In times of Covid and this pandemic, we try to find ways to keep traditions alive and celebrate milestones. Krispy Kreme really came through to help with graduation, providing each Senior with a box of doughnuts free of charge. This year there's no final walk through the hallways, no exchange of yearbooks to sign and say how much you'll miss each other, good luck in the future or record some crazy high school memory that you don't want to forget. As for my Senior, she has received her cap and gown, tassel and chords, but her yearbook and diploma have not made their debut.
While sitting in the long line up 9th Street to Cervantes, I recalled a similar moment that happened in this exact spot more than 20 years ago.
My girlfriend Suzanne and I were on the way to the airport. She remembered, though much too late, that nothing had been purchased for her husband Mark. Whenever Suzanne traveled alone, she always brought Mark a little something from the area. We had five minutes to spare, if that. My mind raced. Shrimp? No, not only would that take too long, who wants to travel with raw shrimp? BBQ Sauce? No, that's more Alabama than Florida. I couldn't come up with any options between Cervantes and Airport. We stopped at the red light.
"What is a Krispy Kreme?" Suzanne asked.
This question made no sense to me. It's a doughnut. As a matter of fact it's THE doughnut in my personal opinion. Surely she was kidding and simply trying to find a way to get me to go in for a bite. Though it is harder to envision today, in that time period those circular lovelies were still a southern secret.
"It's a doughnut. Have you never heard of Krispy Kreme?" I asked.
"No" was her simple but shocking answer.
"Well, we just figured out what you're taking home to Mark!" I responded. One quick turn of the wheel and we were in the parking lot, parked and headed in.
I didn't need any time to decide. My favorite is a Glazed doughnut with Kreme Filling. I ordered one of those, a doughnut of Suzanne's choosing and then we picked out a mini box of four for Mark. Selected, paid, singles half eaten, Mark's box in hand, we returned to the car and zipped off to the airport. Crisis averted!
Suzanne called that night, not just to say that she was safely home, but to ask, "What in the hell is with those doughnuts?"
Great, crisis not averted. Didn't he like them? Seriously, what sane person couldn't love a Krispy Kreme? Was he allergic to sugar and greatness? My mind raced. All I could muster to say was, "He didn't like them?"
"Oh no, he loved them. That's not the issue," she continued.
As I searched for some sense to this situation, Suzanne went on to tell me the story. You see, it seems that when she had a layover in Memphis, the guy running the sandwich shop tried to trade Suzanne for the doughnuts. Before he rang up her order he offered an even exchange. He would trade her sandwich, drink and side for the unopened box of four undisclosed doughnuts. Suzanne explained that these were a gift so she was unable to trade for lunch. She paid, and continued on to her gate.
That may have been enough of a story, but as she checked in at the gate the attendant spotted the box. She offered Suzanne a seat in First Class in exchange for the doughnuts. It had been easy to pay for lunch and retain the gift for Mark, but FIRST CLASS?!! Suzanne loves first class! Suzanne is first class!
Suzanne gave one thought to the fact that Mark was unaware of the doughnuts. She could simply say that we had looked but didn't find anything to bring him. Shrimp could be her savior, presenting the opportunity for details as to how we'd thought of him and looked, but found it too difficult to fly with raw shrimp.
No, there was only one solution. Suzanne turned down First Class, retained the box of sweetness for her sweetie, and begrudgingly walked through first class towards coach.
Tired, disappointed, even sad, Suzanne placed her sweater in the overhead bin. The tiny seat beside hers was already occupied, amply so, by another passenger. Filling the remaining space, which is never enough when you are in coach, she placed the box in her lap. As her body settled, her eyes began to blink more slowly than before. Suzanne critiqued the decisions which led to this point. The still figure sitting next to her pronounced, in a low menacing voice, "You fall asleep and those doughnuts are mine."
In a little town on the Gulf of Mexico you could find Staff's Restaurant from 1931 until it closed in 2013. I'm proud to say that I had a meal in that family owned restaurant. An amazing slice of history for the Ft. Walton Beach area, resting now with the ages.
We took our daughter Madeline to Staff's for dinner in 1997, shortly after moving to the panhandle of Florida. She was a little thing, not quite two. Though she did well through dinner, she was ready for a change of scenery about check time. Since we had just moved, our credit card seemed to think it odd that we were dining in Florida. As Paul waited for the payment to go through, Madeline and I stepped out for a needed walk.
