Not on the Side of a Milk Carton…Yet.

I could spend the next couple of paragraphs listing off reasons why I haven’t written but it’s old and stale, so I’m going to say thank you for coming back and reading this. You have the patience of Job. Gold star for you.

I and indeed my entire family have fallen into the rut of the runaway reality. You know, where the weekdays run into the weekend and the weekend rolls right into the next week, and rinse and repeat…

I’d love to wow you with stories of summer adventures, alas, the two weeks I have with The Big Guy were spent with he finishing the landscaping – the second stage of the home reno – and me watching him. My role was head cheerleader, food provider and to keep track of his fluid intake to ensure he didn’t dehydrate. Of course it was the hottest stretch of weather when he worked on the project.

At the end of the day, it is gorgeous and we are delighted. We’ve also made a pact that we won’t do any more home improvement for at least a year. There is a basement bathroom to finish, and we still have painted plywood in our bedroom – but we know that won’t hit the top 5 list any time soon.

If you could see me right now, you’d see that I am holding up my right hand. I am vowing to write more frequently. In fact – today is Thursday and I’m going to have at least one post within the next seven days.

Promise. ūüėÄ

I’m Slipping…or Not.

Truthfully, I thought I was losing my ever-lovin’ mind.

It’s bad enough that I have glasses that help me when my eyes are tired, but to lose a pair? Come one. I’m 47, not 87.

With the chaos settling around the house, there have been a couple of things that have gone “missing” temporarily, then found, as we all learn where things are going to be stored. I’ve even had a couple of good purge days where I was able to be merciless and toss or repurpose items that were not living up to their full potential.

But the glasses were gone. I couldn’t tell how long they had been gone. I just knew that any time I wanted to drive at night, I really felt like I would do better if I was wearing them.

Finally over the weekend, I got serious about locating the glasses. Fortunately I had my prescription sunglasses, but the other pair were GONE. I looked in places that I thought they might be. I looked in places that I knew they wouldn’t be. It’s like I had them and then, suddenly, I didn’t.

Both The Big Guy and Second Born Son were aware that I was looking for these glasses. SBS immediately indicated he had no idea where they were, but if he found them, he’d let me know. TBG, however, was far more invested.

As anyone knows, when you are looking for something, have someone making “helpful” suggestions is, in fact, far from an aid in the objective. TBG asked if I checked my purse. I had. He asked if I looked in the Jeep. I had. He asked if I looked in any of the new handy drawers in the kitchen. Of course I had – that was the first round of searching. He tried his “Dad Voice” on me, lecturing me about keeping track of my things. I reminded him that I already had a father and TBG need to slow his roll. I added the eyebrow for emphasis. I’m pretty sure my eyebrow trumps his Dad voice.

It wasn’t until Sunday that all was revealed. Heading out the door to grab some groceries, I happened to look up to the very top shelf of the front door closet and there they were; on the highest point on the highest shelf, in an area that I cannot reach without a stool to stand on. Remember, I am not short. I immediately knew what happened.

This shelf is a favorite of TBG’s for when he wants to quickly clear the hall the table of any items that he deems to be clutter, junk or simply don’t belong to him. I grabbed the nearest chair, hiked up to grab my glasses, and set out to find the father of my children.

I found him, unsurprisingly, cuddling Roman in the garage. Apparently I had interrupted a nail clipping session. Whatever. I held out the glasses for him to see. He was genuinely happy to see I had found them. Then asked the obvious question.

“Where did you find them?”

As I relayed the location of the glasses case, I could see the penny drop. He didn’t initially recall putting them there, and even tried to suggest that perhaps I had put them there, but couldn’t row that boat because he KNOWS I hate things being put up there. I would NEVER put my glasses there. He doubled down and tried to suggest that I should just be happy that I found them.

I suggested that he needs to stop “helping” me.

Because it’s causing me my sanity.

My Own Little Soap Opera

How does one explain one’s absence for half a year?

By being honest.

It’s been overwhelming.

