Friday, May 31, 2013

Friends for Life

If you've ever been to a class reunion, you know that people have long memories - especially about anything pertaining to themselves. Always remember that these are people who probably knew you during your most awkward time, so don't forget to apologize for anything you might have done that may have caused them grief.
Photo courtesy of Greyerbaby/Morguefile.com

Here are some tips for great friendships that can last a lifetime:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Happy My Bucket's Got a Hole in It Day!

Yep, today's the day. It's National My Bucket's Got a Hole in It Day. I'm not sure what that means, but I'm pretty sure it can be different for everyone.

Here's how the people in the Class Reunion series will see it:

  • Priscilla - Her townhouse floods, her assistant misses important calls, and the reunion committee chairperson gives her menial tasks that a monkey can do.
  • Tim - Priscilla isn't in the office when he stops by, so he waits. And waits. And waits. When she finally arrives, she brushes past him, barely even noticing his existence, and tells her assistant she'll be out for the rest of the day. Then she leaves. Without him.
  • Trudy - She barely eats enough to keep a bird alive, but when she tries to get into last year's jeans, she can't get them past her thighs.
  • Celeste - She has spent all day at Prissy's Cut 'n Curl, and no one notices that she had her brows done.
  • Laura - Her husband Pete has had one beer too many, and now he's passed out on the couch, leaving her to get the young'uns ready for bed, and her night still isn't over because she has to finish making the cards for the class reunion because no one else has offered to do it.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Makeup Tips

I've heard Carmindy from "What Not to Wear" tell many women that makeup should be used to enhance a woman's natural beauty, not cover everything up. I agree with that. Everyone has some feature that can be showcased.

Most of us aren't born with the skills we need to show off our features, so I recommend studying tips and asking professionals for help. You can view this YouTube tutorial for a 5-minute face: Makeup Tips.

Here are more tips that will help you look your very best:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fabulous Hair

In honor of my Class Reunion series and my main character Priscilla's profession, I'd like to discuss hair. I don't know anyone who doesn't want great hair, but sometimes it's difficult to know how to get it. With everyone's face having a different shape, I thought I'd search for some helpful hints.
Photo courtesy of EmmiP/Morguefile.com

Here's what I found on choosing a hairstyle:



Regardless of what hairstyle you have, you need to take care of your locks. Follow these tips: Hair Care.

And remember that if you can't do a thing with the hair that grows on your head, you can always add extensions.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Before the Class Reunion - Laura Moss


5
Laura Moss

I let out a low growl. Not a one of the folks from our class has accepted the invitation I went to so much trouble to send out. Not that I want to see any of ‘em. I really don’t. It’s just that as class vice-president, I feel like I’ve failed at my job.
            “Laura, hon, can you come in here?” Pete hollers from the livin’ room. “Bonnie Sue just spit up all over me.”
            I blow out a breath of exasperation as I pick up the cloth diaper I tried to hand him when he volunteered to give our youngest her bottle. He said he didn’t need it. “I have a technique,” he told me.
            Some technique. When I walk in and see him tryin’ to balance our nine month old, her bottle, and his beer, I want to scream. I never touched a drop of alcohol, so what was I thinkin’ when I married the biggest alchie I know?
            I pick up Bonnie Sue and rest her on my hip that’s ever expandin’ with this pregnancy—my fourth. She grins and gurgles, and my heart goes all melty on me.
            Pete stretches out his arms. “Here, give her to me. I got this now.”
            “No you don’t.” I pull her closer until she lets out a little squeal.
            “You’re squeezin’ her so hard, you’re makin’ her sound like squeaky toy.”
            Renee toddles into the room pulling her blanket along behind her. “Renee,” I say. “That thing is so dirty. Let me toss it in the washing machine with a load of towels.”  
            She scowls at me and hugs her blanket. “No. My binkie.”
            I ponder taking it away from her, but I don’t think I can handle her screamin’, so I turn back to my husband. “Where’s Bubba?”
            He bobs his head and gives me a look like I done lost my mind. “What do you think I am, Superman? I’m feedin’ Bonnie Sue. How do you expect me to do that and know where Bubba is?”
            Mama was right when she said men can’t handle more than one thing at a time. It takes a woman to know how to juggle a houseful of young’uns and everything else that goes on around ‘em.
            Pete puts down his beer and grabs Renee as she toddles past him again. “Where’s your big brother?”
            “Never mind,” I say. “I’m sure he’s upstairs. I’ll go get him.”
            When I arrive at the upstairs landing, I see his backside in the bathroom. Naked.
            “Bubba, just what do you think you’re doing, young man?”
            He turns around and gives me one of his wide-eyed looks. “Pee-pee potty.”
            Holding my breath, I approach the doorway, knowing what I’m about to see won’t be a pretty sight. My knees buckle as I realize just how bad it is. My son has obviously been taking target practice at every single fixture in the bathroom.
            “Bubba, finish up in the potty. We’re going downstairs so I can fix supper.”
            He steps up on the little stool we’ve put in the kids’ bathroom and finishes his job. “Potty, Mama.”
            “Good boy.” I look around and sigh. Maybe I can steal a few minutes after supper to come back up here and clean up.
            I hear the phone ringing, but I don’t even bother trying to answer it. No one ever calls for me…at least not until recently, after the reunion invitations went out. It’s probably someone calling with regrets anyway.
            When Bubba and I get back downstairs, I hear Pete sayin’, “A swig for you…” He lifts the bottle to Bonnie Sue’s mouth with the hand he’s holdin’ her with and lifts his beer with the other. “And a swig for me.”
            I groan. This is not the life I thought I’d have.

