Anniversary #31

Today was our wedding anniversary — thirty-one wonderful, adventurous, romantic years together.  Paul provides the wonderful and I provide the adventurous.  The romantic just is.  I thought I’d give a report on our day, so that all of you who don’t have the first idea how to have a great anniversary together will get a few pointers.

Gifts — For weeks I pleaded with Paul to give me some ideas of what he wanted.  My eyes glazed over when he mentioned the technology items.  I don’t do technology.  It mortally confuses me. 

Finally he announced the need for a new set of dress trousers.  I had just about simultaneously gotten the same brilliant idea, having noticed a  huge white wear spot on the pocket of his navy blue slacks just that morning as he stood at the front of the church.  The entire church family saw the need at the same moment I did.  Humility is not something I have to strive over-hard for.  Opportunities abound.

So I thought the problem of an anniversary gift was solved.  Not.  Finding Paul trousers is a monumental challenge.  He is long and thin.  The trousers available have the dimensions switched around.   32 x 34 will work; 34 x 32 will not.  I was still looking today without success.  Fortunately, I had a book stashed away for his birthday, which had to do anniversary duty.

When he hauled out several presents for me, I felt like a heel — until I opened them.

Gift #1 — A homemade Fernando Ortega CD case — without the CD.  “Thank you, Paul.  I have always loved Fernando Ortega’s CD cases.  Usually they come with a CD inside.”

“Oh, did I forget the CD?  Duh.”  He ambled off to his man-den in the basement to retrieve the music portion of the Fernando gift.  He had downloaded the music (legally) from the Internet and made a lovely case and all — just forgot to put the CD in it.

Gift #2 — A Hershey Milk Chocolate-flavored lip balm — with instructions to smear it, but not to eat it.  I normally do not use lip balms.  Petroleum jelly out of a jar serves the same purpose quite effectively.  Beebee asked if I knew how to use lip balm, or if she needed to demonstrate for me.  She probably just wanted the first lick.

Gift #3 — A bag of Lemonheads.  Yes, exactly.  The same candy they sell at swimming pool concession stands.

I now understood why, whenever I had pleaded for gift ideas, Paul had consistently stated he only wanted a bag of circus peanuts and a tube of braunschweiger to fulfill his fondest dreams.  He had hoped to put our gifts on an equal plane.

(The man gave me roses and truffles, too, but Lemonheads and CD-less CD cases are more fun to talk about.)

Other festivities —  We spent a romantic afternoon together at ShopKo Optical.  I have needed new glasses for a while, not being able to see overmuch out of the old ones.  They had a huge 25% off sale, and Paul generously offered to buy me any $49.95 frame in the place.  (Actually, I was the one who opted for the $49.95 pair.  The $99.95 frames looked a little nicer, but the price tag hanging from them wasn’t near as elegant as the one on the $49.95 pair.  I know cool when I see it.)

We dined on petite sirloin at Applebee’s.  It was a weird experience having the cook bring our steaks to the table and stand over us, demanding that we cut it and make sure it was done to our taste.  He refused to leave until we had done so.  It must be a custom peculiar to Applebee’s.  A few minutes later, the waitress came by and asked in a whisper if we had “cut our steak for anyone yet.”  I’ll bet it has nothing to do with whether the steak is done to perfection.   They probably don’t trust the customers to handle knives without supervision until the management is sure they are mature enough to manipulate sharp objects alone.  We were being tested.  I got so nervous I tried to cut with the serrated edge up, but they let me keep my knife anyway.

While I demonstrated my knife-wielding prowess for the cook, precious seconds were lost, and the butter ran off my baked potato and into the zucchini.   I was disappointed.  If they had wrapped that potato in traditional foil, the butter would have stayed put.  Sigh!

We dressed up for our big occasion.  Paul wore a sweater and white jeans (because I could not find dress slacks for his anniversary present, no doubt).  I wore my beautiful hunter-green tunic with the Nehru collar.  I fell in love with it and its $3.00 tag at Goodwill three years ago.  I look ever so chic in it, but have not had the courage to wear it in public, since I don’t see other ladies flaunting football player-size padding in their jacket shoulders right now.  I keep hoping such fashion will come back into style eventually.  (Beebee tells me it is coming back, but only young ladies who have never yet had opportunity to do huge shoulder pads are allowed to wear such things.  Old ladies who had their chance back in the 80’s do not get a second shot at it.  I will never understand the rules of fashion.)  Anyway, I figured nobody at Applebee’s would know me or care, so I wore it and enjoyed myself.  I sashayed around Target after dinner in it, too — again looking for the elusive 32 x 34 trousers necessary to restore my man to respectability.

