you're all invited to my intervention party - BYOB.

My whole life before today lead up to this one day. And here I am. I have arrived.

Except not really.

I swear, I didn't care anything about being 21 a month ago. Every once in a while, usually on the 30th of every month, I'd go, "Hmm, in (October - currentMonth) months, I will be able to purchase alcohol any time I please, except before noon on Sunday in North Carolina." And that was it. I wasn't giving the whole thing much thought.

But this month, I am ashamed at my own excitement. Every time I go to an alcohol-serving eating establishment, I am sorely disappointed that it's not later in the month so I can have a beer. I don't even like beer. (However, I am making it my goal to like beer, because premium malt beverages and mixed drinks are not cheap. PBR, here I come!) I mourn the drink specials I cannot enjoy because I was not born premature. I'm always sure that they would have been very good.

I am intensely ashamed at how pathetic I have been at the prospect of drinking lately. My desire to get older makes me feel about five years younger. I wasn't even sure if I should share this with you because it really is that silly. Also because my mother will worry. She already kinda thinks I might drink too much, and is planning a big intervention party next month. Her last message to me ended with the words "be careful" in all caps. Who is being prayed for today? I think it's me.

Mama need not worry. I'm not sure how I'm going to celebrate. I'm too cheap to go out and get wasted, plus I don't like being too intoxicated to spell "sophisticated". (Long story.) I feel like I should do something related to purchasing alcohol, though I haven't decided on what. Like when you turn 16, you get your license and when you turn 18, you go vote or buy a pack of cigarettes. It's a rule.

I got a birthday card, about two weeks early, from the ASU health department. It was signed by all the staff and gave me a list of 21 things to do on my birthday as well as that statistic that most ASU students have 6 or fewer drinks when they party. (6 or fewer? I should certainly hope so.) Suggestions include baking a cake and going bicycling and maybe reading a book all alone in the dark. Somehow I don't think I'm going to be looking at the card for ideas on how to spend the day.

Celebrations for the day aside, I am glad to have reached this particular milestone. I look forward to being able to go into clubs and bars past 11pm. I look forward to not having to pay more to get into places because I'm unable to patronize their bar. I look forward to not getting those annoying hand stamps that scream "Look at me! I sure am sober and likely to remain so!" I look forward to no longer being the automatic designated driver.

I look forward to the wine. I've been bringing a different bottle of wine home every time I go, in the hopes of turning my parents on to something other than white zinfandel. I'm not a wine snob, but the people at work, they laugh at me! It is a hassle to get Nick to take me to the grocery store while I examine every bottle and he complains that all wines are a sign of homosexuality. Nick's a budweiser kind of man. I know you're not surprised. But now, I can take myself down to Lowe's and spend as much time as I want examining and holding the bottles until I find something that is not Turning Leaf or come in a jug or a box, but still isn't more than $10. I like wine, and I like to learn about it, but it's hard to be an underaged connisseur.

I guess what I look forward to most is the option. Not that I'm itching to legally drink myself into oblivion, but just that I can if I want to. I can order a drink in a restaurant, and then proceed to sit there and drink it. The thought boggles the mind.

But twenty-one is the last time when it's good to be older. I've always been the oldest or close to it in my group of friends. It was always a good thing, because I got to do everything first. But this is pretty much the last time being older is the good thing. Now they won't see me as older, just old.

But anyway, there's my thoughts on this, my 21st birthday.

And now I feel old.



Let me tell you about Louie.

A good way to start my description of Louie would be to tell you his job. Unfortunately, I don't know what it is. I know he works with me at Vintner's, and I know he greets people and takes them to a table where someone can then wait on them. He's a middle-aged man, and I'm not sure if he is supposed to just be a host, or if he is a sort of manager. He doesn't have any authority, really, but that wouldn't be the first time a manager at Vintner's had no authority. But still, his age makes us all think he might be a semi-boss, and therefore we have to show a little respect in the chance that he has some sort of power tucked away somewhere.

So I'll call him a glorified host. Then I'll call him a lot of other things, because frankly, I don't like Louie very much.

Louie thinks everyone has an attitude problem. Everyone. Servers who most certainly don't have attitude problems apparently do just for Louie. I work with some people who actually do have such problems and I work with some who don't. Everyone but Louie can tell the difference. He thinks we all just need to "grow up". This was my run-in with him:

Louie: Make sure you run an interrim report.
(At this point, let me explain that the only way you would ever run such a report is if you were working a double shift. I had been there for over eight hours that day and was not scheduled for a double. It crossed my mind that this was their way of telling me that I was working a double after all.)
Me: I'm not working a double.
Louie: I know, but Bryon said to make sure everyone ran an interrim report.
Me: Oh, I think he probably just meant people who were working doubles.