The only thing between Staff's and Highway 98 was a narrow sidewalk. We had two choices. We headed East which seemed a little more open and lit. Hand in hand we walked until we came to a large Live Oak tree. Madeline stopped for a little acorn collection. Once her hands and pockets were filled, we continued.
In the not-far-enough distance, I spotted a man walking West on 98. He was easy to notice as he stumbled and talked aloud to himself. Turning back to the safety of the restaurant seemed a bad idea, as he would then have been out of sight and behind us. I sized him up and decided that with the adrenaline of a mama bear, that I would surely possess if needed, I could take him. He was pretty thin and drunk.
The gap between us continued to diminish. Finally, there were only about ten feet left until the dreaded pass, on this narrowing sidewalk. We met. He stopped. We stopped. Madeline held out her hand and his met hers. She loaded him up with all of the acorns that could fit into such a tiny hand.
He smiled. It was actually a beautiful moment. He reached into his pocket. My adrenaline started to rise. I began to figure out what my best angle of attack was going to be.
He pulled out a wad of cash. Rolled in some sort of peel-off, easy access, billionaire style. As he removed what to many could have been a life savings, he said, "Now let me see what I have for you."
I quickly responded, "No, that is not necessary."
He replied, "No, it actually is. It is never too early for a child to learn the value of a dollar. She gave me these beautiful acorns and she deserves something in return." He removed the outermost dollar bill and handed it to Madeline.
My next thought was, "I wonder what she's going to think of this. Has she even seen a dollar bill? Have I taught her anything about money?"
Much to my surprise, and shredding any other thoughts I could have, Madeline SHOVED that dollar bill into the recesses of her pocket! I don't know if she knew what it was, but she certainly knew that she wanted it. Even more than the acorns!
We thanked him and said goodbye. He continued East toward Staff's and we walked a little farther West, allowing the distance between us to widen enough to warrant turning back.
Within minutes I noticed a police car passing. His lights turned on. He pulled over and stopped the man who had just educated Madeline on the value of a dollar. We turned, stayed back out of the way, but close enough to intervene on his behalf if necessary.
The two spoke for a moment. The man continued on towards Staff's and we were close enough by this point to engage the police officer in our second lesson of the night. I began, "Madi, this is a police officer. See the clothes that he wears. He is here to keep us safe."
We approached the officer, he smiled. I asked him about the man and let him know that he had not been any trouble for us. He assured me that he was simply doing his job and trying to make sure that all was well. While we were making small talk, Madeline noticed that she was once again under the Live Oak tree. She filled her hands once more. In perfect toddler style she quickly lifted her hands and offered her newly acquired goodies to the officer.
He graciously accepted her kindness and said, "Now, what do I have for you in exchange for these lovely acorns?"
My only thought was, "Where in the world have we moved to? Do these people never stop and pick up acorns? Do they not realize that they are free and ALL OVER THE GROUND?"
He pulled out a quarter and offered it to Madeline. She promptly added it to the pocket that contained the dollar. Our ten minute walk had earned her $1.25!
I turned to the officer and our eyes met. He said, quietly, so Madi wouldn't hear, "You know, that is the most that I've ever paid for a handful of acorns." I looked at him and replied, "You know the man that you stopped? He gave her a dollar!"
We both agreed that there was a lot more to the human heart than meets the eye. You never know where you will find kindness.
Humor is starting to make a comeback as we settle into "Life After Covid." At first it was surreal. Covid soon became so real that it certainly wasn't funny. Now there are moments where we think, "Wait, that was funny. Right?"
March 21st brought a change to life at the beach. All access to the green waters and white sands were removed, whether you were a visitor or a local. This certainly wasn't funny, but several things have made me smile. As much as I dislike seeing the yellow police tape spanning the access to the beach, the words "Crime Scene Do Not Cross" make me smile. I think to myself, "Perfect choice! This certainly is the scene of a crime!"
As the beaches have become off limits, locals have taken more walks and bike rides around the neighborhoods. I recently passed another walker and we kept to opposite sides of the street. He donned a t-shirt showing his allegiance to my rival football team, the Auburn Tigers. I couldn't hold back my laugh and then had to explain. I told him that normally I wouldn't chuckle at this moment, at his Auburn shirt. With Covid and all that was happening I shared my bizarre thought, "Darn, even in a pandemic I can't escape the Auburn Tigers." He laughed, I continued to smile and then we returned to our walk. Still rivals, but happier in some strange way.
