Fat is a don't

I came across this nice article from Glamour magazine about "the woman on p. 194."

Basically, Glamour was doing an article "on feeling comfortable in your skin, and wanted a model who looked like she was."

The model in the photo they commissioned is plus-size model Lizzi Miller. Reader comments were raves:

"This beautiful woman has a real stomach and did I even see a few stretch marks? This is how my belly looks after giving birth to my two amazing kids! This photo made me want to shout from the rooftops."

The response was overwhelmingly positive, even by the editors:

So let's start off this week with something we can all get behind: a toast to the woman on p. 194, and to the spectacular sexiness of owning who you are. Trust me, Glamour's listening, and this only strengthens our commitment to celebrating all kinds of beauty.

Inspired, I started poking around on the site and remembered that, back in the days I used to subscribe (high school? college? something like that), I enjoyed the Dos and Don'ts feature, where they take clandestine photos on the street of looks both good and bad, obscuring the embarrassing fashion victims with black bars over their eyes.

Apparently, now you can upload your own surreptitious shots and rate and comment on others' contributions. Not sure which gallery to browse, I settled on "Worst Don'ts" and "Best Dos."

Let me offer you a couple screen shots of what I found:

Guess which is the do and which the don't. It's easy, folks — fat people shouldn't be allowed in public, and thin, young, pretty people are popular. I remember in the magazine version that the emphasis was on fashion faux pas, not just on what body shapes make people feel pukey or happy. There are a couple exceptions of making fun of specific features in the Don'ts, and there is a focus on skankiness, but...every single full-bodied shot is of someone who's overweight. There are women wearing very little fabric in the Dos, but that's allowed. Because, you know, fat people are gross. Gee, I'm so glad there are online galleries to point that out to me.

The more things change...

Photo copyright Walter Chin for Glamour magazine


A preview of my mystery novel

In writing news, I thought I'd bring you a very small sample of my mystery novel in progress, working title Poisoned, by God.

NaNoWriMo08If you're playing along at home, I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo08, so last November. I finished the second draft this spring. Steve read it for the first time at that point and gave me lots of good critiques. I intended to spend July finishing the third draft, but alas, we decided to buy a house instead. Stupid, stupid. So after we move, I will finish the third (final?) draft, have Steve read it again, plus some other beta testers, then do another draft or a final polishing, depending on critiques. And then it's out to agents, with fingers and toes crossed for good news.

Do let me know if you want to be a beta reader of my novel. Helpful qualities include the ability to read critically and offer constructive advice about plotting, characterization, theme, and/or details like whether I changed someone's haircolor or name halfway through. Also helpful would be a familiarity with the genre of mystery novels, particularly cozies, a la Agatha Christie or similar; having seen movie versions qualifies, as long as you enjoyed them. I mean, you don't have to be an expert — or even conversant — in the cozy genre, as long as you're willing to accept that there are conventions that fit the form and ask for clarification if needed rather than just deriding the conventions out of hand. If you want to do some homework, here are some of my contemporary faves that are similar in various ways: Jo Dereske, Janet Evanovich, Gillian Roberts. If you try them and find you detest light-hearted mysteries, probably don't bother reading this one. Because another helpful quality is not making me cry by saying my novel is utter tripe. That said, I will gratefully accept any helpful criticisms. Ask Steve — I was entirely courteous and appreciative of his suggestions. Oh, and if you're worried you'll you have to slog through the mystery genre's answer to War and Peace, it's only about 220 pages and it reads fast, because there's lots of dialogue, not to mention all that good old "who's going to be killed next" suspense. Steve got through it in a day or so, with ample bathroom and eating breaks.

So, here's the sample page. To give the basic background: Christine is the praise team leader at a Midwestern church, and a member of her praise team is killed during practice by a poisoned cough drop. Hilarity ensues.

I don't know if it's bad form to give out samples of an unpublished manuscript, but I like to live dangerously. Besides, it's mostly just to show you that the characters are funny, with little plot to distract you. Steve's favorite character is Rob, Christine's husband. Guess why.


Rob called from work while I was looking up the name of the poison online.