<PAUSE> Yes, it’s early in the post for a “PAUSE”, but you need to know this is going to be long one, so take this moment to put on your seatbelt. Maybe a drink. And snacks. <PLAY>

Home reno. Work challenges. Physical challenges. Suffice it to say it all hit the fan at the beginning of August. Yes, I posted a lovely, if not sentimental entry on the 21st, but that, my friends, was Sarah cruising down the River Nile, De-nile if you will.

I do tend to be a “Glass half-full” kinda gal. I’ll power through a lot under the guise of ‘you can chose to be positive as easily as you choose to be negative.’ My theory was tested on August 3.

The Big Guy and I were heading out to pick up his aunt and uncle for ice cream in the Jeep. It was a lovely Friday evening. Our lactose laden dessert enjoyment was interrupted by a phone call from Second Born Son.

“I don’t want to ruin your visit with Aunt & Uncle,” he said, “and I don’t want you to panic (WHAT THA HELL?) but we have a ton of water coming into the basement right now.” he said.

Me – versed in the art of poker face, and trying desperately hard to not ask a million questions, calmly, and with a smile on my face, asked a couple of short, quick questions as I glided out of ear-shot of the family. I asked him to hold the fort and we’d be there ASAP.

“Oh, by the way, there’s no food here and I forgot to pick up something from work, so can you grab me a pizza for dinner,” he asked before resuming the bailing that was going on in our basement.

Yes, son. I can get you pizza. For the record “there’s no food here” means there’s nothing he WANTS to eat. I was not about to quibble. He was literally bailing out the basement.

With the serenity of Princess Grace, I drove the group back to the Aunt & Uncle’s house, then advised we couldn’t come in for the offered cup of coffee, because we had to get SBS’ pizza. As we rolled out of their line of sight, I updated TBG on the antics at the house. I then ordered pizza. It was ready as we rolled into town and we were back in our house within 10 minutes. It’s a 20 minute drive….but I digress.

We walked into the basement which looked like this…

2018-08-03 20.24.04What you see here is the carpet in our finished basement. It is saturated. On the left its the tarp on the massive storage hutch that is 10 feet long. It houses all of our photo albums, toys such as lego and board games. We don’t know it yet, but it’s saturated and will be tossed.

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This is but a sample of the buckets SBS had scattered throughout the room to catch the water that is coming though our finished ceiling. You can see how wet the carpet is – it’s only been 30 minutes.

2018-08-03 20.24.19This is one of two antique lights TBG has over his antique pool table. You can see the pool table in the lower half of the photo. He put the table cover, a quilt and industrial Saran Wrap on it to protect it. I teased him mercilessly about OCD. At this point, not only did I apologize for the razzing I put him through, but I also thanked him for doing so.

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Having run out of buckets, SBS thought quickly and started using coolers. More drips are coming through the ceiling.

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Here you can see the temporary wall that was put up to keep the finished basement from being overly impacted by the construction in the basement. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

You can see the water marks coming through the ceiling tiles. Directly above the tiles is a trough that was cut in the floor upstairs. This was to allow trades to access wires, pipes from the kitchen that was being ripped apart, rather than taking down the basement ceiling. Cuz, you know, we didn’t want to take on another project.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Dude. You laugh or you cry.

What happened was that around 6 p.m. there was a microburst – strong winds along with ¬†a lot of rain. Because our windows had not arrived yet (due four days later) the opening for the large windows at the south of the house allowed a boat load of water into the house via the main floor. The wind drove the water 20 feet into the house, which is where the trough was cut, which allowed the water to “rain” into the finished basement.

Good times.

2018-08-03 20.22.14Here you can see the trough in the foreground. This is roughly half way into our original dining room. The water goes another 7 feet past this mark.

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This is our three-sided gas fireplace. You can see the water inside the fireplace. For those who don’t know, there is not supposed to be water inside a gas fireplace. See, learned something new today!

Within days the insurance company sent round a restoration crew to assess the damage. Their testing determined that the entire basement was compromised by water and would have to be gutted and rebuilt. All of our belongings that were displaced from the main floor were stored in the basement. Mostly in cardboard boxes.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH…you get the idea.

We just got ourselves another major project kids!

The restoration company was then tasked with removing the wood paneling, carpet and insulation. We had already removed the belongings and pulled out anything that had to be junked. They needed to come back a second time because they didn’t think the cork lining in the ceiling need to come down.

