My house was filled with estrogen this weekend as I hosted a girls’ weekend get-away for my closest friends.  As promised there was a lot of laughter, some booze and a stirrup pants sighting at the mall.  Bonus activities included an impromptu fashion show in my living room and laughing at old pictures that I didn’t realize were on my friend’s facebook account (thanks, Erin.).  God, it’s good to be a girl.

Once the party was over and everyone had packed up and started on their treks back home, I hunkered down with my laptop and told myself I was going to figure out this coupon clipping craze.  This can’t be hard.  I’ve never won at Monopoly, but I have kicked ass in Candy Land.  So, I’m golden, right?

I was in Walmart last week stocking up on essentials for the coming girls’ weekend frivolity when I passed this woman who was thumbing through a large zippered binder full of coupons.  They were organized in these plastic pockets, just like the ones my brother used to stash his basketball cards in, which, by the way, he would not let me touch.  This may have something to do with some G I Joes I buried in the front yard.  I stopped beside her and said, “I think you might be my hero.”  We talked for about 15 minutes.  She explained her strategies to me, most of which I have already forgotten probably due to some episodes of Housewives of NY.  Those women are killing my brain cells. 

I watched my hero flip through her binder showing me how to organize by store (she goes to at least two different grocery stores depending on the deals) and then by item.  She looked at my cart (Embarrassing!  I didn’t have a chance to explain to her that I don’t usually by four different kinds of bread or two tubs of sour cream at a time or drink that much beer by myself) and she noticed my two boxes of Suddenly Salad (Oh my gosh!  This salad is so sudden.) and instantly knew that she had a coupon for fifty cents off two boxes of Suddenly Salad and gave it to me.  Did I mention that she had a small child with her?  How did she remember that coupon existed?  Then, she wrote down two sites (here and here) for me to visit for more info on clipping coupons.  I think that if I had invited her to come to my house and show me how to put a coupon binder together, she would have come and brought snacks – free snacks that she bought by combining coupons and sales deals. 

But I did not invite her, so here I sit on my own visiting these sites she wrote down for me and trying not to get distracted by Bejeweled Blitz or online Scrabble.  It’s just that I was never good at math and I loathed word problems.  And these sites, while they do offer a great deal of information, do not offer step-by-step, outlined, color-coded instructions on how to get the most out of clipping.  I would even settle for old school clip-art hieroglyphics because let’s face it.  I’m a visual learner.  All these words.  Blah blah blah coupons blah blah manufacturer blah blah double blah blah stock piling (should I be worried?) blah blah it’s so simple.  Kiss my fanny.  It’s not simple.  It’s panic-inducing.  Do they make coupons for Zoloft?

The thing is, I’m sure there is a justifiable savings for all this work.  I just wish I could download a manual directly to my brain or hire someone to shop with me and show me the ropes. OOh, or hire a personal shopper AND a personal coupon clipper.  If I won the lottery, I wouldn’t have to use the coupons at all. 

I wonder if we have any booze left…

One of the members of my writing group wrote a personal essay about taking her 85 year old mother bra shopping.  What an experience.  Can you imagine?  It was a great topic and got me thinking about a bra fitting my mother made me go to when I was 12.

“Mom!  Close the door!”

“Oh, please.  Nobody’s paying you any attention.”

Did anybody else’s mother do this?  Just pull open a dressing room door or jerk open a curtain without any pause to see if you’re dressed?  Oh, and then invite in a stranger to feel you up?  Not only was I 12 with boobs bigger than my classmates, but I also had hips and was at least two inches taller than my male counterparts.  It was awkward being 12.  My mother’s solution to my “boob problem” was taking me to Belk’s annual bra fitting.  Really?  Is it really necessary for a stranger to see me topless?  How hard is it to pick out a bra anyway? 

I remember standing in front of the dressing room mirror waiting for my mother and the bra consultant  to bring me the appropriate selection of underwires, seamless shapes, and double clasps.

I hope at least one has butterflies on it.

And then I realized I hadn’t shaved my armpits.  And it was quite possible that I’d forgotten to put on deodorant.  Yep, no deodorant.  Shaving and wearing deodorant were still new tasks that I sometimes forgot.  I was also not good at brushing my hair, but that’s another story.

Oh, no.  What if she gets stabbed by my pokey pit?  I wonder if anyone else can smell that?  I want to go home.

Before I had a chance to throw my floral polo over my head, my mother flung open the door and she and the consultant entered the room.  So much for my escape.  I covered myself with my polo.  I mean, could we sit down and have some cookies, get to know each other before I show you my rack?

“Alissa, this nice lady is going to measure your bust to make sure we’ve picked out the right size. “

The consultant pulled out her measuring tape and asked me to put my hands on my hips.