“I’m bored,” he said. “Talk to me.”

“How can you be bored at work? Aren’t you doing work?”

“I’m waiting for a meeting to start. I already went to the bathroom and got some animal crackers from the vending machine. I’ve run out of ways to amuse myself.”

“I’m glad to know I’m your last hope.” I got up and walked to our little one-butt-wide kitchen. Animal crackers didn’t sound half-bad.

“I figured you might have something to amuse me with.”

“How do you know I wasn’t hard at work editing?”

A sound suspiciously like a snort came over the line.

“Well, you’re not exactly Mr. Productivity yourself today,” I said. No animal crackers in the junk cupboard. I settled on Doritos.

“What are you crunching?” Rob asked.

I told him. “They’re Nacho cheesier.”

“Good idea,” he said. I heard a faint jingling. “I have just enough change left. Do you mind if I spend a Nevada quarter?”

I thought over our collection. “No, we have Nevada. It’s New Mexico I’ve been looking for.”

I heard the clanging of coins into the machine as Rob went after his prize. In between our crunches, I broke the bad news.

“Tammy died,” I said. Rob could handle blunt.

“Oh, no,” he said. “That’s too bad.”

“There’s more,” I said. “She was murdered.”

“Murdered,” Rob echoed. “Well, that’s not amusing, but it’s certainly intriguing. I’ve never known a murder victim before.”

“You couldn’t even remember who she was, so I don’t know that you can say you knew this one, either.”

Rob gave a verbal shrug.

“She was poisoned,” I added. I could hear Rob literally chewing things over. “Don’t you want to know how I found out?”

“I assume Barb called you,” he said after a swallow.

“Don’t assume,” I chided. “Barb’s left me in the lurch. It was a detective.”

Rob gave a little choke on the other end. “From the actual police?” he said. “Are you a suspect?” He sounded much too enthusiastic about the idea.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t think so. Or maybe we all are.”

“Did you ask for a lawyer?”

I gripped the handset tighter. “Should I have?”

“We don’t know any lawyers.”

“No, I know.”

“Murder.” Rob breathed out heavily.

“I know.” I hadn’t been able to concentrate on anything else all day. How could someone have been murdered, and right in front of me, too?

“Well, I have to go,” Rob said, suddenly brisk. “Our meeting is starting.”

“Bummer for you,” I said, snapping back to the immediate. “See you later.”

Rob tossed off a “later” and disconnected. I tongued the last of the orange crud off my fingers and tried to ignore the lure of crime solving via Google and get some work done.


So there you are. Intrigued? Want to read more? Sign up now to read the next draft!

Photo copyright Anna H-G via sxc.hu



Groucho Marx eyebrow glasses

At two years old, Corin recently discovered eyebrows. He reached his finger up one day and drew it across that hairy strip above his eye and then reached out again to brush over mine. His look was full of wonderment.

"Eyebrow," I told him, laughing at his happy concentration and the sheer absurdity of having two caterpillars of hair marching across our faces. "Eye-bow," he repeated, intent and delighted.

Eyebrows is Augenbrauen in German, which is such a fun word to say: Ow-gen-brow-en. It rhymes.

I've been able to give my son two ways to name that part of his body, but I hadn't give him any reason for their existence.

I started wondering what the evolutionary purpose of eyebrows is. I even bugged my sleeping cat by turning on the light and peering down into her face to see if she had any extra-thick hair ridge above her eyes. Nope. It's kind of the opposite, because it's actually sparser right around her eyes.

Then I thought: primates! I should see what other apes have. Nope. They have great big lowland gorillaridges, very Neanderthal and all that, but no extra hair up there.

So what do eyebrows do, other than to exist as a reason to pluck, or pierce, or dye?

Oh, beautiful interwebs, you never let me down.

HowStuffWorks in the saliently named article "Why do we have eyebrows?" explains that our mini hair strips keep sweat and rain out of our eyes by diverting drips out along the sides. This would have been an advantage for hunting prey – and for keeping away from predators!