At which point he stomps off, yelling about my attitude and leaving me very confused. About thirty seconds later, he stomps, stomps, by again, still yelling about it. I even try to apologize for him being an idiot, though I think I worded it better. Lynn, the boss' wife happened to be there the second time he does his angry stomping man routine and asks me, "Sandra, are you giving Louie an attitude?" Now I'm tired and grumpy and without thinking, say "Apparently." To my relief, Lynn laughed, leading me to believe that she doesn't think much of Louie either.

I want to point out to him that chances are, every single person around him doesn't have the problem, and that maybe he should look a little closer to himself. Such a statement made to him would only indicate further how deep-seated my own attitude problem is.

Aside from his outbursts, Louie is very unconcerned about the fatigue of others. Other hosts we've had have always been pretty understanding about not giving someone tables unless it was necessary if they've been there all day long. There have been days when a server or two could have been sent home, but for the fact that Louie continues to give them tables after they've been there for hours upon hours. It's not that there aren't other servers to take the tables that haven't been there for as long. It's not that the servers requested to continue to get tables. Actually, I don't know what it is. Maybe he just doesn't care that we too get tired. He should be happy to have one less server's attitude problem to deal with.

Louie hates his job, at least I think he does. He doesn't like us, and I'm pretty sure he's caught some of the negative vibes we have about him. He's a rotten host. He is rude to customers. He wants more money, and tries to take tables all the time. Once, he claimed he couldn't find someone to take a table, so he took it himself, even though there were probably five servers with one or no tables. Then he complains if we go out back for a smoke break because he doesn't have time to find us. I'm not sure how he has time to host and take tables. Another time, he had a table and I asked why he took it, since we were not overwhelmingly busy. He said, "The people requested me." I was surprised, since he wasn't even a server. How did he get requested? "Really?" I said, to which he snapped, "Yes. What? Don't servers ever get requested at this restaurant?" I said they do and left it at that. The assistant hostess later told me that he hadn't been requested, but had had the same people the night before and volunteered for it. What kind of silly middle-aged man needs to lie to a twenty-year old waitress?

I'm proud of myself, really, how I've handled it. I know that Louie works a whole lot, and by the end of the day these past few weeks, we've all been beat and very very grumpy. I try to keep this in mind and be sympathetic. I've gone out of my way to be nice to him. And at 4:30, when he tells me I have another table, even though I've been there since 8 am and I know another person could take the table, I smile and thank him. I gouge my eyes out later, but he doesn't see that. And honestly, I think being nice to him has helped. After a hellish breakfast Saturday, he told the breakfast servers to take a break and let him know when we wanted to start taking tables again.

Here is my silver lining, because there is always one, no matter how tiny. It is the same silver lining that I have whenever I don't like one of my esteemed coworkers at this little restaurant with extremely high employee turnover. It helps keep things in perspective when I'd like to tell someone just how I feel about them. It's never failed me before.

He'll quit before too long.


gentlemen surfers.

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas are going back to Florida.

So are a lot of people, you say, especially if you have spoken to me in the past couple of days, seeing as the mass migration of the elderly is all I talk about anymore. What makes Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas special?

Well, I'll actually miss them.

I didn't even know that Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas were Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas until I'd waited on them several times. Mr. Frank Thomas always paid in cash, always a twenty, keep the change. But once he used his credit card, and then I knew that the older couple in front of me was in fact Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas.

Though Mr. Frank Thomas' first name is Frank, or at least that's the shortened form of it, I do not know Mrs. Frank Thomas' first name. I feel certain that it is not Frank or any form of Frank. They know my first name, because I tell all my customers my name. I don't think they know my last name, since I've never told them. They always call me by name. I love it when customers do that.

They come in every Sunday, I assume after church because they are always wearing Sunday clothes when they come in a little after noon, and because I feel that Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas are church people. Perhaps Presbyterians. They request me to be their server, and that is almost always arranged. Sometimes they sit in the sunroom, sometimes in the gazebo. They don't care where they sit as long as it's in my section. Once they sat in someone else's section, and I asked them if their server was taking good care of them. Mr. Frank Thomas said the server spilled soup on him and insulted his wife, but other than that, everything was just fine.

They drink water. They eat different things, but they always wash down those different things with water. I bring them lemon slices for their water, even though they don't ask and we're not supposed to unless they ask. My boss thinks that his profits are all being spent in lemons, that servers are just giving away his money in the form of mountains of lemons. But because they are special, I risk termination, and they get lemons without having to ask.

