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  • Everything I Ever Remember About Kindergarten

    August 30, 2009

    Sean begins kindergarten shortly after Labor Day. And like every other mother in America who is sending a child off to kindergarten, I can’t believe this day has arrived so quickly. It seems like just yesterday that we found out we were expecting.

    I guess I should be reflecting on the past five years and how they have slipped away so quickly, but what I find myself thinking about is how the past 45 years have slipped away so quickly.

    It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was in kindergarten.  When I look at my kindergarten class picture, I can name nearly every student, the teacher and even the school principal.  I don’t think I’ve ever forgotten one single detail of my life, which in many ways is unfortunate, because there are many events which would best be forgotten.

    Here is everything I remember about kindergarten:

    I was in the afternoon class.  There were 30 kids in my class and one teacher — no aide like they have now.  The teacher’s name, God bless her real good, was Mrs. Kelly. According to the class picture, she had a first name and it started with “B” but no one ever knew what it was.

    PhotobucketMrs. Kelly was probably about 25 or 30, but in her picture she looks much older.  In 1965 everyone looked about 20 yeas older than they actually were. That was the style. I remember one time I called her “mom” by mistake and I thought I would die.

    In the spring, Mrs. Kelly took the entire class on a walking field trip to the IGA which was half a block from school. We had to cross a set of defunct railroad tracks and a busy two-lane road to get to the store.  And just now I’m trying to imagine doing that with 30 5-year-olds and it gives me the shivers.

    For reasons unknown, just before we got to the railroad tracks, Jean Ann D. freaked out and tried to run away.  Mrs. Kelly sprinted after her and chased her down.  I could not believe my eyes.  I was a compliant child and it would never have occurred to me to do something like that.  I distinctly remember wondering why on earth would anyone do such a crazy thing? Who doesn’t want to go to the grocery store?  When we got to the grocery store, the store manager opened a box of Capt’n Crunch and let everyone have a handful of cereal.    That pivotal moment cemented my deep and abiding love for Capt’n Crunch.

    Mrs. Kelly broke her leg during the school year (maybe chasing after Jean Ann) and so she sometimes sat in the front of the class with her foot in a cast resting on a chair. She read “Make Way for Ducklings” and  “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel” – still two of my favorite children stories.  I liked the way she held the books out to the side while she read so we could see the pictures.

    PhotobucketOne time Mrs. Kelly called me to the front of the room and pulled me up on her lap and felt my forehead.  She said I looked  like I didn’t feel well.   I had a fever and she called my dad to come and get me.  It made me feel special to sit in her lap.  I took note of it because I don’t think other than that one time, she knew I was in the class — not too surprising given the class size and the fact that I didn’t do anything crazy like run away.

    One time Mrs. Kelly brought out a box of percussion musical instruments. Everyone picked one and we all marched around the room banging on whatever lame instrument we managed to grab.  I wanted the triangle, but never got it and I certainly never got the tambourine, even after Mrs. Kelly made everyone trade instruments with someone else.  I remember feeling mighty ridiculous marching around the room banging two sticks together.  Consequently, I never took band.

    There was a little pretend grocery store set up in the classroom and sometimes we would get to play grocery store, my most absolute favorite activity.  I loved the tiny toy cash register. Everyone wanted to be the cashier. For many years thereafter, it was my dream to be a cashier.

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    One time just as the bell rang and the class was being dismissed, my boyfriend Jerry got a nose bleed.  The teacher had him lie down on the floor with his head tilted back.  All the students ran out of the room to go home, even the teacher was out in the hall.  Jerry started crying so I turned back and stayed with him in the empty classroom, kneeling down beside him as globs of blood dripped out of his nose and down the side of his face.  I was a compassionate angel of mercy even in those days.