If we didn't have eybrows, scientists postulate, we would have something else in their place, such as broader ridges like our chimp cousins, or maybe
super-furry faces like our cat friends. Or maybe we would make do by stapling real caterpillars to our foreheads.

Fortunately, we don't have to worry, because so far we've kept our fuzzy accouterments, the better to allow us to express ourselves. Although note from this, our most hilarious picture of Luna, that even eybrow-less animals can be quite expressive.

So there you have it, Corin. The wonder of eyebrows.

Groucho Marx glasses copyright scol22 via sxc.hu
Gorilla copyright Mike Harbison via sxc.hu


Waiting on a washer/dryer

You'd think I'd have bigger things to worry about, but one reason I want to get into that sweet new condo is the appliance hidden in the upstairs closet:

our very own washer/dryer.

Our first ever.

We've been using a laundry service since that fateful day when Corin was 9 weeks old and I dug into his laundry hamper for the first time since his birth and discovered that his poo-covered cloth diapers, onesies, and take-home outfit had mildewed. I bagged them up and contemplated trying to clean them in the portable washer I had to hook up to our kitchen sink and babysit throughout its wash cycle, then hang all the clothes to dry. Steve finally convinced me, a few weeks later, to toss the bag in the trash and call it a day.

I realized that, no, I could not do it all by myself. I couldn't even do it all with Steve. Not when I had a Corin in addition.

And so I turned to craigslist and found my answer. If I had a diaper service (and I had that now, too!), why not a laundry service for the big peeps as well?

All has been going relatively smoothly until the last couple weeks, when for some reason our laundry hasn't been picked up. It's been left there as a growing bag of our shame (dirty laundry, see?) for us to trip over and the landlady to reprove. She's always browbeating everyone into using the leased machines in the basement laundry room, or else the company will rescind the lease. I figure, Look, lady, it's your choice whether or not to provide laundry facilities, but you don't get to decide whether your renters use them. Still and all, I try to avoid her ire in general, so I've been trying to hide evidence of our easy fix.

basement laundry roomI hate basement laundry rooms. I hate hauling baskets, bruising my hip as I go, outside into the rain (often), down narrow stairs and through dark, fiddly hallways, having to wrench open heavy, locked fire doors and turn on timed lights on my way with my one semi-free hand. I hate perching a drink and a book to read on top of the laundry pile so I have something to do while waiting, because there's always waiting. When you're sharing one washer and one dryer with nine other units, you have to stay on top of things or risk having your clothes unceremoniously dumped out for you. You can't put a load in to wash and expect to stop by after dinner to transfer it. Speaking of after dinner, there are laundry-room hours, so you can't start loads after 9 p.m. I know there's some morning hour, too, but it never came up... I dislike having little control over how my clothes are washed and dryed, just a few standard settings that don't fit all contingencies. I hate having to scrounge up quarters. Ugh. Quarters. I would never let Steve spend them as change, because they each had to be saved. But it never worked. When a load costs minimum $2.50 in quarters, I always ended up having to make a trip to the bank or a surreptitious visit to the change machine at the laundromat down the street. I wasn't sure if I was allowed to use it, since it didn't actually make them any money and I wasn't using the machines there.

(Funny fact: I currently have two rolls of quarters from an ill-fated garage sale a couple years (!) ago. I keep meaning to turn them in for "real" money.)

I have never used the laundry room downstairs here. I am strangely proud of this fact. I want to continue to refuse, even if it makes my loved ones and me completely stinky.

But, the thing is, my parents are coming this weekend. There are limits to how disgusting I'll be when people are around to see. And smell.

So, I might have to give in if I can't get the keys to that condo. That condo and its private washer/dryer.

I don't know that I'll even like using a dedicated washer/dryer. It is, after all, still laundry. But it can't be worse than the basement laundry, right? And at least my clothes will get clean if I choose, rather than being in laundry-service limbo as they are right now.

Image of creepy basement laundry room that greatly resembles ours copyright
Anthony Smolenski of AntAesthetic Design via stock.xchng

Swing dress

Do I want a dress that converts into a swing?

Heck, yeah.