* * *
By the end of the week, we have twenty-eight regrets and three acceptances. “I’ll call ‘em back and let ‘em know there won’t be a reunion,” I tell Pete.
            “You’ll do no such thing. There’s no point in punishing the ones who wanna go to the reunion just because everyone else is a party pooper.”
            “All three of ‘em are your friends. Why don’t you just do somethin’ with them? I’m not decoratin’ the gym just for you and three other guys.”
            He leans over and kisses me on the cheek. “Good idea, hon. You’re the best.”
            I live for times like this. Pete is sober and loving. The kids are all taking a nap. I’m over my preggers puking.
            “I think it’s a little soon to start havin’ reunions,” Pete says. “I bet wild horses won’t be able to keep everyone away from the tenth.”
            “Someone else is gonna have to be in charge of that one. I’m not goin’ through all this again.”
            Pete smiles. “You know you will, hon. You’re always there when people need you.”
            “Maybe that’ll just have to change.”
            I start to go fix us a snack, but Pete pulls me to his chest and stretches his arms around me. “I like it when you’re all soft and squishy,” he whispers in my ear.
            Any other guy sayin’ that, and I’d smack him. But Pete likes my womanly curves, and he doesn’t hesitate to tell me.
            He cups my chin in his hand and tilts my face up. “Things will get easier soon,” he says softly.
            I know he means well, but after havin’ three babies, I know what I’m in for as soon as the new one arrives. “Maybe you should get snipped after the baby comes.”
            Pete’s face turns a scary shade of pale, and he starts coughing and sputtering. “I don’t know, Laura. That’s an awful drastic thing to do. What if you decide later that you want more young’uns?”
            “We only planned to have two, remember? We’ve already doubled that.”
            He recovers, and his expression softens. “And I can have four more if they’re all as wonderful as their mama.”
            If there was ever any doubt why I married Pete, it vanishes in an instant. My heart pounds with love for this man who might be a lush, but he’s my lush. And maybe one of these days I’ll be able to fix him.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Before the Class Reunion - Celeste Boudreaux