    One day, my dad was late picking me up from school.  All the other kids had gone home and I was the last one left. The school was eerily quiet and I was beginning to get concerned.  In those days, I thought a lot about becoming an orphan and made plans about what I would do if I became an orphan.  Once I heard the word orphan and learned what it meant, I could not think of anything else. As I waited for my dad, who might not be coming for me, I imagined my exotic life in an orphanage.  As I waited,  I didn’t cry, because it would have taken more than being orphaned to make me cry. Nonetheless, I was relieved to see him when he finally showed up.

    My dad took me to school every day in his car, known as Clunker #2, which he had hand painted primer gray.  And every day before school, and I do mean every single day, he fixed me a boiled hotdog which he impaled with a fork and served up with a splotch of ketchup on a plate.  After a nutritious gourmet lunch, I would crawl up onto the bench seat of Clunker #2 beside my dad while he drove me to school. Because I was fiercely independent, I always jumped out and ran into the school by myself, never looking back.

    The year I was three, I got a maid’s outfit for Christmas which included an apron, a hat and all the tools of the trade. One day I decided that I should like to wear the maid’s outfit to school.  Dad put his foot down on that one.  I threw a fit, but he stood firm and sent me back to my room to change. That was one of the few times in my life that my dad has said no to me.

    Everyday before getting in the car to go to school, dad would make some clumsy attempt to make my course thick dry frizzy bad hair presentable.  He never succeeded, but he will certainly get a star in his crown for trying.

    Jeannie S. wore a leg brace. Her parents owned a gas station.  Billy R. had braces on both legs and some sort of medical problem and my mom would have long telephone chats with his mom.  Brian M. had a spot on the middle of his nose and it was terribly cute.  Laura G. wasn’t quite right and was known to bite.  Rhonda D. used to roll up on her back during nap time and pull her panties down to her knees and then pull them back up as she rolled back  — another thing that would have never occurred to me to do.  There was so many new things to learn at school.   Cassie B. was the cutest girl in the whole class. She was also the cutest girl in high school.

    One day, towards the end of the school year, my mom let me walk the 3/4  mile home with Jerry.  I don’t know if one of the moms followed us at a discreet distance, but not in ten million years would I let my 5-year-old walk a mile home down a busy road. Not in twenty million years.  It was a different time.

    After graduating kindergarten, 13 of us went on to Catholic grade school together through 8th grade and then we joined up again with most of the rest of the class in high school.

    I still get together with Jerry and some of the other “kids” every couple of years and have dinner and wax nostalgic.  There’s something kind of cool about getting together with  people who share a history, people who are rooted in the same soil.

    Sean is a lot like me. He compliant, forgets nothing and loves to play grocery store. In a week, he’ll begin making his own kindergarten memories and he’ll meet people with whom he’ll share a certain history.

    And maybe if he’s really lucky, when he’s my age, he’ll still be connected to a few folks who occupied the same sweet kindergarten time and space.

    So Small

    August 29, 2009

    Antique Daddy and I have been saying bedtime prayers with Sean since the day we brought him home from the hospital.  It’s our routine. It’s what we do.

    Those early prayers were often desperate pleas for help and grace and mercy.  We had no idea what to do with a four-pound baby.  We were terrified.  We felt so very small in the bigness of the task we had been given.  We felt as though we had been sent out to fish the Bering Sea in a row boat.

    The other night as I settled Sean for bed, I pressed shut the book I had been reading to him and set it aside. I knelt beside his bed and asked him if he would like to lead the bedtime prayer.  Sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t.

    This time he turned his head to the wall and didn’t respond.

    “Sean?” I asked again,  “Will you say the prayer tonight?”

    After a long pause, he turned towards me.  His eyes were shiny with tears.

    “I don’t want to,” he said, his voice quivering.

    That was unusual.

    “Why not?” I asked, concerned. “Is something wrong?”

    “I’m scared,” he said quietly.

    “Scared?”

    “Yes,” he whispered. “I just feel so… small.”

    A big tear rolled down his cheek onto the pillow.

    I sighed.  He gets its.  In the shadow of our mighty God, we are indeed so small.