BWAHAHAHA.

There is so much more to the dealings we had with this company, but the one take away I will share with you is this…

This is my front foyer. In my front foyer, which is dark forest green, there is now a large white crack. I can span it with my forefinger and my thumb. This is the result of a hammer hitting the backside of the PLASTER wall – the basement as it were. This is damage done by the “wrecking crew” who removed the cork ceiling on the second trip.

NOW we have a front entrance that needs to be fixed. And painted. I need things to stop sliding downhill. TBG, SBS and I are basically living in our laundry room, which doubles as a kitchen, pantry and office. We are starting to strongly dislike each other. It’s nothing personal, it’s what is expected to happen when you cram people into too small a space for too long a time. SBS, never a morning person – yes, he’s my son, resents the tradesmen who are usually up and working in his house before he’s up and conscious in the morning.

Eventually, we start seeing progress.

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There were other little hiccups, like when the tint we agreed to for the gross orange brick didn’t turn out the way we hoped on the first try…

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See the dark brown brick? Yeah. that’s NOT the color we picked.

We did get it corrected, eventually.

Then we got the appliances delivered. And the range was damaged. It’s now the end of September. We are working with insurance to address the basement, and it becomes clear that if we want to get this basement done the way we would like to be, we need to take out the gaudy fireplace.

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It took an entire day to get it out and cleaned out. An entire day with three guys working on it. First Born Son regretting coming home that weekend, I can tell ya!

Trying to be a cooperative person, I tell the tradesmen that the basement project will not be started right away, but will need to be done before Christmas. This is to give us the finished space we need to access Christmas decorations and to have another area for guests to move into, and use the pool table (which was not – miracle of miracles – damaged) as we are entertaining both families on two different occasions this year.

I clean. And everything gets dirty moments later. I clean again. TBG and I installed the floor that runs from the existing living room all the way into the new kitchen and dining room. Naturally we do this on the hottest weekend of the summer.

My kitchen is put off a week at a time. I finally reach my limit and tell the cabinet maker, that I need SOMETHING to look finished. I need to see SOME progress. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF DOOR HANDLES CAN WE FINISH SOMETHING???

He takes pity upon me and gets the installation set. It is a revelation. Slowly, things start getting better. We are able to move out of the laundry room. The workers aren’t coming every day any more so SBS is much happier. I have a dishwashers, so I’M much happier. TBG keeps paying bills.

Then, one magical day in November, it was done. The fireplace was activated and the range hood was installed. These were the final aspects of the upstairs project. We won’t take about the basement because even though there’s flooring and painted drywall, there’s so much more to do down there.

But upstairs is a dream….

I’m a little obsessed with the dining room table – a great find by TBG. It’s 14 ft long and 54 inches wide. It’s AMAZING. The light is a collection of bulbs distributed by a ladder that came from TBG’s farm. We learned over the holidays that is is more than 150 years old and was made by the same person who built the family’s barn. Such a treasure!

Now, as I sit in the living room, looking at the dining room, having made two relatively stress-free Christmas meals in the enlarged kitchen, I can say that it was worth it. The ground broke the first week of June and we were able to use all aspects of the kitchen by the end of November. Some things were more challenging than we expected, but we have been positive. You know you are doing well when the contractors tell you you are patient people! lol

It’s a thrill to be in this space. To see a dream realized. To enjoy the home the way you imagined it could be.

Thank you all for your patience. Here’s to 2019 – it will have to work hard to compare to 2018!

XXV

I’m sitting on the couch watching the rain pour down outside, with Say Yes To The Dress Canada in the background, when I can hear it over the whine of power tools.

Twenty-five years ago, I was in my wedding dress, taking photos with my bridesmaids in the sunshine and preparing to get married.

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It couldn’t be more different from today.

I’m on vacation this week. The Big Guy is at work. He’s going to take off Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. This has raised some eyebrows. At first, I was disappointed, but I look at it this way; like my wedding day, my 25th wedding anniversary is one. day. In the 9,131 days we’ve been married, there have been many amazing days. Some of them were better than our wedding day. I’m not hinging my happiness of more than 9,000 days on the contents of one.