4
Celeste Boudreaux

Get them bony elbows off the table, Celeste. You gotta have some manners, girl.”
            I hate when Mama talks to me like that, but I can’t do a thing about it. I pull my hands into my lap and look down at the table.
            “Look me in the eye when I’m talkin’ to you.” Mama shakes her head. “I don’t know how you turned out so mousy. Folks will never take you seriously if you don’t sit up straight and look at ‘em.”
            “Okay, Mama, I’ll try to do better.” I speak through gritted teeth as I force myself to be polite to Mama.
            “I gotta run to the store. When I come back, I expect to see every single dish put away and the cabinets wiped down.” She glares at me. “Do you hear me?”
            “Yes, Mama, I hear you.”
            As soon as I hear the door close behind her, I clean the kitchen and then head straight to my bedroom where my suitcase is packed and waitin’ for me. I’ve been plannin’ on runnin’ away since I was six, and now that I’m twenty-three, I reckon it’s time to finally do it.
            Over the past month, I’ve been lookin’ at apartments in Hattiesburg, tryin’ to find one that’s furnished that I can afford. It wasn’t easy on account of Hattiesburg bein’ such a big city and all. But I couldn’t very well look in Piney Point ‘cause everyone in town knows Mama, and sure as shootin’, word would get back to her.
            I sit down at the kitchen table and write Mama a note lettin’ her know that I won’t be back. As I’m slidin’ it under the saltshaker, I see a small envelope addressed to me. Mama must have brought it in ‘cause I didn’t see it until now.
            My fingers are so long and skinny, I can’t even look at ‘em as I rip open the envelope. Once it’s open, I pull out the card.
            It’s an invitation to my class’s five-year reunion. That’s a joke. Why anyone would ever want to go back to that kind of humiliation, I can’t even imagine. High school was one of the worst times of my life—right up there with middle school, nursing assistant school, and livin’ with Mama.
            I shove the invitation into my oversized handbag that I bought at the thrift store and head on out to my car. I take one last look at the house where I grew up before sliding into my clunker. If I ever come back to this place, it’ll be as a guest and never to live here. And as I back out of the driveway, I don’t have a bit of regret. I might be ugly, bony, and socially awkward, but I still have feelings. The only way to get away from constant humiliation is to live on my own.
            The landlord handed me the keys to the front door and mailbox when I stopped by on the way to Mama’s house from my private duty nursin’ job last night. He also handed me a list of what I’m not allowed to do.
            “We keep a close eye on folks around here,” he warned me, his eyes narrowin’ to itty bitty beady slits. “’Specially when they first move in. We don’t tolerate noise after eight, and you can’t have a bunch of rowdy parties, except on Friday and Saturday nights.”
            “I hate to disappoint you, but I don’t have rowdy parties ever.” I’m tryin’ to be funny, but he don’t laugh.
            My stomach feels mighty queasy as I pull into my new apartment parkin’ lot. There are other beat-up old cars around me, so I feel right at home.
            The apartment ain’t all that nice, but it’s clean and furnished. I still have to go pick up some dishes somewhere, but since I’m not all that hungry at the moment, I don’t bother.
            I sit down on the sofa to watch some TV. That’s when I realize that when they say furnished, they only mean bare minimum furniture. Looks like I’ll have to get a TV. I have a small savings account, but it won’t last long if I keep burnin’ through it. Maybe I can do without TV for a few weeks, until I can save a little bit of money from my next couple of paychecks.
            I pull out my cell phone and make the dreaded call to Laura, letting her know I won’t be able to make it to the reunion. I hate lying, so I decide to leave it at that and not make up any excuses. If she presses, I’ll just beat around the bush about how busy I am, and maybe she’ll give up.
            Her voicemail kicks in, so I’m off the hook. I simply say I won’t be there and hang up.
            Two hours later my cell phone rings. It’s Mama. I’m tempted not to take it, but I figure I might as well get this over with.
            “Hey, Mama, I know I should have told—”
            “It’s about time you did this,” she said, interrupting me. “I’ve been throwing hints out ever since you got out of high school. So where is your new place?”
            She’s caught me so off-guard, I’m speechless for a few seconds. “Um, in Hattiesburg.”
            “That doesn’t tell me much. Hattiesburg is a big place. Tell me exactly where you are so I can come help get your place all fixed up. Is there anything from here you need?”
            I look at the empty space across from me. “I could use a TV.”
            “We’ve got that old one in the guest room. If you want it, you can have it.”
            The TV she’s talking about is at least fifteen years old and about twice as deep as the screen is tall. But it’s better’n nothing.
            “That would be nice.”
            “Do you need sheets? I’m assuming you got yourself a furnished apartment.”
            “Yes, sheets would be nice too.”
            “Celeste, you should’ve said somethin’ to me before you left. Now get on back here right now, and I can load up your car with stuff you’ll need.”
            I go back out to my car to pick up the stuff Mama promises she’ll have waitin’ for me. As I drive, I go back and forth between elation and frettin’ over the fact that Mama is so happy to be rid of me.




