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Monthly Archives: April 2014

…Shop Alone

Shopping: For some it’s a pastime. Others view the event as a competitive sport. In an effort to shield themselves from all social interaction, a few sad souls avoid shopping whenever possible. Their excuses are embarrassing. They’ll fake illness, pretend they suffered a sudden bout of amnesia, or in a pinch claim they’re “slammed!” at work — lame excuses for why they can’t join you for a shopping excursion or worse, why they didn’t buy you (or anyone else in the family!) a Christmas gift. Then the few & the proud  actually take shopping to a professional level and make it their job. (honestly, this one appeals to me a bit, though I can’t say exactly why…)

Most of us who spend any time at all in the cyberworld have of course become cyber shoppers. It’s so easy. Click. Click. Click. Buy buy buy. Spend spend spend. Telling your money, “bye, ‘bye, ‘bye” has never been easier. The anti-social amongst us must be greatly relieved. No longer do they have to manufacture a cough or work 7 days a week. They can slip on their after-work sweatpants and go to the cyber mall. Whew! Once again, presents for everyone.

I’ll admit, I love the ease of We buy our incandescent light bulbs from retailers on amazon. Our dog’s crate came via the same method. And don’t even get me started on singing the praises of buying books, movies, cds. Couldn’t be more convenient. But some things should probably not be purchased online. Say, for instance, a dress for your son’s wedding.

I can only conclude that facing the fact of my baby’s upcoming marriage triggered my brief bout of insanity. Mind you, I didn’t search the website for a mother-of-the-groom dress. (I guess I retained a modicum of sense.) But I did browse the major department stores’ websites. And after many hours of click, click, click, I found a dress that I absolutely loved. A couple more clicks and it was on its way to my front door. Remember. I LOVED it. Right up until it arrived at my front door and I dropped everything to try it on. To say that it, and I, looked hideous would be a kindness. Hideous will suffice.

My stupidity, unfortunately, did not end there.

A nice thing about shopping the online version of a department store that also anchors a nearby mall is this: No return shipping fee. Off to the store I went. Conveniently, one of the groomsmen (another son!) and their dad (my hubby) tagged along. Something about buying the suits the bride and groom had selected for the big day. After I’d made my easy-peasy return, I decided to indulge myself with a bit of in-store browsing (what a novelty!). Disaster was written across my forehead, but I didn’t know it at the time. Nope. Not I. I was blinded by a vision of such mother-of-the-groom-dress loveliness that, before I knew what I was doing, I’d tried it on, twirled about in the dressing room, and purchased the thing. Ta-DA!

I needed someone to say “Ta-Don’t!” is the thing.

I took that dress home. Showed it to nearly everyone — husband, daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law to be (aka the bride). Heck, I took a picture of it and sent to several others who might have an opinion. What I never did, though, was try the dang thing on so that someone — ANYONE! could say, ‘whoa, whoa, whoa.’ TIME OUT. You’re wearing THAT!??!?”

We see our daughter-in-law to be for the first time!

We see our daughter-in-law to be for the first time!






See, this is why friends don’t let friends shop alone. Because, under no circumstances should a mother-of-the-groom look like she’s carrying around a sack of potatoes (even if she is, figuratively speaking, carrying around a sack of potatoes). Sure, sure, no one could ever upstage this beauty hugging her dad-in-law. Still. The mother-of-the-groom would do well to, you know, get a second opinion when buying the dress that identifies her as the ‘mother-of-the-groom.’ Because LOTS of pictures are snapped on wedding days.

For this reason alone, I repeat: Friends don’t let friends shop alone: not online; not for important purchases like major appliances or furniture upgrades; not for swimwear; not for pillows, laundry detergent or prime rib. Most especially, friends don’t let friends shop for once-in-a-lifetime dresses alone. Disaster can strike at any moment, friends. One minute you’re returning an online purchase. The next you’re twirling in a dressing room, imagining the mother-groom dance, and then, ‘buy, buy, buy.’

Don’t let it happen to you. Or your friends.


…Do ANYTHING without first, a Consultation

Here’s the thing: I suffer from impulsivity. Sure, such a trait means I have an attractive spontaneity streak. But it also means that I, by turns, am stuck being either the life or the party or the ultimate party pooper. You see, I don’t always think a thing through before I jump in, going where anyone with a lick of sense would say, ‘not on your life, pal.’  Conversely, sometimes I say, ‘are you flippin’ out of your MIND?????? NO! Absolutely NOT!” and miss out on once-in-a-lifetime adventures.

Mostly, though, I just miss the simple logic and common sense that many of my friends take for granted. There they go, navigating city streets, parenting, workplace etiquette and social situations with ease; meanwhile, I can’t read a map, my kids survived their raising by a hair’s breadth and I’ve been called into the principal’s office more than any  student who ever entered my class room.

