend Darla and singing the songs of my adolescent love John.

John Denver followed me to college but life happened. When he and Annie, for whom he penned “Annie’s Song,” got a divorce, I was devastated. I always pictured the two of them together around a campfire up in the mountains of Colorado perfectly happy. And yes, sometimes in my fantasy I was sitting among their friends, John laughing easily with me and asking me to sing along with him.

But after the divorce, John changed. He became more political and less, well free. I guess we just kind of fell apart. I officially broke up with John after I went to one of his concerts in 1986 in Dallas, Texas. He wasn’t the young man who dared me to dream of freedom and love and joy. He was an adult who ranted about politics and the environment and EST – his form of spirituality, but who did it with an undertone of bitterness. And he had dropped those beloved round wire rim glasses and gotten contacts. The nerve.

After the concert I told him good-bye. I wasn’t angry. I was just hurt. And I still thanked him for the absolute joy he had given me every time I had sung or listened to his music.

Eleven years after that concert I was living in San Diego, California married and teaching. On October 13, 1997, I got up, dressed and drove to Horizon High School. A very normal Monday morning. But the radio gave me news that made the day anything but. John Denver had died the night before in a plane accident up the coast of California off Monterey.

In the parking lot of that high school, I sat and cried. Teacher’s meeting was about to begin but I couldn’t move. Honest to goodness real grief poured out. John Denver, a great memory and a part of what made me Robbie, was dead.

I felt silly crying over someone I had never actually conversed with, but at the same time I validated every feeling with a simple truth. His music and all those songs were the musical score to my junior high and high school existence. He made a difference in my life. With his twelve string guitar playing in the background, I learned to dream. Seriously.

My friend Darla was in a boating accident when she was twenty and suffered a horrible injury to her brain stem. She lost her memory. I have seen Darla several times over the years, but she never knows my name or who I am. But you know what? She remembers every single word to those John Denver songs we sang.

That says something.

This week is the tenth anniversary of his passing. I now live in Colorado and will some day make the three and half hour pilgrimage to Aspen and tour the John Denver Sanctuary. I’ll play his songs all the way there and I will allow myself the pleasure of simple nostalgia and real grief. Our torrid affair is long over, but the memories of him, like mental photographs of old loves, are sweet and clear like the Colorado night sky.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Today, it's all about....me!

I have been asked by a couple of other blogger-babes to list the following, so here goes:

Eight Little Known Facts about Me:

1) I have finished the Sunday New York Times Crossword puzzle one time and come close three or four times. My dream - to be good enough to go to the National New York Times Crossword puzzle contest in Connecticut...some day, Auntie Em...

2) Jimmy Stewart once looked at me, in the eyes, and said "Have a wonderful night." This is extremely close to "Have a Wonderful Life." Extremely. If you don't know who Jimmy Stewart is, don't tell me. I will secretly disdain you for a long time.

3) In high school, I was beaten at regionals by the girl who would later become the State Winner of Tennis singles. My serve was incredibly strong and fast. Even though that was over twenty-five years ago, I still lie to myself and see myself as a great player. Until of course, I begin to run for a ball.

4) At Disneyland I saw Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg walking around. Yes, of course, I took the next hour to stalk them. Not a proud moment in my life, but one that was quite fun.

5) My tuna fish sandwich is known throughout the land as one of the finest creations any amateur sandwich maker has ever concocted. True. Absolutely true. My secret? Like I would actually put it out there so the four of you reading this would know.

6) I enjoy reality T.V. Don't start with the "It's all rubbish" or "It's the lowest form of entertainment." I find it intelectually stimulating as well as fodder for my deep prayer life. Okay, not really. It is rubbish and it is the lowest form of entertainment. But it can be fun.

7) I am the youngest of four. Perry, Karen and Phil - my syblings - are all extremely outgoing and fun and when we get together our families have a hoot! However, our parents, both deceased now, were quiet and introverted. Hmmmm. Those who know our family have often commented on this phenomena. See the Discovery Channel this November for more...