EEEEEK!!!! POKEY POKE POKE POKEY AND NERVOUS SMELLS…GAH

And just like that she was done measuring.  And I was thinking we were done.  Nope.  Next thing I knew she was wrapping me up in a bra and instructing me on the proper way to wear one.

“You’ve got to get in there and situate them.  Bend over and pull them up and over and into the cups.”

I got lost in the middle of word problems in my math class and this lady wanted me to remember how to navigate the proper steps to putting on a bra. 

The first couple of bras didn’t work.  They were uncomfortable, they were too pointy, they were too grown up.  Finally, we found one.  I didn’t look like a tramp.  I wasn’t lopsided.  I was held in place by an off-white, seamless, slightly padded underthing.  And even though it didn’t have butterflies on it, it did, somehow make me feel a little better.  Even though I had five o’clock shadow under my arms and no one wanted to stand down wind of me, I felt a twinge of confidence.  Of course, that could have just been the AC kicking on.

Do not, whatever you do, do NOT NOT NOT piss off the nurse with the giant needle.  Let’s start here: My medical history involves a few fainting spells.  My mother would correct me by saying, “Those weren’t ‘spells’. You dropping to the ground like someone had suddenly ripped out all of your bones and replaced them with packing peanuts, white as a ghost is not a ‘spell’.”  Duly noted, Mother.  It would happen occasionally, mostly spurred on by some sort of pain.  The first time I remember fainting, I was in the line for the water fountain in preschool.  I was probably four years old.  I tripped on a piece of upturned carpet and my chin broke my fall.  After getting up I fell again, this time out cold.  Awesome.  Way to make the cute boy notice you.  Oh, well. He was focusing on some other four year old – a hussy whose mother hadn’t made her wear the hood on her jacket.  There was also a boy Henry who made fun of my hair.  That has nothing to do with my fainting.  Henry, I just want you to know that I still remember.

I fainted in a Wendy’s once, too.  This one…I can’t remember if there was pain.  I think maybe I was just hungry?  Please.  Like the idea of a juicy hamburger and a frosty has never made you a little light-headed.  I’m sure, if this were to occur today, my older brother would this time choose to catch me instead of moving out of the way and letting me fall to the floor.  Sure of it.  And the other times, well, I was very sick with chickenpox, had an ingrown toenail (Hi, my name is Alissa.  Nice to meet you.  I will now tell you personal tidbits that will make you want to vomit that burrito you just ate on your lunch break.  Thanks for stopping by!)and, oh yes, had my blood drawn.

Which brings us to Angry Nurse.  I had a routine appointment the other day.  I knew I was scheduled for blood work, so I made sure to hype myself up.  Guess what?  I’m a grown woman now. I can totally handle this. Needles are fun – in a non-druggy kind of way.  No fainting from this girl!  EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE FINE.  And the truth is it’s not the needle.  It’s the fear of looking like a peanut packed ghost-idiot on the floor of the lab.  I made sure to drink a lot of water before the appointment because I was once told that my veins are limpy (Yeah? Well, you’re a whore, so there you go.) and extra hydration can help plump them up.  I wish this also worked for boobs.  I had a positive attitude and felt pretty plumped up.

ENTER ANGRY NURSE STAGE RIGHT.

ANGRY: You can sit right there.

ME: Oh, great.  Thanks.

ANGRY: Name?

ME: Alissa Miles

ANGRY: Birthdate?

ME: 9-17-82

ANGRY: Which arm?

ME: Oh, uh.  My left, I guess.  I’m a righty…so, my left.

ANGRY: (snarl) Put your hand out.  No, like this.  And squeeze this ball.

ME: Puppies.

ANGRY: ?

Squeeze squeeze slap slap prod prod.

ME: Your scrubs.  They have puppies on them.  Cute.

Squeeze squeeze slap slap prod prod.

ANGRY: Your veins are worthless.

ME: But I drank like a gallon of water.

ANGRY: Really?

ME: Well, not really a gallon.  But a lot.

ANGRY: Doesn’t look like it.

ME: (inner thoughts)What? I’m lying here? I just gave you the clearest pee sample in the history of pee samples and I’m lying? You could drink that, dammit. (To ANGRY) Perhaps you could try my right arm?

ANGRY: grumble grumble

Squeeze squeeze slap slap prod prod. 

ME: Looks like we’ve got a winner.

ANGRY: Yeah. (inner thoughts) And now I will take all of your blood because you seem to be a smart ass and way too happy and because I am ANGRY and stabbing people with needles is the only thing that makes my life worth living and I will never crack a smile or pretend to be happy. I prefer to scowl and share my displeasure with the world.   I wear these puppy scrubs to remind me how much I hate puppies and want to drown them in vats of hot oil.