    I leaned over him in his tiny bed and blanketed him in a hug.  I prayed over him and thanked God for my wise little boy.

    I prayed that he might always view his God through the lens of humility and awe; I prayed that he might always feel so small.

    Advanced Grocery Shopping

    August 27, 2009

    Sean has not started school yet, and won’t until after Labor Day, but it seems that everyone else has. Consequently I’ve been promoted to most favored playmate status, which is all kinds of wonderful but leaves little time for other things, like attending to this blog.  So here’s a re-run from way back in August of 2005, one of my first posts.

    * * * * *

    The earth is inhabited by two kinds of people: Those who love to go to the grocery store and then the other 98% of the population — those who have a life.

    Until Sean came along, I was among the 2% who rank a trip to the grocery store right up there with a day at Six Flags. Lately, however, going to the store is more like going to a friend’s Tupperware party — you are obligated to go, you’re looking for the cheapest thing to buy and you hope you don’t have to go again for a long time.

    Once upon a time, my weekly visit to the store was a serendipitous adventure. Tom Thumb was my boyfriend. I couldn’t wait to see him. It was exciting to think about what new and exotic fruit or vegetable or gourmet item he might have for me.  Would it be tomatillos, star fruit or imported olives?

    I would spend hours going systematically up and down the aisles looking at all the different items and thinking about what fabulous dishes I might prepare.   Even though my household consisted only of my husband and me, the boy bagging the groceries once asked me how many children I had to feed. Unfortunately, for him, he asked this question too soon after a failed fertility treatment. I burst into tears. He tried to become invisible, and in fact, he was never seen again.

    Now that I have a kiddo, I’ve quit seeing Tom. Sam is my new guy. If Tom Thumb is Omar Sharif, Wal-Mart is Al Bundy – convenient, cheap, annoying.

    The truth is, I have a love-hate relationship with Wal-Mart. I hate how they dominate the retail landscape. I hate how they wipe out the small mom-and-pop businesses when they come to town. I love that they are a block away and sell formula and diapers for less than anyone else in town. And most of all, I love the entertaining study in humanity that is Wal-Mart — almost as good as the airport, only with more local flavor.

    Aside from where I shop, how I shop has changed as well. Where shopping once was a leisurely exercise, like golf only with more physical and mental exertion, it’s now a study in ergonomics and economy of motion. The goal of every trip is to maximize the shopping that needs to be done within the time restraints of my toddler’s disposition on any given day. No wasted motion, no wasted effort, no wasted time. Not even a second glance towards the beloved olives.

    I remember how, in my previous life, I used to see women in Nike’s, running through the store like spooked race horses, pushing carts laden with children and macaroni and cheese, taking corners on two wheels. And I would think to myself: “They should really slow down and stop and smell the cilantro — life is short.”  What I didn’t know, until now, is that no one with a toddler buys cilantro and yes, life is short, but a toddler’s cart-tolerance is even shorter and death is only a slightly less attractive an option than a toddler melt-down.

    Before Sean came along, there were no daily emergency trips to the grocery store. I consulted my cookbooks, I made a list, I pressed my clothes. If I were out of, say, anchovies, it could wait until next week. These days, it seems that I am at Wal-Mart just about every day for some emergency item, like chocolate. I realized this recently when the greeter, who knows me by name, calls to me as I’m pushing my over-the-legal-weight-limit cart out the door. “Nice Nike’s,” he says with a knowing look and a wink, “See ‘ya tomorrow.”

    I felt so cheap and tawdry! As if no other grocery store would have me! Tom wants me back you know. He still sends me coupons….

    No Pearls

    August 24, 2009

    If there is any possible way to offend someone, I can do it, and usually in record time. I am gifted that way.

    Several years ago, I was helping my mother-in-law in her boutique in downtown Tuna, and a mature lady came in with her slightly less mature sister.  The younger sister was looking for a dress to wear to a wedding. They were both simply dressed, wore their hair styled in a bun and no make-up.  I thought nothing of it because that’s kind of how I look in Wal-Mart on any given day.