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Which leads me back to my wedding day, and the young women on Say Yes To The Dress Canada. So much energy, emotion, drama, MONEY for one day. You hear it in what they are saying and how they act. The dress has to be PERFECT. The day has to be PERFECT. Everyone has to love the PERFECT bride.

<PAUSE> May I take moment to share my thoughts about the unending focus on the bride. Yup, she gets the fancier outfit, but she’s only one-half of the equation. If the groom doesn’t show up, this is nothing but a Prom For One. And yes, I’m basing this on a heterosexual relationship because that happens to be what I’m in – and what they seem to cater to on SYTTDC. <PLAY>

So let’s say the day is PERFECT. The weather cooperates, the guests arrive on time, the venue is stunning, none of the key players are a) inebriated b) quarrelling. The bride is stunning and the dresses, flowers, and elementary school bridal attendants are Instragram worthy. The service is the ideal ratio of reverent, emotional, traditional, modern and contains no less than three Facebook worthy posts. The food is scrumptious, the music is perfectly selected and the party never seems to end.

Until it ends.

And you wake up six months later with the person you vowed to love until the end of days. There are no more bridal showers with amazing and unnecessary items to replace the “old” household items that have served you perfectly well while you lived together. No more two-day bachelor/ette parties in remote locations. No more spotlight. Just life.

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The perfect couple, right? WRONG!

Because life is why you side up for, both in content and in term. Yes to the awesome days when you both are in a great mood. Yes to the days when you want to throw in the towel on life. Yes to an empty bank account and Yes to a surprise dinner out when one of you gets a raise. Yes to not talking for three days because you are so busy you don’t realize it’s ¬†almost the weekend. Yes to your own form of shorthand when you talk, text, or need to relay info telekinetically in the middle of a disastrous family gathering.

TBG is the first guy I dated. I said yes the first time he asked me to marry him. There has not been anyone else I’d rather hand 25 years over to. I understand when he doesn’t communicate so well. He tolerates when I over-communicate. He is a perfectionist – I am not. We work. And we work well together. A quarter of a century and two kids later, I think we’ve proved that.

Happy 25th Anniversary Big Guy. Here’s to 25 more!

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The Big Guy’s first selfie. After all, his arms are longer than mine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Years

Facebook reminded me that it’s four years tomorrow since my father died.

Amongst the memories of sunsets, flowers, dog and kid pictures is a photo of my Dad. The one we used in his obituary. I catch my breath every time I see it. I remember taking the picture. I remember it was Father’s Day. I remember we knew he was sick and that we needed to squeeze every last memory we could out of the days we had with him. I remember telling him that this was his Father’s Day gift, photos of him with all his grandkids. I remember knowing I was lying to him because the photos were for us. Cancer has a way of destroying the memory of how your loved one looks. It lays waste to the body and forever imprints in your mind how hard they are trying to fight, and yet, losing.

DAD 2015

He didn’t look like that yet. It was coming. But on this day, he still looked like Dad.

So as the fourth year rolls around, part of me feels guilty because I haven’t been feeling as heavy as I have other years. From the beginning of June I start to dread the 6th. It’s the first of a two-part whammy because his birthday is on the 9th. I’m more emotional and sentimental. Not this June. Life has been stupid, crazy, busy and I find myself facing the eve of this anniversary and it starts to sink in…I’m not heavy. I’m used to this pain at this time of year.

I feel guilty that I don’t feel that way. I wonder what it means.

Second Born Son got his full licence on Monday. As I think about it, I’m struck by the thought that the world I’m living in now is moving so much farther away from the one my father lived in. He kicked me out of his hospital room to apply for the job I now have. The one I’ve excelled in and worked so hard at. I was told I had the job two days after his funeral. So many times I’ve thought, “He’d love to hear this story” regarding something that happened at work. First Born Son is in the working world. He was in high school when Dad died. He didn’t even know if he wanted to go to college. FBS now has his dream truck, his life planned out and graduated college. SBS has one year left of high school and will be going to college. He’s as tall as his 6’4 brother and is going to be a heartbreaker. He was in Grade 8 when my father died. He didn’t get to see FBS or SBS graduate into high school because of his illness. We are making changes in our life that we never thought of when he was here. In some ways I think he’d be lost if he came back and saw where all of us were today.

