Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Orient Express

I have always loved trains.

My mother used to take us to Oklahoma City every year on the train. We always had a compartment which may sound like a luxury, but with 3 (and later 4) children, it really wasn't.

I remember the dining cars, which in the early 1950's were actually very elegant. White linens on the tables along with gleaming real silver and crystal. We would usually have dinner and lunch in the dining cars. Breakfast was brought to us by an attendant. I thought it was very "posh", or as my 7 year old self would have said, "fancy".

Later, as an adult, I was married for a time to an oil company executive who was in charge of transportation for the company. We were hosted by the Santa Fe railroad to take a trip from Oakland to Reno in the private car of the railroad's president. It was an amazing trip. I was very surprised at the luxury of it. Pressing a buzzer when I wanted something (a drink, a glass of water, ) from the serving person was something very foreign to me and not entirely compatible with my middle class upbringing.

A wonderful sumptuous luncheon was served in the dining area. How just two people turned out such a lovely meal out of such a small place boggled my mind.

Ever since I was young, I had always wanted to take a trip on the Orient Express. I was sure that would happen one day and I would be going from Istanbul to Paris on that train. Alas, it did not happen and now it's too late.

But at least I got to see the movie "Murder on the Orient Express". That was better than nothing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fix The Flaws - Not So Fast

We all seem to see what we consider our "flaws" very clearly.

Whether it's a bump on the nose, or small breasts, or crooked teeth, or cowlicks, we are all very well aware of them. I think women may feel a little more self conscious about perceived flaws but I don't really know for sure. Men seem to be less pushed toward perfection than women.

I have a bump on my nose and slightly crooked teeth. But then I'm so arrogant, I think I look fine even with my flaws. I've always been inclined to give greater credence to my assets than my flaws. Oh, except one thing.

When I was a child, I had about two years in bed because of illness. I had rheumatic fever followed by mumps encephalitis. I had a home teacher during the period that I was laid up and frankly, life was fine. Sure I missed playing outside, but I was able to spend my time reading and everyone treated me like a little princess. Yeah, a sick princess, but still, it wasn't bad.

The only thing that I had as a lasting effect after the illnesses was a bad stutter. The doctors thought it could be related to the encephalitis but they weren't sure. My mother was horrified and took me to speech classes immediately. Unfortunately, that didn't "cure" me. Mom also talked about taking me to Lourdes to see if I could be cured, but it really wasn't in her budget. (And I was really hesitant about getting in dirty water so it was really just as well.)

So I went to the third grade and realized that answering questions in the classroom was not to my liking because it invited ridicule. At that point I began just playing stupid about answers, by shaking my head to indicate that I just didn't know. I'd rather have the nuns and kids think I was a dummy than to advertise my "impairment".

I did fine in school except for my lack of communication skills in the classroom. Fortunately, my written skills were good enough that I still got very good grades.

I can honestly say that as a child I did feel "handicapped" by stuttering, (well, until I reached about 13, anyway). By the time I was in my teens, I realized that the boys really didn't care if I stuttered at all. They were too busy being charmed with my boobs and legs.

I still stutter but not much. Many years ago, I overheard a boss talking about me to someone. He was telling the person that I was very smart, very capable, and that I had the "most charming little stutter". That cemented it for me. I was just fine as is. No fixes required.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I'm Just A Girl Who Can't Say No

I find many things hard to resist.

I have purchased a complete Encyclopedia, a Kirby vacuum cleaner, and even almost signed up to become Mormon.

All somebody has to do is to come to my door and if I'm home, I'll probably buy what they are selling.

The Kirby vacuum was a major deal. I was 19 and just married and the guy came to shampoo one room of our apartment "free of charge" just to let us see the Kirby vacuum. I think the Kirby weighed more than I did at that point. You could use it as a vacuum, but you could also flock your Christmas tree with it, and paint too if you wished. The Kirby handle was shaped like a dildo and had a very strong vibration too. (The salesman didn't point that out to me, I figured that out on my own.)

The fact that the Kirby cost about $1,000 did not phase me in the slightest. What's money compared to having a really clean apartment to live in! Plus, flocking a Christmas tree could be really fun.

My husband John was not so much delighted with our new vacuum as I though he would be. To say he nearly shit is putting it mildly. (Never mind, we weren't going to be married that long anyway. Plus, I got to keep the vacuum.)

When my son was born I bought a family album plan. We got one ugly professional photo per month for the first 12 months of my son's life. Then we got an ugly photo of all of us once every three months for the next year. After that, we got a semi-annual photo, all for a very reasonable price. Yeah, right. Of course, we got maybe two ugly photos and decided to cut our losses, but we were on a contract. Damn!

When those two adorable young men, all dressed up in their suits and ties knocked at my door, I took one look at their fresh handsome faces and thought "This is my lucky day!" Seems they were missionaries for the Latter Day Saints. Of course I invited them in and offered them refreshments. We talked all afternoon and they wanted to come back the following week. Oh they were cute! I just didn't have the heart to tell them that I was a pagan. So it took about 3 visits before they realized I was not being converted after all. Pity! I liked having them visit me.

I also had a milkman named Joe that I ordered our dairy products from. I loved Joe and gave him coffee twice a week when he filled my huge order. I loved ordering things from him even if we didn't need them.

The Fuller Brush man was another frequent visitor, as was the Avon Lady. Thank goodness I got past all that. Now I just don't open the door. It's safer that way.