    I showed them a dress that I thought the younger sister would like. It was pretty, but kind of plain. I suggested that she could put some pearls with it to dress it up because that is exactly what I would do.

    “NO pearls!” the older sister barked at me.  I took a step back, puzzled at her reaction.   “No pearls?” I asked.  Certainly she had misunderstood. What’s not to like about pearls?  So I tried to clarify, and apparently the way I do it, it only clarifies the fact that I’m a bumbling idiot.

    “Pearls would be great!” I enthused.  “Pearls go with everything, pearls are classic….” and on and on I went about pearls.  “No! Pearls!” she hissed. And then she stomped out of the store with her sister trailing behind her.

    After they left, I told Cleo about how upset the lady was that I mentioned pearls.  Cleo laughed. She had seen the whole scene unfold and then went to hide out in a dressing room.

    She told me that they were a stripe of Christian who believe women shouldn’t wear jewelry.  Well how was I supposed to know that?  I had no idea how Cleo knew that just by looking at them.  Oddly enough, although I can’t see what will set someone off just by looking at them, I can tap into it within seconds.

    I lost the sale, but I did expand my list of things not to say to people under any circumstances:

    “Oh! When are you due?”

    “What a darling little grandchild you have!”

    “How ‘bout some pearls!?”

    The Bride Lady

    August 20, 2009

    Back in the late 70s, after I graduated from high school, I worked for an insurance company whose offices are on the edge of a small historical downtown area.

    The particular building that I worked in occupied one city block and was six stories tall, and having been built in the post-modern era, it had windows all the way around, top to bottom, which meant you could see all there was to see. Which wasn’t a whole lot.

    However, on most days you could look out the windows and see a middle-aged woman wearing a tattered wedding dress hurrying down the sidewalk.  She always walked briskly and with purpose as though she were late for her own wedding, her long dingy veil trailing behind her, floating in the wake of her own pungent breeze.  It was a haunting image, and oddly beautiful in a bizarre sort of way, and one that remains vivid in my mind almost 30 years later.

    She was known among those who worked in the building as The Bride Lady.  Everyone had seen The Bride Lady from the windows but no one seemed to know anything about her, what her name was, where she lived or how she became a perpetual bride.

    In all the years I worked in that building and walked in and out and around that building, I never once encountered her face to face. Like a ghost, she just sort of seemed to appear on one end of the sidewalk in a cloud of wedding finery and then seconds later, disappear at the other end. I never saw her anywhere else but from the windows of that building.

    I have not thought of The Bride Lady for a long time, but today as I was driving, I saw a dirty and fraying piece of delicate fabric that had caught on a fence post. It was captivating the way it would lift and waltz in the breeze and then suddenly go limp and rest when the wind disappeared.  There was something about the way the fraying fabric floated and fluttered in the breeze that made me think of The Bride Lady and her veil.

    From six stories up, I was afforded the luxury of participating in her fantastical reality without the burden of confronting her humanity.  From where I stood I did not have to consider that she had unmet needs or a name and a mother — I could simply enjoy the romantic and somewhat comedic notion of a bride speed walking to her wedding.

    From six stories up, she wasn’t crazy and homeless, missing teeth and sharply aromatic.

    From six stories up, she was a beautiful bride in a hurry to meet her groom.

    I often wonder what ever happened to The Bride Lady, if maybe somehow in her fantastical crazy world, she did live happily ever after.

    Or maybe that only happens six stories up.

    Lick The Bowl

    August 17, 2009

    Yesterday morning, Sean decided that we should make muffins for breakfast.  I told him I thought that was a great idea and that he should do that; he should make us some muffins.

    Sean has been my sous chef since he was old enough to stand upright on his own.  I love having him in the kitchen with me. It always seemed easier to me to give him something to stir or maul with a dull knife than to run him off or park him in front of the TV.  Sure,  early on it was a bit of trouble and mess, but now it’s paying dividends. He’s grown into a good helper in the kitchen and cooking is what we do together.