This reminded me of a time at Lambeau Field. Eddie Lacy, a Green Bay Packer, had played for Alabama. I wore my houndstooth ball cap to the game along with my Packer gear and settled into our family seats. Within moments the guy behind me chuckled and asked if he could borrow my ball cap. A strange request. No true southerner could say no, so I complied. I was surprised myself to see my fingers remove my beloved ball cap and hand it to this stranger. He had the biggest smile and I was concerned. He looked at it, almost glowing, and then called to his buddy five seats to his left. "Hey Jim, check this out!" Jim turned, took one look at my cap and said, "I drove over 1,000 miles to get here and I STILL can't escape AL-A-BAMA!" We all laughed!
Will these Covid times allow for laughter? We must laugh because the body cannot survive on stress and tears alone. Find humor. Look up Covid memes. My personal favorite is the empty toilet paper roll that has been skewered with three toothpicks and placed in water to root, like an avocado seed. What about the mass celebrated by an Italian priest who accidentally activated his Facebook filters. Inappropriate laughter? YES! But it is STILL FUNNY!
Though empty shelves are not fun to look at, I did smile at the empty floor to ceiling bike section at Walmart. That was a sign that families were getting out, getting fresh air and exercise, together. Find laughter, it is out there. And don't worry, you're not a bad person for enjoying it.
Comprehending humor is a two part process. Your cognitive, or thinking side, must combine with you emotional side in an area known as the right frontal lobe. It is interesting to look at humor and really dive into it scientifically. I lack the qualifications to do so, but it is interesting to pose the question.
Monty Python. That statement either conjures up a laugh at a memory, "It's only a flesh wound." Or possibly a roll of the eyes and wishing that a wasted hour or two could disappear from your memory. Leslie Nielsen and Airplane come to mind when I think of humor that exists that I just don't find funny. Oh great, I just lost a reader. Both Monty Python and Airplane filter through my brain as a waste of time. Make that a loss of two readers. At least I want to find Monty Python funny. It seems that I would be a "cooler" person if I enjoyed that level of humor. Trust me, I've tried, but I remain unsuccessful. Seems that at least two of my girls share in my lack of appreciation for the Monty Python level of humor that my husband can't seem to get enough of.
So where is this leading? How did this deep concept of processing humor come to mind?
I texted a few photos from my impromptu February kayaking adventure to my eldest daughter yesterday. Her unexpected response was, "That last photo is a blog post, I'm crying I'm laughing so hard at your seat belted kayak." I didn't see humor when I took this photo. Yes, it was cute. Inventive. Definitely a thought out of the box. An image of a functional solution.
I purchased this car the minute my Mommy Van years came to an apparent close. I could have used the van for several more years, but somehow it was finally "OK" to cram my youngest into the back seat on occasion. My kids said that this car was my "midlife crisis." Nope! The word crisis had nothing to do with this car, other than the fact that my husband had to cosign for me and my teacher's salary to afford it...USED! Anyway, I digress.
I've looked over this photo several times during the last 24 hours and I just don't see the humor. I see utility. I see out of the box thinking. I see pride in getting myself and my kayak to the water successfully, all by myself.
The looks that I received on my drive do tend to support my daughter's version. I was thankful for my ball cap and sun glasses.
I guess the bottom line is that I brought humor and laughter to someone's day. Apparently several someones. That is my eternal goal. What my inquiring mind wants to know is, "How was your brain affected?" Did you find humor in the image? Did your cognitive and emotional processes meet in the right frontal lobe?
If you simply want to write a tribute to Monty Python, an explanation on how this is the funniest thing ever, go for it! Leave a comment, or two. Regardless, find some humor in the normal, or maybe abnormal things that pass you today as you continue your trip around the Sun.
If you haven't laughed until you physically hurt during the last 12 months, then this is a perfect goal for 2020! I have already met this goal, so now back to weight loss (oh great - I was enjoying the break).
We are about to settle back into a home. FINALLY!! We've looked in Florida since 2017, finally sold our Illinois home in 2019 after listing it in early 2018. Here comes 2020 and we've found just the right place!
The first thing to do is to arrange having our belongings shipped from Illinois to Florida. Exciting! During my call with E____ at PODS, she gathered necessary information, we chose a delivery date and then, as we were nearing the end of the planning, she said, "OK, so now I'll Google stalk you!"
I had already been through the loading and pick-up phase of PODS, so I knew just where she was going. Time to check the driveway area. "OK, I'm ready. Go for it!" I responded.
