I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em

It turns out that I’ve had a little bit of blow-back on my post about movies with my name in them. Turns out that people dearly LOVE that Melissa McCarthy, and a few followers let me know that they weren’t any too happy about my assessment of her new film.

To be clear, just because I don’t like or appreciate something and mention it here in a less than favorable light doesn’t mean that I’m in attack mode. In this particular case, I was just (playfully) bummed that my name was the title of a goofy movie with a somewhat slovenly heavy girl as the title character. Um…hello…maybe because I AM A SOMEWHAT SLOVENLY HEAVY GIRL? Ahem.

So, here’s the thing–when I started blogging  (11 months and 1 week ago…hard to believe it’s been that long), my intention was to try really hard to not throw anyone under the bus. I’m not sure that I’ve totally lived up to that goal, but I do think I’ve taken a whole lot more jabs at myself than at anyone else. Luckily for me, I happen to like laughing at myself, and it’s pretty darn entertaining most of the time (if I do say so myself). Interestingly, that’s the basis of the humor of many popular comedians, including….yep…Ms. McCarthy herself.

This is a good reminder for me, though, that I need to learn to appreciate all kinds of feedback…not just the, “Oh girl you crack me up!” kind. Not that I’m gonna change my style; I write like I think, and it’s true to who I am. I do want to grow my writing, but a big part of it is always going to be about poking sticks at stuff…myself included.

Oh, and I just realized that this, my friends, is my 99th post! Now I have to start worrying about what #100 is gonna be! Who knows, maybe I’ll finally tell you about that time I…well, you’ll have to come back to find out, won’t you?

sarcasm

Don’t make me channel my inner Cher on you….

One of the major problems with being blonde and spending your growing up years in the deep south is definitely sunburn. I’ve never had a real tan in my entire life…I go from beet red to pink to alabaster within about a day or two, so I gave up even trying many years ago.

Once, when we were in our late teens, my sister got a really, really bad sunburn. You know the kind–people stop and stare at you in the 7-Eleven (whispers of, “…look at that poor child!” carrying across the isle). You just want to sleep but that isn’t an option, since even 1000 thread-count Egyptian cotton bed sheets feel like sandpaper. It’s just a royally shitty time.

Now, Lynnie’s never exactly been known to suffer in silence, so that particular evening promised to be a tough time for everyone concerned. She was getting pretty worked up about being so uncomfortable and her curses were starting to turn into moans that echoed through our Mama’s apartment. I had heard somewhere that soaking in a tea-solution is supposed to help, so I drew a bath for my patient and dropped in a big old handful of Lipton teabags (we’ve never been a Tetley family).

Once the brew was sufficiently steeped, I led a reluctant Lynnie into the bathroom and finally convinced her to ease herself down into the tepid tub. To say that she wasn’t happy about it would be understating the situation…by this time she’d worked herself into quite a frenzy.

“This is NOT going to help,” she half-whined/half-spat at me, her already reddened face twisting into a scowl that was heading more and more toward the purple end of the spectrum.

Pleeeeeease just give it a minute to work,” I pleaded, but I could see her anxiety building.

I had already figured out that things probably weren’t going to end well, but I actually got a little scared within another few seconds. My poor blistered sissy was shaking like a crazed chihuahua and crying like a woman who’d just heard that her ex was dating her best friend AND had just won the lottery!

‘NOW what do I do???’ I thought to myself. Was she going into shock or….oh good Lord…did she fry her BRAIN?

My efforts to calm her down weren’t having any impact at all and, before I even knew what I was doing, I just reached out and slapped the poor girl squarely across her (already painful) face! I don’t know what in the hell I was thinking! I just did what came to me (and immediately regretted it), but before I could even apologize, the crying and shaking actually STOPPED. Lynnie’s eyes were huge and focused on me, but her moans quickly dwindled down to whimpering and the tannin in the tea started working its magic. I was stunned. I don’t know how, but I had somehow fixed things. (Of course, it’s possible that she was just afraid I was going to stab her or something worse, but I just figured that I’d take it for what it was worth and claim it as a victory.)

Please reference the video clip below of Moonstruck-Cher slapping a (pre-Hollywood teeth) Nicolas Cage while yelling, “Snap OUT of it!” I swear to you that my tea bath slap was almost exactly like that…I even recreate the moment in my mind complete with me having a huge black 1980′s Italian hairdo. Um…yeah…I can totally see that, can’t you?

 

 

 

 

Bring in the ‘stunt Tammy’!

My name seems to motivate movie makers in strange ways.