    So yesterday morning, I got a package of muffin mix out of the pantry while he grabbed a mixing bowl and a big spoon and climbed up on his stool to reach the counter.  I handed him the mix and the half cup of milk that the package called for and told him to go to town, let there be muffins.  I pre-heated the oven while he mixed it all up satisfactorily and filled the muffin tins.  I popped it all in the oven and then we waited.

    While we were waiting he asked me if he could lick the bowl.  Since no raw eggs were involved, I didn’t see why not, so I said sure, lick the bowl.

    I sat down at my desk in the kitchen to check my email and when I turned to check the timer on the oven, I saw a skinny little pajama-clad boy standing on a stool in my kitchen with his entire head in the bowl.  He was licking the bowl.  I guess I sort of assumed that he would lick the bowl with his fingers or the spoon, but instead he opted for the more direct route.

    “Dude!” I laughed, “What are you doing?”

    When he pulled the bowl away from his face, he had muffin mix on his chin, on his nose, across his forehead and in his hair.

    “What?” he asked. “I’m licking the bowl!”

    I couldn’t think of one thing to say, so I just looked at him and tried to memorize the image of my boy chef with muffin mix on his face and in his hair.

    And I thought, if I could capture these golden delicious days, I’d put them in a bowl and then I’d stick my head in and lick it clean.

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    Cooking at Cousin Judy’s in 2007

    The Internet Is Awesome

    August 16, 2009

    Friday night I drove far far far FAR away from my home to have dinner with Screwed Up Texan and Amy who writes Living Locurto.

    I had never met either of them before, but chances are, if you read someone’s blog, you probably know more about them than people who really know them know about them — it’s just that you’ve never actually met them.  Diagram that sentence, I dare you.

    Anyway, we had a delightful time sharing stories and chatting about all things blogging and everything else.  We discovered that we are all three artists and photographers, share a similar world view and we all three have children about the same age.

    I also thought it was interesting that if you round up a smidge, we are all just about 10 years apart –  30, 40 and 50 — interesting but insignificant.  That’s what I love about the internet — it neutralizes the usual barriers like age, race, region, religion, economics, education and all the other silly ways in which we divide ourselves.

    I’ve done a number of blogger meet-ups in my four years of blogging and I always come away feeling like I’ve found some long lost members of my tribe, that I’ve found people who understand why I do what I do.  Some of those gals whom I’ve met through blogging, and you know who you are — they  are some of my best buds. I know I can count on them.

    I think that is just an amazingly cool thing, to connect with awesome people whose path you would never cross in real life.

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    Screwed Up, Loco Locurto and Crazy Old Lady

    I was glad when I uploaded the pictures and discovered they were actually blurry and it wasn’t just that one itty bitty glass of wine I had with dinner.

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    This is what photographers do when they go to dinner.

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    Aren’t they cute? Go read their blogs.

    Fire Ants Are Of The Devil

    August 15, 2009

    God made all the animals. It says so right in the Bible. But I’m convinced that fire ants are of the devil.

    I say this because fire ants are so vile and so wretched and seem to be born to pour out misery upon humanity.  And also I say this because of the many similarities between fire ants and sin. And also because I thought it would make a clever little post.

    Now I did not grow up with fire ants. I grew up in the mid-west where the icy anesthesia of winter calls the earth and everything within it into a long and deep frozen sleep.  And for some, like the cockroach, the long  cold mid-western winter brings death. (insert applause)

    But. The Texas winter is more of a power nap. After a short nap, the fire ants wake up refreshed and energized and after a few stretches and push-ups, they are ready to destroy happiness and all living things.

    Now, how are fire ants like sin? Well I’ll tell you.

    For one thing, like sin, fire ants are ubiquitous.  In Texas at least, they are everywhere, all the time, and one must never let one’s guard down. In Texas and in life, one must always be aware of where one is standing.

