Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weeklies#6: Stuck on you

Ok people. I've been officially avoiding my blog this week. Why? I really don't feel like I have anything to write about, and the weeklies categories that I set up for myself just aren't working for me this week. I've got nothin, unless you want to read my musings on the greatness of black yoga pants (you can dress them up! you can dress them down!). See? Not so exciting.

I do this to myself. I forget that I'm like The Mayor of this here bloggy town and I can switch it up whenever I want! Woo-hoo! I'm an expert at burdening myself with sky high expectations and all this does is buy me a one way ticket to "Procrastination Valley" (to quote my pal Uncle B). Isn't that brillant? Procrastination Valley! Such a great metaphor. Because I don't want this to turn into a blog about stretchy clothing, I turned to the internents and asked, "Internets what should I write about?. I found a few funny random writing prompt generators. These are neat-o because they take the pressure out of thinking about what the heck to write about and some of the topics are good jumping off points. The prompt I picked has to do with collecting. It asks: Describe in as much detail as possible something you collected as a child. Here goes...

Meredith, the Grande Dame of our local Hallmark was also a Grande Grump. Once, when I was about 3 she harshly reprimanded me for touching a snake head suspended in a glass ball (it was the 70s people, Hallmark rolled like that back then)sitting next to the register. Later, during that same shopping trip I wandered away from my grandma and found Meredith quietly re-stocking birthday cards in the next aisle. Her polyester rump was right about eye level and I snuck up, grabbed her elastic waist band and pulled down her pants with all my 3 year old might, revealing her huge waist high undies. I can still see the look of shock on her pinched up grumpy face. I was so pleased with myself that I just squealed and ran off. Sweet revenge! Needless to say Meredith and I didn't get off to a great start.

Like most kids of my generation I was wild about stickers. In my small town, the Meredith's Hallmark store was the sticker center-of-the universe. You had to wade through a maze of highly scented candles, mirrored poem-plaques, doilies, grandma's brag books and pressed flower bookmarks to reach it, but at the back of the store there was an entire wall of sticker-roll love displayed on on long dowels that reached from floor to ceiling. For most of the girls in my 5th grade class it was the piece de resistance of the mall. For us, the only thing that came even close was the promise of free Melt Away Mint samples from the Hickory Farms next door. A pair of scissors hung from a piece of ribbon next to the sticker wall, and a hand-made sign proclaimed that that you couldn't touch the scissors, or cut the stickers yourself unless you were an adult. Somewhere between the age of 3 and 10 I lost all my nerve, and started following the rules. This rule made for a big problem if you were hanging out with your friends at the mall. It meant you had to get Grumpy Meredith to help you.

For me the beauty of sticker collecting wasn't just choosing which to get (the dress-up bears, metallic unicorns, scratch-n-stiff pizza or the fuzzy dogs?) with my 50 cents, it was the chase, the thrill of the hunt. It went something like this. After your decision was made, and you counted and double counted your change, you had to gather your courage to stand in line to ask old Meredith to cut your stickers for you. If there were people behind you she always made you step to the side and wait it out till she rung up the last "real customer". You'd stand there shifting your weight from foot to foot repeating in your head the list of stickers you'd so carefully picked out, "One unicorn, two dress up bears, and one scratch and sniff pizza..or wait, was it two?". The more Meredith cheerfully stalled with her grown-up customers: offering free gold crown seals for people's cards, free gift wrapping, or making idle chit chat, the harder it was to remember your list. It was a sticker stakeout of sorts. I'm sure she thought we'd just give up. When the last person had paid for their breakable loot, and not-so-merry Meredith had painstakingly wrapped it up, she'd turn to you with a sigh and say, "Now what is it that you wanted?". Duh, lady.

You'd find yourself right on her heels as she trudged towards the back of the store. Along the way she'd be sure to stop 8 million times to tuck stray cards back into place, or re-adjust the Precious Moments display. My point is, it took for-friggin-ever. Finally, at the Great Wall of Stickers, she'd stand before you, hands on hips and ask which stickers you wanted. You'd spit out your list in one breathless run-on sentence because you'd held it in so long. Then there was usually an eye roll followed by the lecture about how you'd better be SURE, and you better have enough money because ALL STICKER SALES WERE FINAL. And then in one dramatic swoop she'd pick up the forbidden scissors and snip,snip,snip it was over.

As the years went by, the sticker wall at Meredith's slowly started to get smaller and smaller until finally it was gone. A few years ago my hubby and I took my grandma there to help her get some holiday stickers (after stopping at Hickory Farms where grandma bought us each a bag of Melt Aways), and the store was vastly changed. No more Meredith, and the few stickers they did have were all packaged up, no scissors required.

There you have it, I wrote my way down Memory Lane and right on out of Procrastination Valley! If any of you have your own collecting related story to share I'd love to hear what you collected as a kid and what you collect now, in my comments!


biology girl said...

That was a GREAT story Miss J! I too collected stickers as a kid, but without quite as much suspense and drama. Now that I am older and wiser, I have turned to more mature items: holiday-themed PEZ dispenses and hotel shower caps. Hey, at least it's not stamps!

Uncle Beefy said...

That was AWESOME J.!!! I collected teddy bears and the appropriate stickers when I was little. Sadly, I still don't think anyone received the memo that those days passed oh, somewhere around 1981 when I switched to Madonna instead. Stop with the teddy bears people...I cannot be saved now!

life without novacaine said...

You are so funny! I totally remember the sticker wall of fame in the Orange County town I grew up in. You have a light and airy style of writing and an illlustration style to go with it. I enjoy your blog very much.

DA said...

I remember this story.
I was not there.(so I only go on her Grandma's story)
G-Ma came home and told us she did all the aforemetioned but there was an added twist.
After pulling on the poor lady's pants she uttered, in a loud voice, (one that only an opera star would be invieous of)" Grandma, I think this lady burpped in the pants."
She's been a joy, creative and funny all her life.