Shopping Excursion

My daughter Beebee and I went thrifting at St. Vincent de Paul this morning. I can find a story in almost anything, but there is ALWAYS a story waiting to happen at Vinnie’s. Today, it was a mob of grownup sisters shopping with their mom. There was the bushy, long-haired gal who was the consultant of the family. We’ll call her “Cinderella” for convenience’ sake. (Don’t ask why, just live with it. Beebee informs me she was no Cinderella.) Her sisters were taking up two of the three dressing rooms for a very long time. It was long, not only because they had to try on lots of stuff, but because of how they went about it. Go there in your mind with me:

Sister #1 puts on an outfit. She steps dramatically forth from the dressing room and strikes a modeling pose, to be admired by all. I happen to look their way, just then, because they are all loud. (I am in the book department, yards and yards away.) “Loud, loud, loud,” as the Dick, Jane, and Sally readers would say. Sister #1 does not look appealing in her outfit. Cinderella thinks otherwise.

“Ooohhh, Rachel, you look beautiful! Mom! Mom! Come see! You gotta see this!” Rachel looks anything but beautiful, and the dress does not help. Wrong color, a few sizes too small. Mamma waddles over. She has been in a completely different section of the store, so it takes some time for her to arrive. But she hears the call and makes her way as fast as her legs will carry her.

They ooh and aah briefly, and then go on to the next outfit. Sister #1 seems to be majoring on smart little dresses and power suits. Each one has to be modeled, exclaimed over, and discussed to the Nth degree, whether she is going to take it home or not. Even if she does not like an outfit, she models it for the family and the rest of us poor people waiting to get a dressing room.

After we have heard several outfits declared cute (they might have been — on somebody several sizes smaller than Sister #1), Cinderella wants to know, “Rachel, what size do you wear?” Rachel announces to anyone who doesn’t care to hear that she wears 8’s and 10’s. This is why the stuff she is trying on looks so awful on her. Yours Truly only wears 8’s or 10’s when the clothing is from a very expensive shoppe–or when someone has sized it wrong. Yours Truly wears 12’s, 14’s, and an occasional 16. This woman is quite a bit larger than Yours Truly. She is also tall, and is trying on petite-ish type thingies. It is embarrassing to look at her, stuffed into those little bitty outfits. I wonder what is wrong with the family. They all look like normal, average, attractive people. They do not appear to have mental challenges of any sort. Clothing challenges, yes, however. (Please understand that I do not have issues with large. One can be very attractive and large. It is all in how one dresses.)

Sister #1 continues to pose and model for us, with an occasional interruption from Sister #2, in the next dressing room. She also likes to wear her clothes way too small. She is not into power suits and business dresses. She is doing shorts and slacks. (Beebee’s feet are sore from standing. My eyes and mind are sore from watching.) Sister #2 does not have the confidence and modeling ability of Sister #1. She does not jump and strut out of her dressing room and strike poses. (Good, I’m getting too much of this already.) She can’t find pants that are long enough, but they are plenty tight enough to make her happy. Finally, Voila! pants that are long enough. The whole family agrees that they are long enough AND cute! Sister #2 does not like them, though. They are “too baggy” (translation–they fit her just fine for a change). Cinderella likes them and thinks she should buy them. She turns to me for moral support. Aaaarrrrgggghhh!!!! She wants my opinion. I am shocked. I mumble that they look fine to me. (Why drag me into this? Do I look like a fashion designer in my neon blue-and-cranberry jacket with the clashing red sweater underneath? And why AM I taking issue with other people’s clothing choices when I wear this thing all over town? Perhaps I ought to accessorize with a paper bag over my head.)

Before Cinderella asks for further expounding from me, we are all distracted again by Sister #1 bounding forth from her dressing room, in a cute little business suit that would have fit Princess Di about right–but Fergie would never have attempted it. (Fergie has brains. She looks elegant and nice. I like Fergie, in her own little way. She may be a worldly gal, but she is winning.) They all decide after much deliberation that she MUST buy the outfit because of the blouse and blazer, but the skirt should not be worn (neither should the rest of it, but yes, the skirt DEFINITELY should not be worn). If any of us had a curiosity to know the exact dimensions and shape of Sister #1’s tummy, we are curious no longer. It is starkly framed in black and white checkerwork. It will be starkly framed in my mind’s eye for the next decade, at least. (I have a tummy. I know that pictures are supposed to be framed — but not tummies.) How she managed to zip or button that skirt is beyond comprehension. Yes, let’s avoid wearing the skirt.

By this time, Beebee and I are wondering if we will get to try on our stuff before closing time (noon). It’s 10:35 when we begin to whisper our wonderings about this. The two sisters finally exhaust all the outfits in the store that are too small for them, as well as all the commentary they can think of on how all the outfits in the store that are too small for them looked on them.

We get one of the dressing rooms. Cinderella finally gets her turn in the one next to us. She is thinnish, and I thought perhaps she might not be trying on stuff three or more sizes too small for her. However, I am mistaken, for I hear her shout loud enough so that the people in the furniture department know all about it, that she “couldn’t even get it on over her ….” We didn’t want to know, Cinderella!

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