    As well, like sin, fire ants are opportunistic.

    For example, right at this very moment, just below the surface of my lush and spongy green St. Augustine grass, are likely a number of fire ant mounds, invisible to the naked eye. Just below the surface is a menacing mob of fire ants, rubbing their six tiny hands together in anticipation and cackling with glee, just waiting for some unsuspecting tender flesh to happen by.  And in Texas, it eventually happens. Sooner or later you will find yourself standing unawares in a pile of fire ants.

    And because fire ants are the spawn of the devil, they are sneaky and surreptitious.  An entire army of ants will silently tip toe up your leg in stealth mode and at the appointed time, the ant commander will give the signal to BITE! And all at once, all of the little bastards will joyfully chomp down on your ankles and that very very tender space between your toes. And you will scream in pain. And maybe even cuss.

    And it’s not just the fiery sting of the bite that issues agony.  Some sort of substance in the bite sends a nausea-inducing, bone chilling current of electricity, pulsing and snapping up and down your spine and out your eyebrows.

    And like a wiener dog, once a fire ant bites, it will not let go until it dies.  Many people do not know this, but the fire ant was the model for the modern day invention we all know as The Jaws of Life. It’s true. No it’s not. I just made that up.  Everyone knows the wiener dog was the model for The Jaws of Life.

    Anyway, like sin, fire ants always leave an ugly calling card.  After a fire ant bites, he leaves behind a tiny, hard, painful puss-filled, hateful blister. And there is nothing you can do about it but cry just a little and poke at the blister and maybe show other Texans hoping for some sympathy.

    And finally, so that I might take an analogy just one step too far, as I like to do — like sin, there is nothing to be done about fire ants. Oh sure you can try this and that and for awhile it might even work.  But not for long.

    Sin and fire ants.  Man can master neither – for very long.

    The Confliction Of Five

    August 14, 2009

    As of late, Sean has been trying to convince me that he is over being a baby, that being a baby is so yesterday, that he has moved on, that he has joined the ranks of the big boys.

    But like a politician, his actions don’t always line up with his words.

    The other day as we were leaving the house for a play date, he ran back to his bedroom and grabbed Mr. Monkey to take with him in the car. As we are walking towards the garage, I notice his grimy little boy fingers, set to automatic, busily working and petting Mr. Monkey’s muzzle.  Mr. Monkey used to have a nose and a mouth. But they have long since been loved off.

    His fingers are long and delicate and even pretty.  I remember how I marveled at them, the first time I saw them, how fragile and breakable they felt in my hand, how they moved as though powered by batteries. I was fascinated by his fingernails, miniature and as fine as tissue paper.  The thought of trimming those itty bitty fingernails terrified me.

    I still marvel at those fingers although now they are scraped up and have a good amount of dirt under the nails which need to be trimmed.  Even so, they are still long and delicate, and even pretty.

    As we walked towards the car, I watched him out of the corner of my eye, his fingers methodically twitching over Mr. Monkey’s muzzle. I wondered if he was feeling anxious about the play date.  Then he turned to me and said, “Mom, I don’t care for cartoons anymore. Those are for babies. I prefer real shows with real people, like The Food Network and Survivor Man.”

    “Oh really?” I said more than asked.

    I was struck by the composition, the stark contrast between the boy clutching Mr. Monkey and the same boy telling me he has moved beyond childish cartoons.

    He is conflicted.  He is a boy wobbling and balancing on a high wire between two worlds.  On one side of the wire is a soft and sweet and safe place, where all the anxiety and ills of life can be soothed by a fraying and well loved monkey. On the other side is a not safe and not soft world that calls to him to come taste new and exciting things.  And he is conflicted. He wants to live in both worlds.

    I’m conflicted. I want him to live in both worlds.  And daily we swing wildly between the two.

    The Bank

    August 12, 2009

    When I woke up the other day, there were no obvious indicators that the banking industry had it in for me. So I got out of bed.