Says the designer, Rachel Griffin:

"The skirt ropes are indeed practical to toss anywhere. The two points of attachment—the rope to the skirt, and the skirt to the tree—use variations on a rock-climbing knot called the prusik, which simultaneously allows for adjustable swing height and strength. As such, you can tie it to anything from trees to scaffolding to architectural elements—anything with a horizontal beam strong enough to hold your weight."

Images courtesy CoolHunting


On not changing my name

I was researching the primary election endorsements (gotta fill out that ballot still...) when I stumbled upon this post on The Stranger's Slog:

"Changing Your Name When You Get Married," by Gillian Anderson

A survey reported that in couples who married last year, 88 percent of the women changed their names. (Even more frightening is another survey in which 71 percent of women think wives should take their husband's name and half of them want to legislate it!)

I'm not surprised that the number of women changing their names is so high, even though it's "a bit baffling," as Anderson puts it. I hung out with mostly feminists in college, even though it was a conservative evangelical bastion in the Midwest, so I figured I would be joined by my comrades in thumbing our nose at the patriarchy.

But, no. I'm the only one who kept her name at marriage among my college friends. I understand the reasons of one of my roommates — she hated her name and her father, so sure, let it die. But every last one of them blithely assuming the mantel of Mrs. Husband Name? I did not see that coming.

It doesn't surprise me anymore. I've noted a general trend toward conservativism in this next generation, the ones getting married right now and taking those surveys I referenced above. But even in my own generation (or maybe it's a half-generation, whatever — I mean, I'm not old enough to be a 20-year-old's mother — wait, I kind of am, but only theoretically — but, regardless, we're not really hanging with the same crowd, you dig?), I've noticed a kind of eh-so-what attitude toward feminism, a sense of taking women's equality (such as it is) for granted.

I can understand this. We're not fighting as hard as our parents' generation. I've been watching some vintage educational films in the last few days (what? isn't that what you do in your spare time?), and to borrow a phrase from the tobacco industry, which you know I love to do, we've come a long way, baby. So I can see why maybe people have gotten complacent. But it's still a little disturbing in its Stepford-wife-ness to see friend after friend in my peer circle marry and adopt her husband's name without question, with giddiness and no sense of feminist shame.

When Steve and I cat sat, we wondered if people would know we were married because of our different last names. Then we realized we needn't have worried. Almost every married couple we sat for had different last names. It was the funniest thing. I thought it must stem from a few reasons combined:

(1) We live in Seattle. Yea, Seattle, you crazy hippy-cradler, you!
(2) Married couples with different last names must have been attracted to our disparate handles.
(3) Most all of them were a decade or so older than we were.

See, it's #3 that I'd like to draw your attention to. I think maybe blatant feminism is dying out, or dying down at least, or taking a breather, or something.

Ah, well.

It's funny that I didn't even not change my name out of some rabid feminism. I consider myself a practical feminist. I think women are equal and deserve respect because they are, and they do. I don't hold truck with anyone who's unreasonable enough to think otherwise. And if that makes me a fire-breathing feminazi, then bring it on, says I. I don't really care what other people (read: sexists) think.

I actually was planning to change my name. I was sad about it, but resigned. I was very young, 22, and I didn't really think I had a choice, culturally speaking. Then Steve voiced his own opposition to the idea, saying he had fallen in love with Amanda Caldwell, and Amanda Caldwell was the gal (yes, he used that term) (not really, this was not 1956) he wanted to marry. I felt an enormous rush of relief. So, yes, feminist that I am, my future husband gave me the idea and permission to keep my own name. I do appreciate the irony.

Like I said, the idea was more practical and reasonable than anything else. I was Amanda Caldwell, had been for 22 years, and how bizarre to change it right then. Plus, all the paperwork! Oy.

Did it piss off my in-laws? Yes. Did they think it was all my doing? Probably. Did it befuddle my parents? Oh, I'm sure. Though they were pretty hands-off about the entire thing.* Did they think it was all Steve's fault? Hmm. Good question.