8) I'll end with a few bullets - I threw up on a guy on our first (and only) date - I spent six weeks in Russia as a missionary teaching English - I was put on probation and was almost fired my first year of teaching - AND - No matter what I do or don't do, Jesus loves hanging out with me. Yes, I ended on a spiritual note. I love my God!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Best Conversation

I was fifteen years old in a Baptist Church Wednesday night meeting. We youth sat in the back, waiting for the thing to be over. I fell asleep and then heard my name called by the preacher.

Startled, I opened my eyes and asked “What?”

“Will you pray for James?”


My friend Darla was snickering beside me. The preacher said, “Let’s pray.”

I leaned over and whispered, “Darla, what’s with James?”

“He’s very sick, Robbie. He has to have a surgery.”

“Really?” I couldn’t believe our friend was hurt and I didn’t know.

Everyone in the small church remained silent for a long time. No one was praying. I sighed, martyr-like, and concluded that I would have to be the most spiritual person in the room. Again. I would begin praying. No one else was.

Out-loud I said, “Father please help James.” As I continued asking for help with the surgery, I heard the other teenagers around me giggling. I couldn’t believe how unspiritual and immature they were. “In Jesus name, Amen.”

The pastor rang out, “Yes, Amen.”

Everyone stood and started milling out chatting and laughing.

I looked at Darla. “What is your deal?”

She laughed and told me, “Two things. First James is on a trip. He is not sick at all. Second, Pastor King asked us to pray silently.”

I was furious and embarrassed and made my way out amongst the kidding of the other teens. At the door I ran into Mr. Thomas, a dad of one of my friends and a jokester himself.

“Robbie,” he said to me in a loud Texas accent, “If I thought praying out loud would’ve gotten us out of here quicker, I would’ve done it before you.”

Laughter erupted again among the church folk. I sulked.

I have been aware of the concept of prayer all my life. In elementary school, I learned the Lord’s Prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep” and “Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub.” When we ever returned from a trip in the car, Daddy would always say, “Thank God for a safe trip.” He would pray before dinner sort of, in a passive way, saying, “Lord knows we’re thankful. Let’s eat.” In my teens and twenties, the legalistic years, I often prayed to show others how ultra-spiritual I was. (Like the story above.)

But sometime during the last fifteen years of my life, I have come to really understand that prayer is much more than reciting a memorized ditty or listing things to get or people to be blessed. It is a conversation between a person and the Best Friend anyone could ever have. So, for years I have worked hard on praying as unrehearsed as I could. Just pouring out my heart to the King of Kings. In doing so, God has developed in me such a love for Him. The kind of easy friendship you have with someone really close to you. During the time my mother struggled with cancer and then after she died, I remember yelling at the top of my lungs at my Father in heaven. I was so angry. He could handle it. After my son was born and struggled for life in the NICU, I remember sobbing and praying with moans. God held me tightly. When I met John and found that love would be a part of my life, I used to dance, literally dance in my room at night and pray thanksgiving to the Matchmaker of all. Prayers filled with my words have become a natural part of my existence.

But life is cyclical and at forty-five, I find myself enamored with prayers that others have written. I start every day with a prayer by John Stott that I have memorized. It seems to be all inclusive of praise. I have been part of a twelve step group for about five years and their 3rd step prayer is fabulous. Recently, I found a Celtic prayer that I love. (See below for all of these.)

I still pour out my heart to the Lord, as well as laugh with Him and plead to Him to take care of others. He is like this imaginary super hero that is not imaginary at all. Super God is worth talking to and listening to. Just takes practice and a bit of faith. Makes my life so much fuller. Do you know any great prayers that help you connect to the Father, Son or Holy Spirit? I would love to hear them. In the meantime, take a moment and read my three favorite prayers. The Joy Giver of All would love hearing from you.