According to Wikipedia, the first Tammy movies were a series of four light-hearted American films about a naive 18-year-old girl from Mississippi. The main character is Tambrey “Tammy” Tyree, portrayed as a sweet and polite country girl looking for romantic love. Tammy’s speech is stereotypical of dialects of the rural Deep South. Some elements common to each film are: Tammy falling in love; Tammy singing about being in love; Tammy being hurt by sophisticated city folk; city folk learning something from Tammy; Tammy praying to God and talking to her grandmother; Tammy quoting from the Bible; and Tammy relating the wisdom of her grandfather, a lay-preacher and moonshiner.

The movies covered some pretty deep topics:

  • Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) – Tammy saves a man from the swamp and falls in love. (I personally think Tammy and the Married Man Pretending to be a Bachelor would have been much more entertaining…but it was the 1950′s, so even with twin beds I guess that idea wouldn’t fly.)
  • Tammy Tell Me True (1961) – Tammy goes away to college, meets a man and falls in love. (Based on the title, it’s obvious that, by the age of 22, Ms. Tyree had become a compulsive liar.)
  • Tammy and the Doctor (1963) – Tammy meets a doctor and falls in love. (They don’t specify if it’s an MD or a psychologist, but my thought is that, at the ripe old age of 25, Tammy decides that it’s finally time to treat the delusions that have haunted her for years. Oh, Wikipedia didn’t mention that the grandmother she talks to is dead and that Tammy’s best friend is a goat.)
  • Tammy and the Millionaire (1967) – Tammy works for a millionaire and falls in love. (By this time, Tammy seems to have become a full-blown gold digger. Light-hearted? I think not.)

Now we have a new Tammy movie to throw into the mix. It’s not out yet, but my namesake in this one is pretty much a female Chris Farley, and the plot is about an unkempt, overweight, down on her luck burger flipper with really bad hair who goes on a crime spree after losing her job and finding that her husband is cheating on her.

Can we get the hillbilly goat-talker back?  Please…?

Yeah, Stevie Nicks gives me advice

I don’t remember the first time I ever listened to the song Landslide by Fleetwood Mac, but I do remember the first time I really heard it. I was driving to work in late 1997, distracted by worry about my marriage to #1. Things had been rocky for a while and I knew that I needed to call it quits, but it’s a big old decision and I was having a helluva hard time getting there. All of a sudden, I heard Stevie Nicks’ voice on the radio and these words jumped out at me:

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older and I’m getting older too…

Damn…she was obviously singing TO ME.

Now, I won’t say that a song caused me to move forward with separating from my husband, but it certainly helped me do some necessary soul-searching and it was a real catalyst for making a very difficult decision.

Ever since that day, Landslide just happens to show up in my life whenever I’m going through tough times…it’s bizarre and sometimes feels like I put in a request to some cosmic DJ to play it. I’ll be stressing out over some crisis or other and BLAM!…there’s Stevie, reminding me that I just need to handle the seasons of my life. I know it sounds nuts, but synchronicity is real in my life, and when the universe is trying to tell me something, I listen!

This has been a tough week. I’ve been feeling down for days because of some very hard decisions that I had to make. I know that the choices I made will ultimately be best for me, but they sure hurt like the devil right now. Naturally, while driving to work this morning, I flipped to a channel that I rarely listen to and…BLAM…there was Stevie singing to me, reminding me that time does make you bolder, that life is fleeting, and that change is a huge part of it. How I managed to turn to that damn radio station at the precise moment that the intro started for a song from 1975…no clue. But it almost took my breath away because, in that moment, I knew that I was okay with my choices, and that my life is worth making hard decisions for.

On a lighter note, Landslide is also one of my standard karaoke songs. Since my voice is pretty deep I sound more like the old Stevie, but that’s part of the I’m getting older too part, I guess. As you can imagine, it’s quite a dramatic rendition.

 

 

 

How I’m the Cesar Milan of exes

Being a cat lady in training, I usually write about feline critters, but hubby #2 and I actually had two cats and a dog. Not being a particularly active couple, we should probably have gotten a puppy that would happily grow into a couch potato (like us), or so Animal Planet (and common sense) would tell you. Naturally, we instead opted for an incredibly hyper, Mensa-qualified Australian Shepherd who was more neurotic than I am. We named her Callie, short for the name in the old Louis Jordan song (“Caldonia! Caldonia! What makes your big head so hard?”) I had no idea how appropriate it would end up being, that’s for sure!

To add fuel to that smoldering inferno-to-be, #2 truly believed that it was a dog’s job to bark at strangers and to protect us. Yep, this 6’4″ almost 300 pound man needed a 40 pound dog to guard US. By the age of a year and a half, our little Callie was a noisy, annoying, obnoxious dog who spent a lot of time herding me around the house. (Her favorite was to try to drag me by the hem of my bathrobe, but jeans would suffice. There was also a lot of good old heel nipping.) A few times she tried to back-foot me out of bed, so that she could be with her man! #2 would just laugh and laugh at our problem child.

