O Lord, Thank You for the complexity of Your creatures. It’s amazing how hordes of little cicadas know exactly when and where to show up every 17 years. OMG, I’m also very thankful they didn’t choose our campsite!
I’ve often attended Christian writers’ conferences with hundreds of participants. Attendees squish so close into hotel elevators that we could receive organ transplants by osmosis.
Such unsolicited togetherness recalls college days when other music students and I — considerably skinnier than now — packed into elevators like Pringles® into a can. We made room for tuba players. Once, we squeezed the string bass section in and dropped a floor.
Dormitory elevators also presented perils. Picture riding morning elevators with a thousand women, all having a bad hair day. Or sneaking to your room at 3 a.m., hoping to avoid trash can terrorists. These attackers prowled outside elevator doors with full cans of water, waiting to douse their victims.
As a child, though, I loved elevators. An early memory recalls a department store where the elevator operator exchanged pleasantries with me. Like a fairy godmother, she made the windowless little room rise as if it possessed wings.
I gasped, then giggled. Other nice people in the elevator laughed with me.
“Look at her eyes.” One gentleman sounded as if he wanted to borrow my joy.
But kids grow up. Eventually I, like other grown-ups, discovered official Elevator Etiquette, listed below:
- Never look other passengers in the eye or initiate friendly conversation. These will make the elevator drop.
- The person whose destination is the farthest must occupy the front. She is required to bring seven suitcases, a rolling office, and a large, predatory parrot on her shoulder.
- No elevator’s population should exceed that of Indianapolis.
- Smiling is restricted unless adults are accompanied by children.
- Lighted numbers must be scrutinized by all passengers. Otherwise, the elevator will drop.
- Passengers under age 12 are required by law to jump up and down, preferably while eating ice cream cones.
- Adults should not. But they may bring overflowing cups of beer.
- Follow posted emergency procedures — even if the fire alarm, gunshot or rattlesnake’s warning is only mimicked by a passenger’s cell phone ringtone.
- In a glass elevator, passengers must never face outward. Otherwise, atrium spectators will be denied a traveling view of their backs and butts.
Fortunately, most attendees of the aforementioned conferences break these rules. Though we compete for space, oxygen and publication of our writing, we smile a lot. We introduce ourselves: “Oh, so the elbow mutilating my right kidney belongs to you. Glad to meet you. Where are you from?”
We press buttons for others and hold our collective breath to accommodate new passengers. Twice, a fellow passenger took my heavy box of office folders, giving me a temporary, but much-needed, break.
Flouting Elevator Etiquette together helps make it an uplifting experience for all.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you like to ride elevators?
O Lord, Hubby donned a shirt this morning whose label implied he’d owned it since the early permanent-press era. Laundry instructions: “Tumble dry. Hang on a hanger. No starch.” OMG, that’s a misprint, right? The pictures lie, too, because the shirt can’t be that old!
We can’t be that old, either. …
My husband and I walk after supper for good reasons. First, burgeoning trees and flowers replenish the famine of beauty we suffered during the gloom of early spring. I love the scent of cut grass — if someone else mows.
Second, walks grow relationships, including Hubby’s and mine. Our eyes and fingers are not glued to screens. Instead, we grow attached to us.
Third, we also greet neighbors, people who eat, sleep, work, play and worship within a stone’s throw. Yet, we rarely see them during winter. God created spring to lure us from it’s-all-about-me caves.
If we must mention exercise (sigh), walking qualifies. I’d rather walk than jog, run or sumo wrestle.
We take walks for good reasons, you understand.
Not to buy ice cream.
Temptation lurks in every springlike Eden. In our town, no conniving snake persuades us to stray from the straight and narrow. Instead, a legendary drive-in presents a menu of 100 ice cream sundaes, including my nemesis, the Moose Tracks.
Its name, which evokes somewhat unpleasant images, should ruin appetites.
The sundae’s frozen yogurt initially hooked me. Yogurt is healthy, I rationalized. Surely, it sucks the calories and cholesterol from the accompanying chopped Reese’s Cups, warm spoonfuls of peanut butter and globs of hot fudge.
I have successfully battled such enticements elsewhere.
But this drive-in is located a few blocks from my house.
When Hubby suggests we walk north, not east, I breathe a sigh of relief. We head north to homes and parks graced with newly planted petunias and geraniums. North past the grade school, where homework escapees flip on monkey bars. Past baseball diamonds where miniature players sport mitts bigger than they. North away from the drive-in.
The sunset throws a feast of sherbet colors in the west … did I say “feast”? And “sherbet”?
At town’s edge, Hubby halts. “Where to now?”
He should know better than to ask. Because I always tell the truth. At least, part of it. “Let’s take Main Street. I’ll bet the flowers are gorgeous.”
They don’t disappoint. Fragrant honeysuckle intoxicates us. Fluffy peonies beckon, and brilliant blue, purple and yellow pansies pour from flowerpots. Somebody tilled his garden, a field of moist chocolate fudge … did I say “chocolate”? Whipped cream clouds swirl in the golden peanut-butter sky. …
We find ourselves at the drive-in.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite ice cream treat — er, walk?