Prayer by John Stott, a British evangelist: “Good morning, heavenly Father; good morning, Lord Jesus; good morning, Holy Spirit. Heavenly Father, I worship You as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Lord Jesus, I worship You, Savior and Lord of the world. Holy Spirit, I worship You, Sanctifier of the people of God. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in Your presence and please You more and more. Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow You. Holy Spirit, I pray that this day You will fill me with Yourself and cause Your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me. Amen.”

3rd Step Prayer from 12 Step Groups: “God, I offer myself to You to do with me and build with me as You will. Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy power, Thy love and Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always.”

From a Celtic Prayer: A Prayer in ‘The Middle Years’ of Opportunity
“Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organize myself in the direction of simplicity.
Lord, teach me to listen to my heart; teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it.
Lord, I give You these stirrings inside me. I give you my discontent,
I give you my restlessness, I give you my doubt,
I give you my despair. I give you all the longings I hold inside.
Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth; to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.”

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Yep, You!

Do you know how God sees you right now, this moment?

Kind of like my son saw himself after a karate lesson.

A while back, we enrolled our then six-year-old son Noah in a marshal arts course. For about six months Noah learned a few moves, but didn’t really enjoy the class. He found he wasn’t automatically going to be a Ninja or a Power Ranger. Then his instructor gave him a pair of plastic numchucks and attempted to teach him a routine using the fake weapons.

Watching Noah perform that routine was painful. He threw the numchucks this way and that way but never quite in the right direction. I felt I was watching one of those blooper shows where they show all the accidents.

More than once I uttered, “Oh!” while grimacing, hoping his performance would end.

On the ride home that night, I felt it was my job as a mother to rescue his ego and build up his bruised self esteem. I would be gentle and subtle and encouraging.

I began in somewhat of a vague fashion.

“Noah, you worked hard on your numchucks routine.”

My comment was non-committal, yet rang with optimism.


He obviously knew it was bad.

“Noah, what did you think of your routine?”

I decided to ask him for the obvious answer and then I would begin my job to rebuild his little self image.

“Mom, I was fan-tastic!”

He was serious. He began recounting how his moves were fun and how he really enjoyed using the numchucks.

I laughed and listened with delight as my confident little boy went on and on about how he did his best and it was great.

So how does God see you right now? He is looking at you as you read this and He is saying, Beloved, you are fan-tastic! It doesn’t matter if you hit yourself in the head with numchucks. It doesn’t matter if you screwed up at work or with your family. He is the lover of your soul. Period. So much he gave up His Son to die for you.

Yep, you.

You are fan-tastic!

Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with loving kindness I have drawn you.”

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Common "Scents" can be Dangerous

My good friend Joani gave me a gift card from Bath and Body Works for my birthday with a note that said, “Pamper yourself.” I do what Joani tells me to do. So, I headed to the mall and found the store, armed and ready for pampering.

I have been in Bath and Body Works twice, both times for just a moment or two. I never buy lotions because a) I always get them as gifts and b) my mom raised me in a Jergens only home, so I have never really used anything but your basic whatever-looks- like-Jergens-at-the-store brand.

But today was my day of pampering. I thought I was ready. I wasn’t.

After only a few moments in the store I felt overwhelmed. I was unprepared for the majesty, the pure extravagance, the mass quantities of lotions, body sprays, bath gels, and shower foams to just name a few. Three large walls housed families of different scents. Cherry blossom, sea cucumber, sugar vanilla and more. They all stared at me.

Non-shopper panic set in.

“Can I help you?” She looked twelve and was way too perky.

“Um, well...” I didn’t know where to start. “I guess I am trying to pamper myself.”

“Oh, like, good for you!” Once again, way too perky. “How can I help?”

The next question was born out of self-preservation. I didn’t know what to do, (Joani if you read this, I apologize) and I thought I should just run home. Ergo, I asked the tackiest question humanly possible.