Sometimes they have french onion soup and a salad with ranch dressing. Sometimes just a salad. Sometimes a reuben sandwich. They don't eat things like cheeseburgers or crab cake sandwiches with our special gorgonzola coleslaw. They've never ordered dessert, and I've stopped asking if they want any. I know Mr. Frank Thomas, and if he wanted a piece of cheesecake, I'm pretty sure he'd let me know.

Every week, Mr. Frank Thomas starts up a new conversation, a little bit more strange than the week before. Sometimes he asks me to fix his computer because he knows I'm a computer science major. This week, he gave me a digital watch and asked me to fix the time. As I did, he told me it was a dead man's watch that he had found washed up on the beach. Mrs. Frank Thomas shook her head.

Mr. Frank Thomas says the strangest things. There were a couple of weeks when Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas did not show up on Sunday afternoon, shortly after 12 in their Sunday clothes. The Sunday they came back, I asked where they had been. Mr. Frank Thomas whispered to me behind his menu that they didn't come because Mrs. Frank Thomas thought she was pregnant. They are both probably in their seventies.

I don't know how long Mrs. Frank Thomas has been Mrs. Frank Thomas, but I bet it's a long time. Maybe even fifty years. I think Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas are in love. When I take their order, Mr. Frank Thomas puts his hand on that of Mrs. Frank Thomas and says very tenderly, "What would you like, my dear?" And when Mr. Frank Thomas tells me ridiculous stories, Mrs. Frank Thomas laughs and laughs like she has the funniest husband in the world.

This week, they told me they were going back to Florida for the winter, and I realized that Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas were very rich. Rich enough to have two lives, one in Blowing Rock, North Carolina and one in Florida. Mr. Frank Thomas asked if I was too old to kidnap and said he could get me a job in a very fine establishment in Florida called Granny's Kitchen, where all the gentlemen surfers go. Gentlemen surfers, he said, wear ties.

And now Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas have flown south for the winter and I won't see them again until next May. Mr. Frank Thomas always gives me at least a 20% tip, but he gave me an extra large tip this week, I guess to tide me over until May when he can give me another twenty dollar bill and tell me to keep the change. And then they left, saying their goodbyes to me as they walked together out of the sunroom, out the door, and towards the land of the gentlemen surfers.


is it november yet?

Birds fly south for the winter, and so do old people.

It's official, October is "touristly" over. There are no more weekends, and that means it's time for them to take their Cadillacs and their Buicks and head to their winter homes.

The tourist season starts in May, continues ever upwards, so high that you think it can't possibly get any higher. That's August, when you are up to your elbows in octogenarians with too much money. September comes, and you get a little rest - they're only up to mid-thigh.

And then it's October, and you can't breathe, the air is so thick with them.

It's a mixed bag, really. October is the time to make money. The restaurants are so busy that even if you give crappy service, which you will, because you have seven tables and the kitchen is behind and there's a thirty-minute wait, you'll go home with enough money to pay your rent. I peaked out two weekends ago, where I made $275 in two days. The trouble is, you end up wanting to kill yourself.

And the weather, that fickle creature Mother Nature, has been gorgeous. It rained all summer long, keeping business down and our pockets empty. But not a single drop fell on an October weekend this year.

Until today. That cloudy sky had to be the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. (No, scratch that. My computer clock an hour behind my alarm clock was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.) After a hectic breakfast, lunch slowed down and by 2, Joe said I could leave. I hadn't left before 4:30 in weeks, even on the days I opened up the place at 8 am.

There was a weird atmosphere today. I think we all knew it was over, that we made it and that half the staff will probably quit before November's over. The radio in the kitchen was tuned to some oldies station, and there was some interesting karaoke going on. Ever seen a couple of waitresses waltz while a pair of guys make sandwiches and sing "Unchained Melody?" Just in case you were wondering what we were doing while your coffee cup remains empty. It was a good time, a wonderful relief from the running around and screaming.

And now it's over. I lived through another tourist season with little to no damage to my physical and mental health. And a few weeks from now, when I'm going home after six hours of work with $20, I'll wonder what was so bad about October. I just hope someone reminds me.


penny passport.

A quick story before I fall over dead.

When I was in the sixth grade, I went on a weekend retreat with these girls from another school. I only knew one of them, the girl who was actually hosting the retreat in her family's cabin. The rest were strangers, but we all talked and gabbed as twelve-year old girls will do, and they pretty much accepted me quickly.