(*My parents keep pre-guessing crazy things I'm going to do and not being at all surprised when they happen, like when the idea of what kind of schooling our kids would have first came up and my dad said, "Oh, we just figured you would home school." And I thought, "Home schooling, eh? Good idea, Pops." Again, its not being 1956, I do not actually use the word "Pops.")

Here are some other frequently asked questions we get about our name choice:

1. Do people think you're not married?

Well, only people we don't know, as we always present ourselves as husband and wife within a few minutes of conversation. So strangers, I guess, don't know we're married when they look at our mailbox or snoop through our trash, but whatever. Funny story about the mail, actually: We talked with our mail deliverer at our former apartment all the time, because we received so many packages, but the conversations never did extend to introducing ourselves. When we were moving, we had a discussion about our forwarding orders — mine had been received, but Steve's was missing. He told us we could have submitted just one for the whole household, and we reminded him we had separate last names and the rules were one forwarding order per last name. Apparently this had been a burning question, because he burst out with, "You're married? And you have different last names?" Yes, we told him, surprised he hadn't guessed, since we'd been so dang domestic looking every time we answered the door and because, you know, I was obviously pregnant. He took in this new information, digesting the news that we had not been living in sin and cooking a bastard as he'd feared. He shook his head at our unconventionality and said, "I thought only people in England did that."

2. What about the kids?

What about them indeed? This goes along with question #1, because people wonder how you create a cohesive family unit with different names. How will people know which kids belong to which parents unless their names match? My thought is that plenty o' kids nowadays have different last names from their parents, for reasons often much sadder than ours. People get over it. Again, an introduction takes care of any awkwardness: "This is my child, So-and-so" usually clears it all right up. I think people just like the convenience of saying "Let's have the Van der Hoovendoovers over for dinner," or like seeing "Van der Hoovendoover Family" on a porch sign, but you know — deal.

With our particular kidlet, we have so far given him my name as his middle name and Steve's as his last. I've heard of some other routes: One is to make the last name hyphenated or simply super long. One is to take a completely new family name (Calsingh? Lanswell? Van der Hoovendoover?). One is to give some kids the mother's name and some the father's, often along gender lines. So, if we had a daughter, we could reverse the procedure we used for Corin. Since Steve's dad's the only one in the world who cares, but he really, really does care, whether the Lansingh name continues, we thought we'd give him an apoplexy if we didn't give our son that very rare last name. Caldwells, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen. Swing a cat and hit a hundred. (P.S. Don't really swing a cat. It's not nice. Besides, you might hit some Caldwells.)

3. Aren't you being an anti-feminist, carrying on the name given your father under patriarchal naming conventions?

Well, you're not going to take down the patriarchy in one generation. Give it time.

Yes, it's true that upon keeping my maiden name (and don't get me started on that terminology, and why there's no counterpart to it for men), I am actually keeping my father's name. It's the same name that my mother acquired when she married him, and the name they gave me in keeping with cultural traditions. But change has to start somewhere, right? I could have taken a completely new name, but I liked my given name, and I like my father. Or Steve and I could have crafted a name together. I think if we had gotten married later in life, or not had the Lansingh hopes and dreams resting upon our procreating possibilities, that might have been more of a consideration.

4. Don't you love and respect your husband?

Oh, gosh, no. We feminists are incapable of love or respect.

It's not that I get asked this one directly. It's that women imply it back to me in their reasons (excuses) for changing their own names. "Oh, I didn't mind taking Hubby's name at all. I just love him so much and was happy to be part of his family." You know, meaning I was the opposite. I'm not going to dignify this with any more of a response but to say that there are ways to love people that don't involve waiting in line at the DMV.

5. Do you think your (theoretical) daughter is going to keep her name upon marriage, or your son going to change his?

No one actually asks me this, but I'll answer it anyway.

Sadly, I have little hope for the next generation. See the polls at the start of this post.

And, by the by, if you're offended with any of the bluntness in this post and have made different decisions for yourself and want to ream me out, remember two things:

(1) It's supposed to be funny, which makes it all ok.
(2) I'm in the minority! You can't persecute me without being a total jerk.