"Now don't go outside and wave," she returned.
Now I was confused. "What?" I finally spoke up after an awkward silence.
She then filled me in on a funtastic day at work where she had said the same thing, about Google stalking. The PODS patron followed the statement with, "Can you see me?"
E____, being quite confused, said, "I'm sorry?"
Yes, you guessed it. The lady was outside the house, in her driveway, waving frantically to the sky while asking E---- again if she could see her. She described fully where she was standing in the driveway, waving.
We both burst out laughing. I assured E____ that no, I was not outside waving.
It's the little things in life.
I'm the one that esurance was marketing to with the ad showing the lady taking a friend PHYSICALLY off her "wall", but referencing Facebook. The all familiar line, "That is not how this works. That is not how any of this works."
E---- had to explain, delicately, that the feed was not live. She had to do something to get the lady to quit waving up to the satellite.
This type of thing happens often.
A doctor once asked a patient if she had been walking around the mall as he recommended. My Mom was there. She was the head nurse in the clinic. The patient's response, with downward facing eyes, was "No." Out of concern for this patient in desperate need of weight loss, he continued. "Why haven't you been able to work walking into your schedule? It is important and a great place to start." The patient's simple answer was that "It is scary walking around the mall at night." She had only taken his advice once. She continued that "It's dark out there. By the time I get home from work, and get ready, it is always too dark to walk." Imagine her surprise when she found out that he meant for her to walk around INSIDE the mall!
How many times are our simple statements misunderstood?
You certainly have one to share. Leave your story in the comments and let's explore the concept of simple miscommunication and see if we can all meet our laughter goal of 2020!
Snow brings up many thoughts, some are true and some are definitely false. 'Southerners cannot drive in snow.' I've met plenty of northerners incapable of driving in snow, or at the very least, not able to drive safely in snow. 'All of the milk and bread disappear from sto
I've often had the thought that humor and sadness must be closely located in the brain. Sure, I could Google it and find out for sure, but what's the fun in that? I explore this idea a little in my book as laughter becomes part of my mother's funeral.
Here's another point of funny, not funny, so "why am I laughing?" moments. Things that should be sad, and only sad, until you break out in laughter. The moral is: it is always best to find the funny side of life. You can still make a difference, remove the sadness, and move forward, with a smile!
Focus in the U.S. to save the oceans has turned to straws. It must be working because I haven't found a straw in ages, actually I haven't picked up much garbage at all this year! Last year I couldn't take a walk without a bag to gather many items that were carelessly left behind. This year, my husband's pockets have sufficed, and they even come back empty more times than not.
Straws are definitely on the decline. I tend to find more beer bottle caps and cigarette butts than anything. There is even a local artist, Shelly Marshall, who made a sea turtle out of the cigarette butts that were picked up by a group of volunteers in ONE HOUR of beach clean-up.
So what could possibly be funny about littering? Decide for yourself.
At first I thought that this said, "Life is a Beach." Which would have been funny. Peach, ok, not so funny. So try this one:
Crud. Again, not really funny. Dogs are only allowed on the beach in particular areas. Should I mention here the man and his wife who walked on the public NON-DOG beach on Saturday and let their dog do his business and covered it up as if they were building a sandcastle? No, that definitely wasn't funny. I can also comment that I've picked up many more of these plastic kid toys and juice box straws than I have just about anything else.
Our search continues though. Still litter. Still not funny.
If you're not laughing yet, don't worry. I posted this photo on Facebook, the day that I took it, and an old friend from high school asked if she could re-post. She turned it into a meme that said, "Me, at the end of a week on the beach!" Good one Patty!
It could have been great simply left there. My nephew was next to chime in. He captioned this photo "After Spring Break" edition Barbie!
Life is all about perception. You can change any moment, even litter on a beautiful beach, into something that can make you smile. Just be sure to photograph it, share the smile and recycle!
So, It Happened Like This is filled with stories. Some are unbelievable. Many of them may help you to conjure up a memory or two of your own. All of them are real. This story is not in the book, but maybe it should've been.
Some blogs will come with a photo. This one, unfortunately, will not.
Imagine a moment. You are standing in the kitchen of your home, the blinds are open over the sink. Since you're renting a home on an island, the kitchen is on what is technically the third (top) floor. It's 4:45 and your middle daughter has joined you. She's now living most of the time on her own and needs more moments like this!
