I’m not making fun of LuLaRoe, I’m making fun of my ADHD, anxiety, and inability to follow simple directions. Please no hate messages! I’m really looking forward to slipping on some TC’s in the near future. XOXO PC
Hi! I’m Paulina. I’m not sure how many anonymous notes you left today, so let me describe myself to you. I was the tall blonde in a navy top pushing my pug in a shopping cart. I don’t know what you look like because you waited to drop the note when I was looking down at the card reader. By the time I signed and looked up, you were long gone.
At first, I was confused by what it was, since I was minding my own business in a crowded Target checkout lane. But then I saw the handwriting and the first few words about “Pets and Therapy Dogs,” and immediately realized what I was dealing with.
I looked up at the cashier and said, “It looks like I was just given an anonymous note.”
She didn’t understand “I thought that was your friend or something,”
‘NOPE! I just moved here! Don’t have any friends yet. Do you want to be my friend?’ I screamed inside my head, but on the outside I just shrugged, and left the note sitting there.
There was a lot of stuff going on in my head as I loaded up my bags, took the elevator down to the parking garage, and loaded up my car. Did I do something wrong? Should I have read that note? What if it wasn’t a mean note? Who the heck was that? Are they following me now? Why didn’t they just say something?
I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t hurt you or anyone else. You saw me with a dog wearing a backpack (with whipped cream on his whiskers from the puppuchino he licked up at Starbucks) and you made assumptions about me.
I can’t say what those assumptions were because I didn’t read it. Just like America doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, I don’t waste my time on passive aggressive peace stealers (except to write blog posts about them).
If you’d used the time it took you to find paper and a pen and write me that note to talk to me, who knows what cool things would have happened. I was waiting in line for at least 10 minutes; you had plenty of chances to say ‘Hi.’
I can tell you’re observant! Did you also see the woman and small child that cut in front of me in line? Did you write them a note too, or does that not qualify? Did you notice that I didn’t get mad, or even roll my eyes at them? I figured they made an honest mistake and it wouldn’t hurt anything to let them go ahead of me. She wasn’t hurting anyone, and probably only set me back an extra 2-3 minutes.
Also, did you give notes to all the people who had their dogs in Target? There were a lot because they ALLOW dogs at this Target. But maybe that’s beside the point.
You don’t know me. You don’t know my story or my situation, just like I don’t know other people’s stories and situations. That’s why I attempt to be kind to people. It’s not always easy, and sometime, like you, I fail.
Maybe I’m failing now and making too many assumptions about you. Again, I didn’t read the note so I don’t know what was in it. Maybe the note had a recipe for dog treats, or a map of the best dog parks, or even an invitation to a puppy play date…but I doubt it.
I know I’m failing at being kind when I say I hope you were watching me after you dropped that note. I hope you saw me look at it without reading it, walk away without taking it. I hope you felt as frustrated as I did that someone took the time to write you a 2-page letter instead of just speaking to you like a person.
And if by some crazy chance you DO find this, I’M ALL EARS! I’m happy to talk to you face to face about whatever you want to talk about.
The bad news is you still got to me. The good news is we both get to start over again tomorrow with a relatively clean slate. I’ll try harder to be kind, and I hope you will too.
When shopping for Thanksgiving dinner in a new city turns into Medieval Warfare
As a recent southern transplant in New York City, and my first holiday away from my family, I took it easy on myself and ordered a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for my boyfriend and I. A few days later, a friend invited us to her home for dinner, and we decided to combine store-bought dishes with a couple homemade ones. I wanted to bring my favorite sweet potato casserole, and she offered to cook the turkey. With it being too late to change my order, I figured there was no harm in having a spare turkey around.
On Thanksgiving morning, I rolled myself out of bed to stand outside my local version of a supermarket. I went up to a semi truck being unloading of boxes labeled “fairway catering.” I asked the woman in front of me if this was the line for Thanksgiving and she nodded. There was a table set up between the line and the truck, but no one manning it. Everyone in line had their reservation confirmation pulled up on their iPhones as proof of their purchase.