Home-buying, sour home-buying

I had a small glimmer of hope yesterday afternoon that our home-buying process was resolving itself and that everything would more or less smoothly lurch to the closing on Friday.

That hope was dashed, as have been all my hopes so far.

We are once again in the midst of a hiccup. (Imagine that one for a minute. This hiccup kind of smells like Coca-Cola and Spaghetti-Os, I think.)

But our fortune from our Chinese takeout today reads, and I quote:

"Your home will be a great source of happiness."

Well, I hope so. I truly do hope so.


I'm awake, I'm awake

I keep doing this annoying thing where Corin takes so long to fall asleep when I'm putting him to bed that I just...close my eyes...just for a second, just to calm him, you know...zzzzzzz...

And then I wake up at 2:33 a.m. in the middle of a weird dream, disoriented, and stagger out to the living room to see Steve looking amused, and I haven't done anything I'd intended and am in that weird state of groggy and too well-napped to fall back asleep.

Also, I'm really thirsty, so I'm going to stay up a little longer to drink some more. (Not that kind of drinking. That would just be sad, all alone out on the glider here as I am.)

So I will bring you a bulleted list of random stories from the day, for your amusement, until I'm sleepy enough to toddle back off to bed.

  • We sold our baker's rack on craigslist today, and our portable dishwasher a few weeks back. There went half our counter space. I'm especially disoriented by the missing baker's rack, though, because it used to stand next to our fridge and would be where I'd rest stuff I'd taken out of the fridge until I was ready to retrieve them and move elsewhere. I keep pulling things out of the fridge, reaching out into the empty space and then pulling back and thinking, Hey, who took my baker's rack?
  • Our closing date is this Friday. I am too depressed to speculate whether our loan will be approved by our closing date.
  • Steve had this great idea to go to movies separately. It's like a date, but with no making out, and you don't have to pay for a sitter. Ok, it's not like a date. But you get to go to a movie, with no kid around! I got to take the first turn, to go see Funny People with a special coupon we had, and Steve will see it tomorrow (well, today now). He says we should both write a review and then later compare. For now, I will write my first take on the movie in code so that Steve can't see it. You can mouse over it to view:
  • I liked it.
  • More to follow. Anyway, back to my story. I thought, while at the theater, everyone must be looking at me and thinking, How sad that she's at the movies alone. And meanwhile, I was thinking, How awesome that I'm at the movies alone. It's all perspective, baby. I didn't even have to share my smuggled Nerds.
  • I think Smuggled Nerds would be a great name for a band.
  • When I got home, Steve & I discussed whether going to a movie together or separately was cheaper. Steve voted for together, because we save on gas, and when I wrote up there "pay for a sitter," I was joking, because we always "hire" Sharon and don't pay her at all. I countered that when we go together, though, that we're a bad influence on each other in terms of buying $8 of popcorn. I had to repeat my point, because Steve didn't hear me at first, and I used hand gestures between the two of us to illustrate the idea of "us together." Corin was sitting on Steve's lap on the couch. Corin immediately started pointing dramatically at me and wagging his finger around and babbling in a high-pitched voice, "Blah blah blah blah popcorn," or whatever passes for "blah blah blah" in his baby-talk syllables. Funniest imitation of me EVER.
Peace out. I'm off to brush my teeth.


Don't need no credit card to ride this train

So as not to spoil the surprise for Courtney, I won't post pictures of my hair until after I see her tonight.

I do intend to dye it light brown still (with perhaps a touch of turquoise — what?), but as long as I fried the heck out of it, I figured I might as well enjoy being a frizzy blonde for a little while. My dark roots are starting to grow in, and they're so short still that it looks like nothing so much as fungus, like I left my scalp a little too wet for too long.


But I will continue the hair saga with the tale of my recent purchase at Sally's Beauty Supply, and you'll see why I chose that blog post title. Though it's actually not that apropos, so really I chose it just to get that song stuck in your head.

I was flustered from the very beginning of my visit, because I had bought three things the time before that I needed to return. One was just a simple case of Oops-I-bought-the-wrong-thing, but two were failures in design and had broken on me when I tried to use them. I always feel a little sheepish returning something used and damaged, even if I'm sure the damage is not my fault.