We're dicing this and slicing that. Life is good. Laughter is in the air as the youngest has two friends over for a sleepover. It is an estrogen filled home, as the nearest testosterone is taking a catnap on the sofa.
Breaking into this magical moment is my daughter's voice.
"Mom, is that a butt?"
How do you answer that? No, it's a breast. We were cooking chicken.
As I'm searching to understand her, I notice that she's gazing out of the kitchen window. I approached, took a look out at the neighborhood below and BAM! There it was! An actual BUTT!
This is one of the joys of beach living - tourists! We've woken up to late night parties, a hefty game of corn hole, the joy of one visitor jumping the fence at midnight and swimming in an unoccupied rental unit's pool, but this?
Across the street is a million dollar home. MUCH nicer than my rental, but I'm certainly not complaining. This million dollar home is up on stilts, each encased nicely and trimmed out in wood. A beautiful two-story with a pool on the side. There is a deck across the front and a tiny deck, up high, with a spiral staircase to a sunning deck that must give you a bird's eye view of the Gulf of Mexico and the sound. I digress.
Underneath the house is nothing, just the well finished pillars. The only thing between those pillars and my kitchen window are a few oleanders that could use a lot more leaves.
I looked, saw nothing, until all of a sudden, a butt appeared from around one of the pillars! A young man, thankfully athletic and fit, was showering in the outdoor rinse-off-only shower and my 20 year old daughter had a front row seat! Front row of the balcony, but still!!
We watched for a few minutes, I'm not going to lie to you. Then I recalled the other three girls in the house who were 16 and 17! Time to wake my husband.
I went over to Paul, nudged him awake and asked him to please go across the street and let the naked young man who was showering there know that the home he was renting had indoor plumbing. His response? As he rolled over he said, "I'm not going over there. Call the police if you want."
Call the police? Really?
All I knew is that I wasn't going over there. I certainly wasn't sending any of the girls. Thankfully three were unaware, so far, as to what was happening. So what did I do? I went back to the window to see if he was gone. Soon enough, he was clean, toweled, and indoors. Whew, crisis averted.
The cooking lesson continued. I went to the sink to rinse a veggie or two and BAM!
"Is that another butt?" I asked.
My daughter came over and sure enough, young male #2 was showering. What in the world?! I could hardly believe my eyes (that were strangely enough unable to turn away).
The sound of laughter and play started filtering in through the back door. On the street behind me were kids on scooters at play. Minding their business in this family friendly neighborhood. Unaware of the sights that they were about to behold, if they took two left turns.
"Hello. Yes. Police? I need some help over here. I don't want to get anyone in trouble. I certainly don't want a ticket issued, butt (I mean but) there are confused visitors across the street. They are showering outside. Naked! They've also used the front fence as a latrine. Could someone please go over and let them know that the million-dollar home that they are renting has indoor plumbing?"
They assured me that an officer would be sent out. I went back to cooking. He went back to showering, not that he had stopped. Life continued.
Unfortunately he finished his shower before the police arrived. Makes it seem like a lame story. Right?
Nope! Where there are two fit young men who need a shower, there are three!
Bachelor number three assumed the position. Butt naked, exposed easily to four homes, mine being the one with the worst view. Then it happened! A huge police SUV pulled up in front of the neighbor's house. This was most likely strategic, as there was no way he could have seen the vehicle. After a few moments, the driver's door opened and out popped a LADY OFFICER!!! I don't know if that was the luck of the draw or planned, but I burst out laughing, and scorched the chicken. She calmly walked up the circular drive. He had his back to her and continued to scrub. She approached the area where there was a break in the oleanders.
At this point she is maybe 40 feet away from him. HE BENT OVER AND DECIDED TO WASH HIS ANKLES! I kid you not!
She stepped through the first set of pillars and was under the house. He was still unaware of her presence. At about the ten foot mark, she spoke.
He jumped to attention and then in a cartoon style, seemed to walk on his toes in an exit-stage-left fashion, over to the comfort of his towel.
The rest is uneventful, except to my youngest. The officer asked him to go upstairs and get dressed. She followed him up the staircase that led to the front deck and entry. She waited while he changed and he returned with someone who appeared to be his significant other. They listened to the officer. A lot of head shaking was going on. The girlfriend/fiancé/wife didn't let him have it until after the officer left and the glass front door was closed.
Moral of the story? This would be a great place for you to comment. You finish the story. What is the moral?
Excitement is in the air! A humorous memoir, over 10 years in the making, is available online to bring laughter to a friend or loved one near you!