“Do you buy back gift cards?”

Her perkiness disappeared, replaced with a teenage disgust used mainly for mothers and anyone with clashing outfits.

“Like, no.” She walked away.

I sighed. “Okay, Robbie, you can do this.”

I don’t know what I expected when I walked in, maybe a personal masseuse or a guide to scents who wasn’t dealing with, like, acne. But I set the expectations aside and set out to find something that would pamper me

Once I began sniffing and spraying, a sense of feminine power came over me. I am woman, hear me roar. Well, actually smell me…smell good. Anyway, everything smelled so nice that I couldn’t choose. I ended up selecting several little bottles of different scents.

At the counter, I was waited on by a woman closer to my age and much less perky.
“Congratulations! You bought some excellent products.”

“Thank you.” I wondered why she would congratulate me. It wasn’t as if I received a degree in scent-ology in the aisles of Bath and Body Works. It wasn’t like I passed some milestone in my life, having never shopped for lotions. Well, actually...

As I walked away, I started to feel woozy.

“Wow.” I thought. I smell…strong.

Then, and only then did I notice little white sheets of paper below all the scented lotions and sprays. Apparently, spraying those little pieces of paper helps the consumer distinguish between scents and saves the rest of the world from coming in contact with said consumer after having sprayed each and every scent upon her person.

Too late.

I walked out of Bath and Body Works with a Pig Pen cloud above me full of cherry blossom and sea cucumber and sugar vanilla and more.

The smell was so strong I felt a bit dizzy. I couldn’t figure out which way the food court was. I was completely disoriented.

“Excuse me, miss, do you need some help?” The voice had an accent.

I whirled around and saw a lovely young woman with huge teeth.

“Which way is the food court?”

“Give me your hand and I will tell you.”

“What?” I was in a scented fog.

“Give me your hand.”

She took it and began buffing a nail.

“I’m sorry…”

“The food court is that way, but first let me show you something.”

For the next few minutes I was completely in Shirley’s control. It was as if I couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, couldn’t do anything but listen to her dazzling sales speech about the Dead Sea Nail system. Shirley was from Israel. She knew the Dead Sea’s power.

She showed me the one nail she had buffed.

“Wow!” I was completely intoxicated. In my right mind, I would’ve said thank you, but no thank you and been on my way. But the scents, her powerful sales pitch, the glistening fingernail under the mall’s fluorescent lights. “Wow.”

“How much?” I couldn’t help myself.

“It is $99. But for you, only you, I make it $49.99.”

“I’m sorry, but I…”

“Do you have sister?”


“Okay.” Her Israeli accent was strong as ever, but she ducked her head and whispered. “I give you one for $49.99 and a second one…” She paused for effect. I was completely with her and actually leaned in to hear what she would say next. “…free.”

“Wow.” Again, I felt drunk with the Bath and Body love and still dizzy. The food court was where I was headed, but at that moment, the Dead Sea Nail system was the most important thing in my life. Karen, my sister, and I could enjoy one strong shiny nail a piece. But then I saw John’s face, the keeper of the budget.

“I want to, Shirley. I do.” She was my best friend at this point. “But I can’t.”

“Fine,” she said and for a second I thought I had offended my new soul mate but then I saw her reach and get a Dead Sea Nail system and thrust it in my hands.

She turned her back on me as if the deal were done. “You take, $25.”

This is when I said something that completely proves how out of control my faculties were. “You would do that for me, Shirley?”

“Yes. How you pay?”

I took my stinky self with one shiny strong nail and stumbled into the food court, Bath and Body scents and Dead Sea Nail system in bags. I sat down with my Subway sandwich, two chairs away from a couple.

They got up and moved while twitching their noses.

I almost apologized to them, but at that point I trusted no one. They could’ve been Amway salespeople and I would’ve actually invited them over to my house to hear about an exciting opportunity.