We moved on. Without him. It feels wrong.

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I still cry. Usually it’s a song or a photo. Something that hits an emotion. Music and memories get me. I spent his last night on earth bunking with him in his hospital room. Neither of us slept much.

I still dream about him. One just a few weeks ago that was so real I didn’t even take much notice that he was in the dream. It was so natural to be talking about the dogs with him in this dream, just watching them bounce around. He was there, petting them, commenting on how big Cane was, how sucky Roman was. Dad never met Cane since he wasn’t born until a couple years later. Dad loved dogs. I woke up from that dream and was absolutely convinced the conversation had taken place. He was THERE.

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Maybe that’s how I’m supposed to look at theses years moving away from my father’s life. He’s not HERE but he’s here. He knows what’s going on. He would love the Jeep. He would be absolutely stoked about the renovation. He would be singing the praises of FBS working toward his dreams and would be congratulating SBS on his licence and upcoming prom. He would be thrilled to see what I do for work.

It doesn’t make June 6 any easier. It just means the wound isn’t throbbing any more. It’s a scar.

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I Now Pronounce You…

It’s been many moons since The Big Guy and I vowed to fight over blankets and morning routines. Sometimes I look back and shake my head over the things that were deemed important and necessary to have a wedding in the early 90s.

Although there was some small movement away from traditions, (we didn’t have a traditional receiving line – GASP THE HORROR!)¬† we were pretty conventional. Except, when it came to my name.

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I was drawn back to a conversation I had with my future in-laws about 25 years ago, after reading this article. It seems crazy to me that a quarter of a century after I hyphenated my name, there is still a debate about women taking their husbands’ surnames.

It never occurred to me NOT to take TBG’s name. I just didn’t want to have to give up MY name. For some men, the issue of a woman refraining from linking last names is too big a picture. They need to look at the root of the matter; you are asking someone to change what they call themselves. I was Sarah B for the first 21 years of my life. I was actually called that in classrooms when there was more than one Sarah and we had to tack on the first letter of the last name to distinguish between me and Sarah K. It was a small school and it we knew it was going to be a long year whenever we realized we were in the same class – the only two Sarahs.

I don’t recall a specific moment when I decided I was going to keep my name. I do remember thinking for a while before getting engaged, that there were no males to carry on the family name. It was important to me to carry that on, and to preserve my identity. I had also done some research into the family I was joining and learned that there were not one, but two previous Sarahs. I’d be Sarah The Third with this last name. I didn’t really think about my future kids, but figured we’d sort that out down the line. I know when I told my father of my plan, he was quietly pleased.

But the aforementioned conversation with my soon to be in-laws took place about six months before the wedding. There was a discussion about the service and how we would be introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Big Guy. My oh-so helpful future brother-in-law, who knew of my plan, said, “That’s if Sarah takes TBG’s name.” Two pairs of eyes were on me.

“You AREN’T taking our name?” asked my future MIL with a look of disbelief on her face. My FIL didn’t speak but had an equally perplexed expression.

“No, it’s not that,” I tried to explain, “I’m actually going to hyphenate my name.”

Silence.

“Did you tell TBG this?!” demanded his mother. I stated that we had talked about it, and that he was in complete support. Conveniently, TBG was not in the room for this charming exchange.

This was more than shocking to my future parents-in-law. I don’t think they personally knew of any other woman who had done this, and it was outside their understanding. I’m sure for them it was an insult, but they could have chosen to see it as a young woman who had a more independent mindset, wanting to demonstrate her commitment to her husband, while still being autonomous. It had nothing to do with how much I cared for my fianc√©. In fact, the idea that he was supportive of this, and wasn’t threatened by it, made him all the more attractive to me. Gotta love an open-minded man!

On the day of our wedding we were introduced as “Mr. Big Guy and Mrs. Maiden Name – Big Guy.” An easy way to let our family and friends know how I was addressing myself.