    After breakfast, Sean and I set out on a few errands.  Our first stop was the bank.  I very seldom go to the bank any more, but I had a check that needed to be deposited and it was easier to zip through the drive through lane as we were out and about, rather than mailing it.  Or so I thought.

    I pulled into the drive-through and prided myself that I had managed to pull close enough to the “tube thing” to reach it.  It seems that most of the time, I position the car too far away and then I have to unfasten my seatbelt, raise myself up just so and then hang out the window to grab the tube. And then do it all again to put the tube back in and send it away. And then do it a third time to retrieve the contents of the tube. And then a fourth time to put the tube back in place for the next banking customer.  Banking yoga – it works the glutes, quads, triceps and stretching; develops that inner core strength we all need.

    So I easily reach out my car window and grab the tube.  I give the teller a little knowing wink and nod because even though I can’t see her, I can tell by the way she said “goodmorninghowareyou” that she is in awe of my pulling up to the tube thing skills.

    I set the tube in my lap, twist off the top, tuck in my check and deposit slip, easily slip it back into its alcove and send it on its way.  The teller does her thing and in minutes, the tube has returned.  I reach out to welcome the tube back. The window magically slides open and I grab the tube.  But the tube slips from my hand.  It bounces one time and then rolls onto the ground where it wobbles back and forth for a second before deciding to make a run for it.  And then it rolls out of sight and under the car.

    But because I have with such great care and expertise pulled up so close to the “tube thing” — I can’t open my car door to see where it went.

    Being an expert at Banking Yoga, I unfasten my seatbelt and lean out the window to see what I can see.

    The tube has rolled under the car and is resting behind the front tire.

    No problem.  I will pull forward a little, jump out and get the tube.  But every time I pull forward, the little tube pulls forward.  I can’t go backwards because not only would that crush the tube, but I would have to some how get a message to the car behind me to back up and I happened to have left my bullhorn at home.

    Now, it is on occasions such as this, that having a five-year-old in the backseat  is immensely helpful. It is immensely helpful when one is busy humiliating oneself in front of strangers to have a five-year-old in the back seat asking repeatedly, “Mommy what are you doing? Mommy why did you throw the tube on the ground? Mommy, what’s happening?”

    The teller, being the alert banking professional that she is, notices that something has gone awry.  She gets on the loud speaker (aptly named because it can be heard in three counties) to inquire.  “Ma’am, are you having a problem?” she blasts.

    Unfortunately, in my attempt to retrieve the tube, I’ve moved my car far enough ahead that I now have to roll down and shout out of my back window.  “Um, yes, I guess you could say that,” I holler in confession to her and all the other drive through banking customers.

    “I seem to have dropped the tube and now it’s under my car and I can’t get it because I can’t get out of the car and I can’t back up and I can’t go forward, which is the story of my life, and I have a five-year-old in the back and he doesn’t understand and I’m on the last day of my estrogen patch and I’m having trouble and the tube… ITS ON THE GROUND and I’m trapped in my car!”

    “Okay, ma’am, wait right there, don’t go anywhere,” she says, even though I felt I had made it clear I couldn’t go anywhere and that was exactly the problem.

    Like the fairy Godmother in Cinderella minus the wand, the teller magically appears in a vapor of sparkles.  She reaches under the car and retrieves the tube. She hands me the tube without berating me. I grab my deposit slip and hand the tube back.  I smile.  I thank her. I apologize. I thank her.  She smiles, but without teeth.  A no-teeth smile tells me that she woke up this morning hoping not to have to reach under someone’s car for the teller tube.  She is polite. She does not laugh or say “What an idiot!” Out loud.  She is a professional. I thank her again. And apologize.

    As I drive away, I look down at my white Capri pants and there is a giant circle of ink on the zipper, right in the place where you wouldn’t want a giant  circle of ink. A target, as it were.

    In the shape of a teller tube.