We waited for the employee to return when it occurred to me how weird it was that I was living in New York City, waiting to buy my dinner off the back of a truck, when Al Franken walked past me. I squinted at the comedian turned Minnesota Senator wearing a long camel coat, scarf and round spectacles. Hmm, he must live around here, I thought coolly, since I’m a local, and don’t freak out on my famous neighbors. If anyone around noticed him, they didn’t let on, but he was probably walking home from the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade that started just a few blocks away.
The guy in charge of doling out the contents of the truck finally came back from break, and I was first in line. I read him my confirmation number, and without even looking down at his list he said, “You gotta go inside to the meat department for that.”
“Huh? “ I asked, wondering why is my turkey inside the store and not on this shady truck? I walked toward the door to brace myself for the crowd inside. Fairway on the upper west side is a treacherous place any day of the week, but on this day it was kill or be killed. Everyone knew it. It was the battlefield that lay between my thanksgiving meal and me.
Blocking the entrance, on the front lines, are the old ladies. They come shopping everyday and bring their own rolly-carts to use as walkers. If you get stuck behind even one, you’re done. They march at a dangerously slow pace, making you an easy target for an airstrike. I brought my own rolly-cart, so I used it to my advantage. With one fell swoop, I swung open my rolly-cart and spread it in all its 4-wheel glory. I placed my purse inside to allow for unconstrained movement. My armor of wintery layers protected me from a strike, but made it harder to maneuver. I pushed through, getting inside the store, but had to watch my back for those behind me pushing their way inside.
I swiped a bag of chopped pecans off an end cap before getting cut off by a woman pushing a triplets stroller. Mommy Cunts are the next line of defense. They are the sharply brilliant women who use their military minds disciplining their kids instead of running corporations. You don’t want to get between them and a jar of Justin’s almond butter. They’re always on the defense and ready to strike. I’d never get past them, too risky for this mission. I decided to go around the perimeter of the store to get to the meat department. There would be fewer Mommy Cunts over there, because they buy all their food upstairs, in the organic section. I just had to steer clear of the line for the elevator where they gather.
Over at the cheese section, there was just a young couple arguing about whether they needed fancy cheese for their guests. I slipped by undetected. In the hot foods section, the old ladies were distracted with filling their rolly-carts with pre-made dishes, and I negotiated my way through their horde undisturbed. Finally, at the meat department, chaos ensued. I attempted and failed to make eye contact with anyone behind the counter when I spotted a confused looking young man cowering behind a digital scale. Using my most Mommy Cunt-ish voice, I said “Hello. I was told at the catering truck to come back here for my order.” I presented my phone so he could check my confirmation number.
He replied, “you have to go talk to the manager up front.”
Up front? That was a suicide mission. I barely made it to the meat department with my head, and was now being sent on a wild goose chase through an active war zone. Determined to see this through, I turned back to the field, but this time, instead of pulling my cart behind me, I pushed it from behind to make way through the store like the cattle prod on the front of a locomotive.
Staying low to communicate with the stock boys in the trenches, navigating through the produce section, asking every one I passed, “Manager?” Each of them silently pointed the way, but the last one told me the person I was seeking would be at the front of the store past checkout, AKA enemy headquarters. This could be a trap, set up by Fairway’s intelligence, to lure me into the open, where artillery could light me up. Or maybe it was the truth.
The path through the store to the checkout lanes was packed tight. No amount of pardon me’s or get outta my way’s could get me through that cluster. It wouldn’t work.
Instead I made a b-line for the front doors and went back out onto the sidewalk where it all began, then made another sharp turn into the exit doors. I bypassed the entire line to get to the commander, finally making it to the far corner, headquarters of operations. I explained to the woman who addressed herself as supervisor that I needed my order. She tried to brush me off saying, “You have to go to the trucks,” when I finally cut her off.
“I’ve been to the truck. I’ve been to the meat department; I came to talk to you.”
She cut her eyes at me, then responded, “The woman you want to talk to is over there,” pointing to ground zero, the center of the chaos.
“I’ll never make it over there. She has to come to me.” The supervisor nodded and waved her over. It took a few minutes, but she made it, the first person to give me their full attention.
I explained the story again, handed over my phone for her inspection, when she started the interrogation. “How did you order? Have you already paid? Did you get catering?”