Remember when we were told that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’? (I wonder if that means it will take a village to run the country???? But I digress…) I don’t know if a village would have helped me, but I do know that my circle of friends (you know the ones — they “defend the silver lining“) help me through all the hard stuff.

If you asked them, they’d acknowledge that I, their friend, experience a bit more hard stuff. Because I can’t read a map. Because I have this spontaneous streak. Because I don’t always think things through. And if you’re just like me, or you have a mini-me for a friend, remember: Friends don’t let friends do anything without first, a consultation.

This might mean that you ever-so-gently remind a friend that she lacks subtly.

This might mean that you never let her go to a big city alone.

This might mean that you point out your friend’s ruthless honesty, and warn her that not everyone can take it. She’ll try, but she’ll still end up telling you the truth…

This might mean that you never ask her to proof-read a paper, or if your jeans make your butt look fat. She’ll tell you about every run-on sentence. She’ll tell you your butt makes your butt look fat.

But she’ll also consult with you if you ask. Because she already knows that friends don’t let friends EVER do anything, without checking with the ‘circle of friends.’


…Misuse Common Phrases (and show their ignorance)

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I’m going to step on some toes here. I couldn’t care less. Here’s why. Words matter! Even when we’re merely using common phrases or idiomatic nuggets, friends don’t let friends use them incorrectly! GAH!

For instance, when we’re not careful about how much we care, we might say (erroneously) “I could care less!” This means that the level of care hasn’t reached its nadir yet; but obviously what we mean to say is, “this is it! I don’t give a hoot anymore !!”– i.e., “I couldn’t care less!” which means, I could not possibly care any less than I already don’t care.” (see opening lines)

When we want to describe an unexpected or unusually quick event, we have some options. None of those options include this: “all of the sudden…” No, no, no. See, the parts of speech really help us figure these things out. (Yes, I’m an English teacher, and I’m here to, you know, HELP). The word sudden is an adjective. Adjectives are modifiers. Adjectives modify (describe) nouns and pronouns. Since a noun is a person, place or thing, and since ‘a’ ‘an’ and ‘the’ (the articles) also function as adjectives, well, ‘all of the sudden’ just can’t work, because ‘the’ points the way to a noun, and remember, ‘sudden’ is an adjective. Instead of saying it all wrong, try the accepted (correct) way of saying something happened that was completely unexpected this way: “Suddenly, the car swerved into my lane…” or “All of a sudden, the car swerved…” (oooops! can’t do that either, can we? Though it does sound right.) Just remember, never, under any circumstances, say “all of the sudden…”

Unless everybody needs to shut up and never speak of the point again, (making everyone ‘mute’) remember that the irrelevant point is a MOOT one.

When you oversleep, or your alarm doesn’t go off when it’s supposed to, spare your boss the lame explanations concerning your tardiness to the office. Spare the boss some poorly expressed honesty too. See, you didn’t oversleep ‘on accident.’ For Pete’s sake — you overslept ‘accidentally.’ Or, your alarm was set, by accident, for 6:30 p.m. instead of the more appropriate a.m.

And, when all the practical matters have been covered, it’s appropriate to claim that, ‘for all intents and purposes,’ the conversation has concluded. I don’t know what in the HELL “intensive purposes are,” but I do know I rather intensely despise the misuse of the phrase.

See, friends don’t let friends misuse common phrases. Showing our ignorance is no way to win friends and influence people. If I weren’t careful, I’d close this post with something pithy like, ‘it’s a doggy-dog world out there!’  or ‘I’ve nipped this problem right in the butt!’  But then I’d need a friend who won’t let me misuse common phrases and show my ignorance.

Because, really.  Ignorance of this magnitude just can’t be tolerated.

…Ignore National Poetry Month!

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I just have to be a literature nerd for awhile. Sure, the expected advice would be “friends don’t let friends be nerds. Of ANY kind.” Frankly, that’s dreadful advice. I can’t get behind it. My profession won’t let me. My heart & mind won’t let me either. I love Jane Austen. I love CS Lewis. I love John Steinbeck. My thesis work, for cryin’ out loud, is in late Renaissance drama (Shakespeare et al, y’all). And so, when April rolls around, I get my literature nerd on. Why? Because April is National Poetry Month. (OH!……)

And so, I don’t want any of my friends here to miss out on the poetic fireworks going on at commonchapters, a little blog I nurse along when I’m not making public service announcements. 🙂 Seriously now. Friends don’t let friends ignore National Poetry Month.

You might have hated poetry in high school, but that doesn’t matter anymore. (and it doesn’t count!!!) If you love love, fear the unknown, marvel at the moon, hunger for beauty, wonder about life, then poetry is for you. If you like words, if you value wit, if you have a pulse, then poetry really is for you, because, well:

Poetry. It’s not just for nerds anymore.

Come and visit me at commonchapters. A poem a day. All April long. You’ll love it. Guaranteed.