The vacation was to a lake outside of King's Mountain, NC, and we spent one afternoon in town at my friend's grandmother's store. There was a train track that ran right through the middle of the town. We decided that we would put pennies on the track when the train was about to come so that we could have flattened pennies.

So I know that it wasn't necessarily a good idea. Mama always told me that something miniscule, as small as say, a penny, on the track could derail a train. But she didn't tell me until after I got back from this trip when I told her this story. Besides, that story sounds like one of those stories some parent made up a long time ago for the child's own good. More likely, they just wanted us to stay away from train tracks.

But we didn't, or this would have been a much shorter story. All the other girls put pennies on the tracks. I say all the other because I didn't have a penny on me, so I didn't have one for the tracks. It seems doubtful that none of the five other girls there had an extra penny to give me, but none were offered. So I went without. I felt like the poor kid who has to wait outside the ice cream store.

Pennies in place, we stepped well away from the tracks (in case of derailment or projectile coins, I suppose) when the train came. After the last car flashed before us, we clambored up to the tracks to find the pennies.

Of course the pennies did not stay on the tracks. They fell off and into the rocks that surrounded the tracks. They were big rocks, and the pennies fell in between them. We had to pick the rocks up and dig to find our new treasures, and since we risked train derailment to make them, we were going to have them.

A couple of the girls never did find theirs. Their ice cream fell right off their cones.

And landed right in my hands.

As luck would have it, I found one. It wasn't one of theirs because it wasn't at all warm, like the freshly pressed ones were. It belonged to some long forgotten kid who also risked derailment who knows how long ago. I didn't offer it to one of the girls who couldn't find theirs. And you know what? I don't feel that bad about it.

I still have it. It marked the beginning of a flat penny collection I have going now. Doubtful though it may be, I still believe the derailment theory just enough to not put pennies on railroad tracks anymore. But there are flat penny machines all over the place, pretty much in every town that ever had a tourist. You put in fifty-one cents, sometimes pick a design, and out pops a fresh, warm, flat penny. I even have a little book with plastic slots to keep them all in. It says "Penny Passport" on the front. I'm not sure which countries accept those.

See? Aren't you glad I didn't listen to my mother?



Before I worked at Vintner's, semi-fine dining in the heart of historic Blowing Rock, I worked at a hotel also in Blowing Rock called the Cliff Dwellers Inn. Before I went there, I wasn't even sure it really existed. It isn't visible from the road, but they do have a sign off the highway that says "Cliff Dwellers Inn," and has a yes or no light-up sign right below giving vacancy information. No one in Boone could tell you what the hotel looked like, but everyone knows the sign. As a general rule, it says "yes."

The Cliff Dwellers was bought last year by a man named Ed, who lived in an apartment within the inn with his wife Nicki. Ed drives a blue truck with a painted picture of a biblical figure walking somewhere and a religious message.

When I went to interview, Ed explained the job to me thoroughly. He also made sure to mention that taxes would be taken out of my check. Innocent Methodist that I am, I was confused as to why he was telling me the obvious. Of course they would. Apparently, some hotels are paid in cash by their guests and then pay their help in cash, thereby removing the government from the picture. But Ed and Nicki were innkeeping for the Lord, they said, and there would be none of that.

For those of you that don't know, hotel housekeeping is one of the most miserable jobs in the world. It is repetitive and simple, except for the fact that there is absolutely no room for error. Everything must be perfect. There cannot be streaks on the mirrors, dust on the furniture, or hairs in the bathroom. That would be simple, except that you're, or at least I was, expected to spend less than half an hour in each room. Actually, at first I was expected to spend 45 minutes, then half an hour, then down to 20 minutes when I stopped working there. You had to be fast and thorough, and while I could get one or the other, I never managed to get a handle on both at the same time.

I was making $8 an hour, which would be okay if I ever worked. Even with only 19 rooms, Cliff Dwellers was never full. Ed didn't like me, so I was always the last housekeeper called. So I worked weekends, when Ed was generally able to turn on the "no" sign at about 10 pm because all the other hotels were already full. I made about $200 a month, which was also exactly what I paid in rent. Ed kept insisting that we just weren't in the big season yet, even in July. Yes, I can see why most people wouldn't want to come to the mountains where it's less than 80 degrees in the middle of the day. They'd rather stay in Florida.

Wretched job that it is, it was made even worse because of the fact that Ed was just plain crazy. The man was in his forties, yet he talked like a child. When he checked my rooms, if there was a particle of something on the floor, he called it a "specky-decky". We had what looked an awful lot like a dustpan, but was in fact a "scoopy-doo pan."