I had to stop her and say sharply, “I just ordered online, I don’t know anymore than you do.” With that she softened.
“We take orders for Thanksgiving three different ways.”
“I just went online and ordered. I haven’t paid yet, but I will. I’m not trying to pull anything.”
“If you ordered online, your food will be on the truck outside.”
“I went to the truck. They sent me to the meat department, who sent me to you.”
“There’s two different trucks outside, which one did you go to?”
“I’m supposed to know that? I went to the truck handing out turkeys.”-“Ok, I’ll take you out there.” She walked me out; talked to the first guy she saw, he nodded, and she came back and said they had my food. Finally.
“They need to see your phone to put your order together.”
“Sure.” I handed over my yellow Kate Spade case reading “that’s bananas” to a large work gloved hand.
The manager came over to me, “I’ll grab your order, just go wait over by the register.”
“But I have other stuff to get!” I whined.
“It’s ok. Go grab your stuff, and then come find me. You can skip the line.”
I felt that strange feeling when you get yourself all riled up, and then the conflict is resolved. You were ready for a fight to the death, but then they yielded, and you won without bloodshed. But you were ready to shed blood.
“Thank you” I responded meekly as she walked off to go put out a dozen more fires that started since our encounter. I started to walk back into the store, to find the other few things on my list, when I remembered my phone back in the refrigerated truck. Could I live without it? Was my iPhone just another casualty of war? No, not today.
I went back for it just as the same man leaned down and said, “here’s your phone, ma’am, sorry about all that.” That’s when I remembered what it was like to work in the service industry, and how easily I could find myself working in it again. How you’re carrying out orders by some boss who rules off the battlefield. He’s enjoying his thanksgiving at home with his family while you peddle his wares for time and a half. I imagine the employees at a high-end grocery store have been talked at and down to five ways from Sunday. I’m sure they could handle whatever tantrum I was having, but I didn’t want to be just another entitled customer who throws a fit when we don’t carry their particular brand of gluten free gluten.
I decided to try to work with them instead of against them. I went into stealth mode, sliced into the entrance again, and yelled to no one in particular, “Where’s flour and sugar?”
“Aisle 9,” a voice behind me answered.
Aisle 9, just get to aisle 9. As if in a blackout, I sliced through every man woman and child in my path. I heard a baby crying near the seafood counter, and empathized with it rather than cursing it. One more right turn and I was on aisle 9. I scanned the shelves and saw the sundries I needed were on the opposite end. Of course they were. I got behind my shield, I mean, rolly-cart, and zigzagged through the narrow aisle. There was a woman with a shopping cart blocking the tiny baking section. The pallets of 5 and 10-pound bags of flour and sugar I was used to seeing in suburbia were replaced with neat rows of boxed ingredients fitting for miniature Manhattan cupboards.
I waited for the woman to budge and then planted myself in her place. I searched the section until I found exactly what I needed for my sweet potato casserole, and jetted for the checkouts. As I made my way to the front, I was stopped by an employee who insisted I needed to go to the back of the line, around the store.
“No, no, no! I have a deal with the manager. She told me to skip.”
“You have to go to the back of the line, ma’am.”
“You don’t understand, my stuff if waiting up there.” I was attempting to push past her, when I spotted the manager. “That’s her! See?” she waved me up and blew past the weary and wounded still waiting in line. She directed me to an empty checkout where the containers of mashed potatoes, gravy, cornbread stuffing, Brussels sprouts, and green beans I ordered were being rung up. I placed my additional items next to them. I was almost out of there alive when a stock boy brought over the guest of honor, a fresh 14-pound turkey. My heart sank. All the other food was fully cooked and prepared, and this turkey was raw. How did I miss that? I must have ordered it this way, but how could I be such an idiot?
“Does everything look okay?” the manager asked before she whisked off to deal with another problem.
I took a breath, smiled, and said, “Yes. Thank you so much for helping me.”
My groceries were packed into my rolly-cart while I paid, and I was ready to walk out, almost victorious. I passed other customers who fought next to me along the way. “Did they find your order?”
“Yes! Thank you. They did.” I nodded and walked away from the battlefield.