Callie

This is what I was dealing with…yeah, she looks cute in this Glamour Shot, but looks are deceiving!

The duo spent a lot of time together while I was at work (and they…um…weren’t), so my efforts to enforce order (or at least reason) were pretty much useless. I often came home to find them sitting on the living room floor howling together like wolves, or passed out on the couch in each other’s arms (at least #2 was the only one of the two sporting a purple Merlot mustache). Callie’s giant Alpha would have fierce tug-of-war games with her, encouraging her growls and nips…it was a runaway train.

We took Callie the Fierce to doggy daycare for a while, but it was expensive and the folks who worked there said that she rarely played much with the other dogs…she just sat on the sidelines and whined. We stopped taking her there…or much of anywhere actually…because any time she rode with us she would herd other cars while in our car, actually crashing into the windows! We conveniently lived just down the street from a dog park, so we took her there daily to help run some of the crazy hyper out of her. Well, we took her for a while, but she eventually started attacking any dog that came near us. It was at that point that I decided that we needed to do some real training, in spite of #2′s protests.

I found a trainer who would come to our house (no driving!) and I threw myself into working with her to try to bring Ms. Callie back from the dark side. #2 joined in for a bit during the first lesson, but he grew impatient pretty quickly and gave up. (I think it was about the time that the trainer turned to us and said, “I don’t know what you two were thinking, but you do NOT need to have a dog…at least not THIS ONE.”)

I didn’t give up though. This woman knew her stuff, and pretty soon she had my terrible dog sitting quietly. Within a few hours she taught Callie to stop whatever she was doing by using one command: CONTROL. I was stunned…just like those crazed dog owners that Cesar Milan helps on TV! I was thanking her for her work when she took me aside, looked around to make sure #2 wasn’t listening, looked me straight in the eye and said, “You know…these training tips work on PEOPLE TOO. I’m not telling you your business, but you should try them on…um…people.”

Over time I sorted out the mysteries of how this sweet dog got turned into a mess (naturally submissive, forced into an aggressive state, too smart to not have a job…the list is long). Callie ended up being much better after she and I learned her magic word, but it only worked for me…#2 never picked it up. I could get her to stay put, drop whatever I didn’t want her to have, or stop growling by just using a word, while my husband just mumbled under his breath about how I had ruined his dog.

I tried to follow the trainer’s advice about using the training tips in other other ways, but I never quite mastered any trick to get #2 to behave or to be happy. What I eventually did figure out was the word that worked best for ME: “Goodbye.”

Epilogue:

Callie went on to live in New Jersey with her grandmother and her Alpha. I’m told that she once chased a moving car until her face caught it and she lost a canine tooth. She supposedly had a good (if not CONTROLLED) life.

I now have a dog who comes when I call her and sits on command…but that’s another story.

 

That time I had the plague…

My sister and I have a sort of weird contest going on to see which of us can most effectively diagnose our (collective) medical symptoms. One of us will wake up with a foot twinge or some sort of rash on an arm and we both rush online to figure out what the HELL we’ve contracted. If we don’t have time ourselves to do the legwork, we network on that shit. It usually looks something like this:

fb chat 2

I should have told her to call Domino’s for me…

 

 

When Minnie the Moocher kept me awake

We were still pretty little when my grandmother up and decided that my sister and I should be musical (as if one just decided such things). She (very generously) bought what I call an upright piano (but which I’m told is technically a spinet), and Lynnie and I began taking lessons at the studio upstairs over Rice Music House (aka the Piano Store). My sister had a little natural talent and could play a bit by ear, but she didn’t really care much for practicing, so that wasn’t going anywhere. I, on the other hand, was absolutely devoid of talent, but I had my mind made up that piano was something that I might actually want to learn.

What I didn’t count on, however, was the huge gaping hole in my brain where I assume normal people have the ability to memorize things. I would practice and practice, and two minutes later it was as if I’d never heard that song before. I took lessons for at least three years, and  the only things I managed to retain were the location of ‘middle C’ and the memory of my piano teacher’s vaguely stale breath. My recitals were just downright unpleasant for everyone concerned, and I was eventually asked allowed to stop playing altogether.

So it turns out that most of the piano playing in our house was done by my granddaddy. He would occasionally wake us up by playing boogie woogie piano, completely by ear. I would snuggle down deeper into the covers, only to be reawakened by the booming notes of “Hi de hi de hi de ho!”

 It’s a very good memory.

Many years later, after both of my grand parents were gone, Mama gave that piano to our friend Mike, so that his little girl could take lessons. He and a friend loaded the instrument into the back of a pickup and off they drove, with Mike sitting on the piano bench in the truck bed, looking for all the world like he was playing a grand concerto…or some boogie woogie. I think Granddaddy would have liked that.