Several vials of blood later, I made it out of the lab alive and conscious (and possibly a couple of pounds lighter – how much does blood weigh?), which only proves to my mother that I don’t need to lie down every time I pluck my eyebrows.  I CAN handle pain and not faint.

Instead of complaining about the neighbor kid’s propensity to ring your door bell every three seconds until you answer it just to take a second and tell you Good Morning and did you forget to mention that this occurs every morning.  At 7AM. Instead of talking about his creepy eyes and weird deep voice, a voice way too smoky for a ten year old, instead of going over again this small when-he-grows-up-unsuspecting-people-will-die-by-his-hands kid, instead of wondering if he is – right now – going through your underwear drawer or leaving dead mice in your bed or licking all of your spoons or using your toothpaste as hair gel, maybe on your next car trip you should try to come up with your own vanity plates.  Here are a few of mine:

4GOT2P   Hold it.

HAV2RUN    No, you don’t.  No one HAS to.

LUV4MEN   Love for men or love 4 men?

CRAKWAK  It IS whack

BAILMNY    Whose?  Yours?

VNARIAL    Pilot’s car

MY BOAT  No, sorry.  It’s a car.

DNTH8ME  Oh, but we do.

9MNS NO   No also means No in Spanish.

 P NSCAR    …..

SHONUFF  Damn straight!

FRTCAKE  I know you are but what am I?

GNNUTTY  Yes, you have!  Now, brake before the edge of that cliff!

JST FRTD  Ugh.  Roll down the windows, please.

26Y2BL8   The hot have no time table.

M84LIFE   The car, not your wife.

HAAAHAA   Hahahahaha!

2NDFACE   Okay, but how many butts is that?

This weekend, if your grandmother tells you she has an egg hunt planned for you and your boyfriend, don’t believe her.  She’s just lost her dentures again and is going to make you find them.   Your little cousin will bite the ears off the chocolate bunnies and then place them back in the centerpieces, one on top of the other so that it appears they’re having bunny sex.  Your Dad will screw up the prayer again and his sister’s eyes will shoot death rays because he forgot to ask God to bless her 17 year old pug named “Lancelot”, who by the way, is having trouble breathing through his bunny costume.  Your mother will bring up homosexuality as she passes the mashed potatoes saying, “Well, if one man wants to make love to another man…well, I just don’t see how that’s any of my business.” To which, your grandfather will choke on the ham and yell, “Jesus Christ!  It’s Easter!  Can’t we talk about something else?” And you will decide that’s the perfect moment to tell your family you’re pregnant.  

If you do end up sitting around a table poking your casserole this weekend wondering how you could be related to these clowns, I suggest you do what I’ve been doing and try to find out.

Here’s what it’s like to research your ancestry:

      1.   You find out you had a great-aunt who married her first cousin and they had a kid who they named “Ralph.”  Then, she divorces her first cousin and marries her neighbor and they have a kid who they name….”Ralph.” 

      2.   Your father’s great-great uncle was a mime.  And now your father thinks he’s got talent.

      3.   You’re 1/16th Cherokee and you have no way of using that to your advantage.

      4.   It’s quite possible that your grandfather was adopted and he doesn’t know.  To tell or not to tell?

      5.   Your grandmother’s sister fell in love with a prison-inmate.  The inmate fell in love with his cell-mate.  She never got over it.

      6.   Your great-great grandmother was a pioneer for women.  She was an explorer in the jungles of South America.  It all sounds great until you find the picture of her holding someone’s severed head.

     7.   Hey!  Your mom’s cousin, the one they all assumed had died after becoming homeless and hooked on meth is actually that guy that invented those super-soak towels that you secretly want to buy.  He’s rich.  You’re not.

     8.   Going way back, you find evidence proving you’re royalty.  Your father’s family has roots in France and Germany.  It appears you are a direct descendant of Charles le Gros!  Dammit.  When translated, that means “Charles The Fat.” 

    9.   Your uncle’s birth certificate lists his name as “Wily” instead of “Willy.”  You start calling him “The Coyote.”

  10.   Your mother takes this as an opportunity to tell you how you were conceived.  You can’t remember the whole story because you started taking shots of tequila every time she said the word “penis.”  There may have been some mention of cheese cloth.  You’re not sure.

Maybe you should skip the family get-together and go see a movie instead.

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© Alissa C. Miles and "And So They Did...", 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material including pictures from posts and/or other pages without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alissa C. Miles and "And So They Did..." with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Basically, don't steal my stuff. Thanks. -A.

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