I had a couple blocks to walk and think about the turkey. I’ve never made a turkey before. I guess technically I could cook one. But I don’t have a roasting pan. Come to think of it, I don’t have any pans. There’s no time for shopping and I don’t think that turkey would even fit inside my oven. I have a crock pot, but it wouldn’t fit in there either. Aside from butchering this bird myself and baking it in parts, I don’t have any way to cook this turkey.
I got back to my building, but had to take the long way with the wheelchair ramps because of my rolly-cart. I almost reached the elevator when I realized someone else could cook the turkey. I can’t just take it home and let it go bad. I’ll see if anyone who works in the building could use a turkey. At the front desk, I clumsily explained how it’s my first thanksgiving in the city, and I accidentally bought a raw turkey, and I couldn’t cook it, and he told me he’d try to find a good home for it.
“You’ll make sure someone who works here gets it? I don’t want it to go to waste.”
Just then a man walked up wearing the standard uniform, eyed the bird, and said, “Yeah, I’ll take a turkey.”
“Thank you!” I sighed in relief and plopped the poultry into his arms I had just slaughtered dozens of innocent people to obtain, only to give it away to the first person who would take it off my hands.
Just a 30 minute drive north of Metropolitan Nashville will take you to a place where fine southern heritage meets plain white trash. That place is Kentucky, where I grew up. In Kentucky, you can get married at the age of 16 with your parent’s signature, just like a permission slip for a field trip. You can’t vote, join the army, or buy cigarettes or alcohol, but by golly you can file joint tax returns. Who wants to waste money on a wedding rehearsal when you have a perfectly good prom coming up in April? By the time I was 18, I had been in three weddings, not as a flower girl, but as a bridesmaid. I’ve actually never been a flower girl, despite my requests. I was already my full adult height in second grade.
As an educated southern woman in her early thirties, being unmarried without children makes me stand out worse than a beer belly in a beauty pageant. My friends and family can’t imagine why I have restrained myself from the magic of matrimony all these years. I have a delightful boyfriend of 10 years whom I live with and co-parent two pugs. I love the idea of having a huge party with an open bar where all my acquaintances buy me gifts from a pre-selected registry. As far as I can tell, I don’t have issues with intimacy, commitment, or changing my bizarre last name. Despite all this, I’ve just never felt compelled, nor motivated to make an honest woman of myself. Maybe it’s my own counter-culture movement against my home state where legislation will chronologically grant you a marriage license before a driver’s license. Where the people you choose to be in your wedding party have a curfew, and are counting down the days till they get their braces off. I was in more weddings in high school than I have been in all the years since, and that’s saying a lot since I was in a sorority.
It all started when my aunt, who was only nine years older than me, got engaged. The whole family pitched in to throw her a simple wedding on a shoestring budget. We made all the food, bought our dresses secondhand, hosted the wedding at our house, and my mom and I were the bridesmaids. I was 12. We worked hard to make everything look as perfect as it did in Leisure Arts and other craft magazines, and there wasn’t a single snag until I went upstairs to get ready for the big event.
I started my period for the very first time just minutes before the ceremony. I decided to keep it a secret and threw away all the evidence, including my undies. That’s loyalty to the bride. I didn’t want to take any attention away from her, even for my first menstruation. My sanitary supplies were limited to what I could sneak from my mom’s stash, so I was basically wearing a diaper underneath my bridesmaid’s dress. I felt my maxi pad crinkle and crunch under the green polyester dress as I stiffly marched down the aisle. I felt so grown up. My aunt, who was raised like a sister to me was getting married, I was ovulating, and my mom let me get my haircut in layers for the first time. With my confidence and eyeliner, 12-year-old me could have gotten served at a bar.
My next stroll down the aisle was for a friend at the small Christian school I attended for two years. It was the year 2000 and we made it through Y2K with all our appendages, so anything was possible. All threats of the apocalypse were silenced after the clocks struck midnight and the world’s computers refrained from resetting to 1900. We climbed out of our underground bunkers and carried on with life. My friend graduated high school that year, and was getting married to her manager at Wendy’s where she worked. I’m not making fun of them, they’re still together, have three sons, and a wonderful life together. She even told me recently she was happy she got married, but looking back she didn’t know why the hell her parents went along with it.