O Lord, even in my empty nest, I find working at home a challenge. But, OMG, please give my daughter and other parents braving the joys of computer-savvy children the courage to carry on. Help the kids survive, too.
Did your parents insist on holding your hand?
At age three, I declared my independence. Yanking my hand from Mommy’s, I zipped into a busy street. After that, she chained me to her.
Holding hands took on different dimensions when I entered fifth grade. In 1964, The Beatles had serenaded the world with “I wanna hold your hand!” Some classmates dared embrace the lyrics. Cool boys and girls sat in the back of the bus, (gasp!) holding hands.
I wasn’t cool.
A late-blooming teen, I continued to observe friends holding hands at ball games and parties. Eventually, at a roller rink, I entered that mysterious world where a touch could electrify an entire nervous system — making me so nervous, I tripped and nearly crippled my skating partner for life.
Dangerous business, holding hands.
When a super-shy guy asked me out, I figured that after dating six months, we might hold hands. During the romantic play, though, his fingers found mine. Electricity! Four years later, we held hands as we said wedding vows.
When did hand-holding become another memory snapshot in our wedding album? Hubby’s 24/7 medical career often kept us apart. Our outnumbered hands constantly clasped six little ones, protecting them. Perhaps we kept the chiseled-in-wedding-ring commandment: Never let anyone know you like each other. Especially your kids. And God forbid you hold hands at church.
Our children began to explore college possibilities. Hubby kept busy as ever, caring for patients. I was writing and going to school. We could run in circles that never touched until our 50th anniversary.
Was that right?
One evening, I said to Hubby, “Let’s go for a walk.”
“It doesn’t matter. Just a walk. Together.” Then, I dropped the bomb: “I want to hold your hand.”
“Huh?” A walk without a clear destination? Holding hands, when we’d been married two decades?
He cooperated, though his narrow-eyed gaze said he suspected a woman-trap.
Not the walk I had in mind.
Despite un-movie results, I asked him again.
The second experiment went better. He even said, “This is kind of nice.” And after our third stroll, “This was a good idea.”
The added bonus: We embarrassed our children.
Years later, we continue hand-holding walks. We don’t count steps. We don’t measure our heartbeats — we share them. Sometimes we, er, discuss things. We laugh.
College students alternate incredulous looks (“Old people like each other?”) and the Lord-bless-’em gazes they’d expect from us.
I always was a rebel.
Unlike my three-year-old self, though, I don’t want to declare my independence.
I always wanna hold your hand, babe.
I never wanna let go.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: When did you and your spouse last hold hands?
O Lord, Thank You for the means to buy, for strength to plant and grow the beautiful shrubs and flowers You designed. But given our aching backs, muscles, and bank balance, sometimes we wonder: Is creating curb appeal for Bambi worth it?
Were you one of those weird kids who did not like pizza? I was.
Known during that era as pizza pie, even the concept sounded odd. “Pie” translated to my mother’s deep-dish peach masterpieces, topped with ice cream. Crust topped by tomato sauce and cheese? Too weird to imagine, as well as vaguely healthy, another strike against it.
Pizza rarely frequented the truck stops and drive-ins where our family ate. Instead, it was sold at pizza parlors. I associated parlors with scratchy “company” clothes and sitting still. Who wanted anything to do with a parlor?
My mother attempted to introduce pizza as a lunch alternative. She baked the cheap boxed kind, whose taste rivaled that of its container. Pepperoni cost too much, as did most other toppings, so she covered pizzas with nutritious, inexpensive onions. Onions! Yuck.
I clung to my dislike until my teens. Unaware that no sleepover achieves official status without pizza, I accepted an invitation to one. Since no onions desecrated the pizza’s surface, I tasted a slice. To my amazement, I liked it. Sort of. Enough that thereafter, when my group ordered pizza, I could participate with passable enthusiasm and, thus, be accepted within the caste.
When my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I discovered deep-dish pizza during college, however, my reticence disappeared forever. We later passed on our pizza passion to our children. Also blessed with our penchant for reading, they raked in hundreds of free-pizza coupons.
If such rewards had been offered when I was a child, I would have kept them (our family never tossed anything free), piling up pizza credits that would have financed my addiction throughout adulthood.
But enough of lifelong regrets. What toppings do you like on your pizza?
I lean toward veggies, mostly for their rationalization value. Meat provides no such benefit. Also, if a diner samples international pizza offerings, she may encounter more protein adventures than she thought possible.
For example, in Japan, she might find eel pizza. In international competition, Finnish chefs baked smoked reindeer pizza, defeating the Italians. Pizza topped by haggis — a blend of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs — is dear to the hearts and stomachs of Scottish diners. Russians are fond of mockba, a mixture of sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon, and onion on their pizza. Consuming this digestive bomb, no wonder Russians cannot get along with their neighbors.
However, a Swiss chef tops all — or did, before authorities banned his creations from public consumption. He sprinkled spiders, scorpions and snakes on his pizzas, claiming small amounts of venom cause no harm and may even cure arachnophobia.
I’ll stick with veggies and keep my arachnophobia, thank you very much.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite pizza?
OMG, I suppose it doesn’t do any good to pretend I didn’t lick the brownie bowl? (Or, um … eat half the pan?)