Immediately the cashier, a big, burly dude (what you think of when you think of Sally's), followed me into the aisle and asked to have my bag up at the register, I guess so I couldn't shoplift. "Not that I think you're going to shoplift or anything," he said, confirming my suspicions that he did indeed suspect me. I started giving him the bag, hesitated, started pulling out my returns one at a time and explaining them, and then finished with, "But I need the bag. It's kind of my purse."

Yes, my old Sally's plastic bag had $80 in cash (Craigslist earnings) plus an endorsed check that were on their way to the bank, as well as my lipgloss and wallet and other assorted sundries. For I was wearing a skirt. And skirts are annoying in that they are, by and large, pocketless. And I couldn't find a purse. I'm girly enough to wear skirts but not girly enough to remember where my stash of handbags went to.

He accepted my demurring and my excuse for the mangled returns and turned to take them up to the register, then stoppd and asked me something. He was a mumbler. I'm never sure what to do with mumblers. I tend to try to guess what they're saying, which gets me in trouble. "I'm still looking," I guessed was an appropriate answer. He repeated his inquiry. "Do you want a coupon book?" Oh. All right, I suppose.

He nodded and turned out of the aisle, calling after me over his shoulder, "Do you have a license?"

I followed him toward the register. "Yes," I said, thinking my driver's license must be required to validate the returns. Then it clicked. A license to practice cosmetology. "Oh, no," I said.

He stopped and looked at me. What kind of fool doesn't know whether she's licensed or not?

He did an about face and handed me one of the plebeian coupon books from the rack near the door. "Here."

I took it and meekly resumed my shopping, thoroughly out of sorts by now. It didn't then help that every two and a half minutes for the rest of my ten minute sojourn in the store, one of the cashiers came by to ask if I needed help. I figured that was code for "What are you stuffing into that Sally's bag, you thief?"

And did I mention I had yellow hair through all this? That's enough to make any girl uneasy, but particularly in a beauty-supply store. I was advertising that I had no right to be buying beauty supplies, since I was clearly not making good use of them.

Finally, I selected my purchases, the ones that would hopefully turn my locks less goldi, and went up to the counter. Someone fell in line behind me immediately, so now I felt pressure to move through quickly.

The big, burly cashier began ringing up my new purchases with no sign of dealing with the exchanges. But whatever, I figured, I'd deal with it later. I offered my old bag for the new purchases, and his look showed he thought this was weird, but maybe it was just because I'd been using it as my purse. In an unasked-for attempt to prove my innocence, I was trying to open my bag enough to demonstrate that I had not shoplifted anything. I even rifled through it to make everything have its turn being displayed and ended up clunking my sunglasses case hard on the counter. Oh, shoot, that didn't sound like I didn't have anything substantial in here.

But now the cashier was distracting me by asking me about a Sally's discount card, because apparently the last cashier had given me the discount even though I hadn't paid to enter the club. The idea of the discount card intrigued me, so I tried to get information about it from him, but I guess he figured his duty was over in asking me about it. He seemed incommunicative and unwilling to have me fill out an application.

I was musing on this and the possible discount I was losing when he announced my total. I already had my credit card out and at the ready, the better not to hold up the person behind me, so I handed it off. Something was niggling in my brain, though.

"You have ID?" he said.

I nodded and knew that this time he meant my driver's license for real, so I started digging it out.

"I know it's only 50 cents," he continued, with a half-laugh, "but it's store policy."

Uh. Click, click. My mind interpreted his previous mumbles too late to do me any good. Forty-nine cents, he had said. My total, with the exchanges already factored in, was 49 cents.

And I had just paid with a credit card.

I must have seemed like a hardcore credit fan, or like I was so cash-poor that I didn't have even a couple quarters, never mind that I had $80 in twenties sitting in my bag, which I had on display on the counter.

That's the power of love, my friends. (See, I told you it wasn't apropos. But I do hope you'll be singing that all day.)

Photo copyright Lotus Head via sxc.hu

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