This wedding took place in our church/school/building we used for everything. None of us had much money– we worked part-time after school for minimum wage. We had our dresses made by the most efficient seamstress in three counties, a Mennonite lady. You can milk a goat without breaking a seam in your dress, but they don’t pay much attention to the frilly details. You want a bow? You don’t need a bow. We do ankle length, and turtleneck. You don’t want to look like Mary Magdalene do you? This was pre-Pinterest and our town didn’t even have a JoAnn Fabrics, so patterns were limited. We either got our shoes at Wal-Mart or went barefoot. Being barefoot in Kentucky isn’t only a stereotype but a way of life. If you couldn’t run over gravel full speed without shoes, you’d never survive childhood.
The bride to be was raised even more religiously than I was. We were Southern Baptists, and premarital sex was a ticket straight to hell. We had both participated in a purity banquet, a ritual where we promised our parents not to have sex until marriage. As proof, we wore rings inscribed “True Love Waits”, and our parents were given skeleton keys as a symbol that they held the key to the lock on our chastity belts. Figurative, but still creepy. All this insured there would be no snarky remarks about the color of your wedding dress. No cream or eggshell for purity gals, you earned every thread of that bright white dress.
The third time I was an underage bridesmaid was for a friend in the same grade. She was actually one of the youngest in our class and we practically grew up together. Her mom signed the permission slip since she was still 17. She wasn’t hiding a pregnancy, under a purity vow, or even dying of cancer, she just wanted to be a wife.
She asked me to be her maid of honor. I had no idea what that meant. I was in high school and worked at Piggly Wiggly. Someone mentioned the Maid of Honor plans the Bachelorette party. Hmmm, I thought: Let me ask my mom if I can have people over. She said I can only have three girls over but we can order pizza. Also don’t wake up my dad, he works third shift. We didn’t have a stripper but would have had no choice about male nudity when my 5-year-old brother barged in and showed everyone his Vienna sausage. He was quite proud of it, like guys instinctively are. If she didn’t like that idea, maybe I could wait outside a gas station and ask an adult to buy us wine coolers. The town we lived in was completely dry, so I would have had to go to the next city over, and I wasn’t allowed to drive on the highway at night!
The day of the ceremony, I did my best to hide how I felt about the girl I made mud pies with as a kid getting legally bound to someone. We were still kids, but our state lawmakers didn’t find anything weird about not being able to drink during your own wedding toast. At the ceremony, traditional accompaniment like the Wedding March was replaced by NSYNC, Mariah Carey, and Shania Twain. Those were the hottest singers then and if they couldn’t express her feelings that day, who could? The happy newlyweds rode off into the sunset on a John Deere Gator, because we were teenagers in Kentucky, and that was badass.
The only logical place to go on a teen honeymoon is back home with your parents. How romantic to carry your new wife over the threshold of your home, AKA her old bedroom. What if they shared a bedroom with a sibling? Turn up the volume on your Discman so we can consummate this thang. Then we’ll move out all the Precious Moments figurines to make room for our wedding china.
A year later, my friend’s marriage had ended and I was home from college for the summer. As we caught up on everything from divorce to the freshman 15, I realized she had matured far beyond me. A year of college didn’t teach me what she learned about life in her first month of marriage. We celebrated our reunion by riding roller coasters at Six Flags. The last time I saw her was at our 10 year high school reunion. She surprised me when she showed up with a new husband, pictures of her adorable kids, and a very pregnant belly. Thankfully her current husband was nice enough to get the old wedding photos out of storage so I could have them as visual aids for this story.
I’m still thick as thieves with all three of these wonderful women, and I know they would do anything for me, including put on a bridesmaid’s dress, if it ever came to that. We’re all a bit older and wiser now and all agree we wouldn’t go back and change a thing. If I’ve learned anything from them, it’s that following your heart isn’t the worst thing you can do. Sure, divorces are messy, and it’s a real pain to get all new monogrammed stuff when you go back to your maiden name, but it’s nothing compared to the regret you would feel of never knowing if it could have worked. As for me, I’m not sure if I’ll ever feel old enough to drink at my own wedding. But until then, I’m registered at Target.