Thursday, May 9, 2013

Before the Class Reunion - Tim Puckett


3
Tim Puckett
(Didn't graduate from Piney Point High School)

I’ve been on the five-year college plan, and now it’s time for me to accept my piece of paper to show for all those expensive college classes Uncle Jerry paid for. If it wasn’t so dang important to see me strut across the long stage in front of doting parents, grandparents, and whatnot, I’d be home watchin’ a little wrastlin’.
            “You look so cute in a suit,” Mama says. “C’mere, Tim, let me fix your tie.”
            “Whatsamatter with my tie, Mama? I done it just like Uncle Jerry taught me.”
            She shakes her head and laughs. “You can take the boy to college, but you can’t take the redneck outa him.”
            “The apple don’t fall far from the tree, Mama.”
            “True.” She gives my tie an extra yank and cups my face in her hands. I hate when she does that, but I know it makes her feel good. “I am so proud of you, shoogie. You’ve worked so hard to get your degree, and now you’re gonna start on a career of a lifetime.”
            “Mama.” I take a step back and look her in the eye. “I’m just gonna be sellin’ hair products. That’s not exactly my dream job.”
            “And why not? It’s perfectly respectable, and Jerry is kind enough to give you a company car and all the benefits to go with it.”
            I’d much rather be sellin’ farm equipment or maybe even runnin’ some of it myself. But Uncle Jerry felt like he had to man up when my daddy, his brother, took off and left me and mama. Some of my college buddies still hadn’t found jobs, so I know I should at least act grateful.
            “Yeah, I’m a lucky guy,” I say. “Not everyone has an Uncle Jerry.”
            “Did I hear my name?” There’s no mistakin’ my uncle’s boomin’ voice that sounds bigger than life. “C’mon, let’s leave this boy alone so he can get his sheepskin.” He winks at me. “You’re becomin’ a man tonight, and we’re all so proud we could pop.”
            The next three hours drag as the university president calls out the name of each graduate. The whole experience is about as boring as it can get, but I know that’s all part of growin’ up. When I was a kid, I thought it would be cool to be an adult on account of it looked like they could do whatever they wanted, eat whatever they wanted, and stay up as long as they wanted. Now I know better. Bein’ an adult means tryin’ to pretend you’re havin’ fun when you’re bored to tears.
            After the whole thing is over, Uncle Jerry tells all the women folk that he needs to talk to me, man-to-man. I cringe ‘cause I think he wants to have the birds-and-bees chat with me. I learned the normal way—from my pals in the boys’ room back in middle school. But since this is one of those things that’s so all-fired important to him, I figure I’ll just let him do what he feels like he needs to do.
            “Now that you’re all graduated, it’s time to tell you my plans,” he says as he grins and pulls some keys out of his pocket. “Oh, and while we’re at it, here are the keys to your company car.”
            My heart pounds. I never had my own automobile before. I start to grab for them, but he pulls them a few inches away.
            “C’mon, let’s go out to the parkin’ lot, and I’ll show you the car I’ve leased for you.”
            I don’t expect the snazziest sports car in the world, but when he leads me to a land yacht on wheels, my heart sinks. “This is it?”
            Uncle Jerry’s chest swells as he nods and grins. “I usually start my salesmen with the basic fleet car, but since you’re my nephew, I thought I’d get you into the biggest and most upgraded Buick they had.”
            “I’m fine with the basic car. Seriously, Uncle Jerry, this car is way…too big for me.” No way do I wanna be seen in this big ol’ honkin’ thang.
            He turns around and looks the car over before turning back to me. “Are you sure? Most of my salesmen would love to have this car.”
            “I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you give it to one of ‘em, and I can take their old car?”
            At first, I’m a little worried that he’ll take offense, but when he slaps me on the back and flings his arm over my shoulder, I know I done somethin’ good. “You’ve just made one man very happy, Tim. Why don’t you take my car tonight, and I’ll drive this one over to Lawrence’s house tomorrow? Me and you can swap out when you and your mama come to lunch on Sunday.”
            We head back to the arena, him talkin’ and me listenin’…or at least tryin’ to. He goes on and on about my new territory.
            “You might not think it’s all that great to call on hair salons, but believe you me, it’s better than it looks on the surface,” he says.
            “I’m sure.”
            “Yeah, you get to see pretty ladies all day. They’ll probably fawn all over you in the beginning, but after they get to know you, they’ll share their deepest confidences. You’ll become their best guy friend.”
            That doesn’t sound all that great to me. Bein’ just friends with a pretty girl isn’t my idea of a good time.
            “And there will be some who will take a different kind of likin’ to you.” He grins and nudges me in the ribs with his elbow. “Know what I mean?”
            Now we’re talkin’. I smile. “Yeah, I think so.”
            “And speakin’ of pretty girls, the first account I’m givin’ you is Prissy’s Cut ‘n Curl in Piney Point. The owner is a young woman with a ton of ambition. I figure the two of you, both bein’ so new in the business, will be able to grow together.”
            “Piney Point?” I say. “Ain’t that the hick town out from Hattiesburg?”
            “Tim, let me set you straight on somethin’ before you go spoutin’ off insults to your clients. Some of those what you call hick towns grow some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Don’t ever forget where you come from.”
            I feel ashamed of myself. “I’m sorry, Uncle Jerry. I don’t know what got into me.”
            “You’re just feelin’ all full of yourself ‘cause you just got yourself a college degree.”
            “I’ll make you proud,” I say as I draw a cross over my chest with my finger. “I promise.”
            “I know you will. Take the next week and get your stuff together. I’ve put a deposit on an apartment in Jackson that’s centrally located in your territory.”
            I hadn’t thought about where I’d live. “Does Mama know you done that?”
            Uncle Jerry exploded with booming laughter. “Does your mama know? Tim, she’s the one who picked it out.”