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When it was time to have children, the agreement was that they would only have their father’s surname. If they decided they wanted to have a hyphenated name, we would pay to change it. TBG agreed.

Traditionally, women were considered the property of men – that’s why her father would hand her off to her husband on her wedding day; a transfer of ownership – and with that was a name change. Times have changed and the issues surround the surname have become somewhat complicated. When a woman divorces, the dilemma is there – do I change my name back to my maiden name? Do I want to have the same name as my children?

In this era of women fighting for, and being recognized equally in most modern relationships, it seems a little dated to argue over what she calls herself. And a little archaic to insist she have the same moniker as her spouse. Welcome to the 21st Century!

 

 

 

 

Clean up in Aisle Five!

One of the more mundane life jobs that I really don’t mind, is doing laundry. I love the feeling of accomplishment when the piles of clean, folded laundry are before me.

The same cannot be said for grocery shopping. Trying to figure out what we need for the coming week. Trying to figure out what I’m going to feel like cooking four days from now. Trying to spend less than $300 a week, which is only possible while First Born Son is away at work. LOVE YOU SON!

Then there is the experience of acquiring the groceries. There’s the hauling of the empty bins and bags so that I’m environmentally responsible. Next, I have to make my way through a sea of humanity to vie for the same bundle of green onions as the person beside me. I shop at two stores; one that packs my groceries for me – and I only go to trusted cashiers who won’t demolish my bananas, and another where you are forced through like cattle in a chute and need to bag your own groceries with speed and dexterity that is best demonstrated on Survivor.

Grocery shopping brings out the worst in people, myself included. ¬†Thoughtless individuals leave their carts unattended in front of a display of discounted canned soup, while doubling back 20 feet to find the crackers they passed by. ¬†I’ve witnessed kids trying to shoplift, couples have full-blown domestics and countless meltdowns – and they weren’t all from children.

The checkout process is just as painful. Customers who ring through all their purchases and then realize they forgot their wallets at home are the BEST. A close second are those who clip coupons. There’s a special place in hell for them.

One of my part time jobs as teen was working in a grocery store, so perhaps I’ve carried over some latent issues from the 80s. Forgive me.

But by far, my favourite grocery store tale was just a couple of weeks ago. There I was, minding my own business, about half done the weekly torture session that is grocery shopping. As I approached the end of the aisle, I noticed a staff member chatting with a customer who has a small child in a grocery cart. They appeared to know each other, and immediately I constructed a plan to get around them without hitting them.

The customer turned toward me as she sensed me drawing near.

“HOLY FUCK!” ¬†she yells. YELLS.

<PAUSE> For those of you with delicate constitutions, this blog post features the word “fuck”, which is not part of my personal vocabulary because I don’t like saying it, but apparently I have no issuing writing it. Conduct yourself accordingly. <PLAY>

In the nanosecond that she yells this, I engage the Fight or Flight reflex. I must be a heartbeat away from a tragic canned fruit stoning. Perhaps there’s a tsunami of 2% milk bearing down on me?! I actually flinch and glance over my shoulder.

“YOUR HAIR IS FUCKING AWESOME!”

<PAUSE> Knowing that I don’t use this word with any kind of regularity, I do find it interesting to see how it is employed by those who do. On the very rare occasion that I have used this word, it has been during extreme duress with the utmost urgency. Not that that’s an excuse, Mom.<PLAY>

I’m in shock that this woman is offering this kind of language a) in the public place, b) with a child within earshot, c) about something as innocuous as HAIR.

I do what I do best when faced with public embarrassment; pretend like everything is normal.

“Oh, thanks!” I offer, trying to negotiate between her hind end and the industrial shelving that offers every kind of cake mix known to man.

“No, really! I love the colour! And it looks so…” she gestures wildly around her head. “I wish I could wear my hair like that. FUCKING AWESOME!”

I smile and squeeze through the narrow channel, pointing my cart to freedom. The customer turns back to her employee friend and continues to extol the virtue of my truly exceptional coiffure.

For the record, this is what the fuss was all about…

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…and I can give you the name of my hairdresser so you can have FUCKING AWESOME hair too.

BTW – I now wear a peaked cap to the grocery store.