Monday, May 6, 2013

Before the Class Reunion - Trudy Baynard


2
Trudy Baynard

I sit in the dark living room and stare out the front window, watching for Michael’s car to pull into the driveway. He was supposed to be home an hour ago to take me out for my birthday.
            Michael has been late coming home every night for the past two months. He tells me he’s working late, but Mama thinks there’s some hanky panky going on. She hears stuff at the Cut ‘n Curl, and I suwannee, she thinks everything someone says there is the gospel.
            I wait another half hour before I finally get up and go back into the kitchen. I’ve been starvin’ myself all afternoon so I can enjoy the surf ‘n turf dinner at the Ritz Manor, Piney Point’s finest restaurant.
            My stomach makes one of those gurgling sounds that lets me know I can’t hold off any longer, so I open the fridge and peruse the contents. There’s the meatloaf and mashed potatoes plate I fixed for Michael last night—the one he didn’t bother heatin’ up and eating. Beneath that is the bowl of spaghetti that he never touched. And on the shelf below I spot the strawberry cheesecake Mama brought over yesterday.
            I grab the cheesecake that has a single slice missing and carry it over to the table. Then I head over to the cabinet to get a plate and knife, but when I return, I realize the only thing I got was a fork. I glance down at the cheesecake and figure, oh well, before sitting down and digging in.
            The first bite is delicious, and the second bite even better. The third bite feels downright indulgent. By the time I scrape the last of the crumbs in the bottom of the pie plate, I feel bloated and even more irritated than ever. Michael still isn’t home.
            After rinsing the dish and sticking it in the dishwasher, I hear the door opening. A few seconds later, a shadow fills the kitchen.
            “Where have you been?” I ask. “I’ve been waiting for you all evenin’. It’s my birthday, Michael.”
            Without even attempting a smile, Michael shakes his head. “Don’t start in on me, Trudy. You know how much I hate nagging wives.”
            “So you think I’m a nagging wife?” I can’t hold back the shrillness of my voice. “What do you think about a man who breaks promises to the person he says he’ll love for the rest of his life?”
            Michael flinches and closes his eyes. “Don’t. It’s not worth it.” He opens his eyes and walks over to the refrigerator, opens the door, and then looks at me over his shoulder. “Where’s that cheesecake I saw in there last night?”
            My jaw tightens. I don’t say a word as I stand there and stare at him, feelin’ guilty all over.
            Then he snorts, his eyes narrow, and I see the disgust on his face. “Don’t tell me you ate the whole dang thing. Trudy, the one thing worse than a nagging wife is a fat one.” He looks me up and down and shakes his head. “Speakin’ of…you’ve been packin’ on some pounds lately. Not very attractive.”
            That does it. I jab my finger in his direction. “If you would come home and be a decent husband, I wouldn’t eat all the time.”
            “And if you’d get yourself a job, I wouldn’t have to work so much.”
            “You told me when we first got married—”
            He holds up his hands to silence me. I slink back against the wall. Michael has never laid a hand on me, but his words are more painful than any physical abuse he could ever inflict. “When we got married, you were pretty, petite, and slim. Now you’re…” He eyes me up and down and shakes his head. “You’re not the woman I married.”
            I stand there with my mouth hangin’ open for what seems like forever, until he sneers and walks away. Then I run to our room and throw myself across the bed. I want to sob, but I have no tears left.
            “Trudy?” The voice coming from the doorway is softer, so I turn around and look at Michael.
            “What?”
            “Are we goin’ to the class reunion? I saw the invitation on the table.”
            “I’m not sure.”
            “You better decide soon.” His hard edge has returned. “It’ll take you some time to get your figure back, and I won’t show up and have all my friends see how my wife let herself go.”
            “What?” I shriek.
            “Is that all you can say?” He snickers. “Get your lazy rear out of that bed and do something. Fix yourself up. I can’t stand lookin’ at you like this.”
            I reach over and pick up the closest thing on the nightstand. As soon as it leaves my hands, I realize it’s the antique vase Mama gave us when we first got married. It shatters as it hits the wall, and I'm still fumin’ and achin’.
            Now the tears fall do a free-fall down my cheeks.