He also apparently had a very low opinion of my intelligence. For when he explained something, he felt the need to explain it thoroughly, then explain the reasoning behind it (which was usually quite obvious), and then sum up. That all wouldn't be so bad, if not for the fact that he generally told me the same things every day. Apparently, I appear to have trouble with the idea of stripping the linens first, and therefore need to be told every day in great detail. And even though I had been stripping the linens first, I definitely needed to be reminded again and again.

I lasted two months. About every day that I worked, I would decide to quit, then lose my steam by cleaning vigorously. I had already applied for other jobs in hopes of finding a reason to quit. But one Saturday, I got a call on my cell phone as I was pulling into play practice. It was Ed, explaining that there were no cups in 105 and that he was going to have to not use me anymore. Apparently the occupants of 105 were very upset about the lack of cups in their room. You know how it is. I wish he'd just said, "You know, you're really bad at this, and I can tell you absolutely hate this job and me. Maybe you should find other employment."

I was pretty upset. I'd never been fired before, and as a general rule, I'm not really big on failure. I may be allergic to it. Within a week, I had the job at the restaurant, which has proved a much better job by far. On my application, I didn't list Cliff Dwellers as one of my previous employers because I knew the kind of review I would get. I still feel vaguely guilty about it.

Only at Blowing Rock's busiest did Cliff Dwellers' "no" sign ever go up before nightfall last season. I was pretty sure that Ed and Nicki's financial venture would not last. Even though the experience was one of the more miserable in my life, I felt bad that they were going to fail so ridiculously. They seem to be doing much better this year, though. I like to think that I'm not bitter.

Ed and Nicki have become friends with my current boss, Joe. They send lots of customers down for breakfast, and those people get a 10% discount on all non-alcoholic purchases. Sometimes I ask them how they like the inn, and I want to ask whether there are cups provided.

Sometimes Ed and Nicki come to Vintner's to eat or talk business with Joe. They've seen me a couple of times, and it was obvious they realized that I was familiar even if they didn't realize why my face gave them a sinking feeling. I have no intentions of reminding them, and pray that they will never sit at one of my tables. I hear they are demanding customers and that they tip poorly. I am not surprised.

Besides, if I had to wait on them, I'd be so tempted to just never bring them any beverages.


something subtle, but relevant.

Holly is living by herself in an apartment in Queens.

I don't know why this is significant, but it is, for Ian has just repeated it for the second time. I don't know how to react to this, since I don't know Holly and I've never been to Queens. It does give me a mental picture, one that is sure to be as far from the truth as possible. The Holly in my head, she has a cat. Named Chavez.

I call him Ian not because that's his real name, though his real name does have three letters. Some other writer before me called him that, so I figured it was some sort of writing rule that I didn't know about. I asked for a list of the writing rules once, but was ignored.

I knew a guy named Ian in high school, or rather I knew of him. He was rather unaware of my existence, because he was the senior star football player while I was a freshman, and even I know the rules about that. I was unconcerned about his lack of concern about me. A very funny, though chubby girl on my basketball team was in love with him, though he did not reciprocate. She was just his funny friend, because this was still high school, and the funny girls don't get their revenge until their twenties, when the football stars realize which girls they should have been dating. I know that rule, too.

But this was not the same Ian, since it wasn't really even an Ian at all. This was just a pseudo-Ian, a guy in an IHOP at midnight, telling us that Holly was living alone in an apartment in Queens.

This Ian, he wore Chuck Taylors. I did too. He complimented me on mine, and I on his. That's another rule. The Ian in high school would never have worn Chuck Taylors. You can't play football in those.

Holly does not wear Chuck Taylors either, of this I am sure. They are funny girl shoes. I try to look at the Holly in my head, at her one bedroom apartment in Queens, and focus on her feet to see what she uses to cover them. Flip-flops maybe. She is not a funny girl, she is not waiting for her revenge. She will always be the type of girl that boys should be dating.

I think Holly is beautiful and unconcerned about the fact, like having beauty is the same as having elbows. I am not beautiful and am slightly concerned about that fact, but then again, I'm not living alone in an apartment in Queens either. Nor do I have a cat.

I'm just a funny girl waiting for my revenge.


a matter of principal.

Mr. Emory was the king of overused adages.

He'd come stumbling onto the PA system, telling us various announcements and that we should wash behind our ears and never give up our dreams. How can one stumble on a PA system? Frankly, I'm not sure either, but Mr. Emory managed it.

He used to speak at school functions, getting up and lecturing us on the value of a good education and a good football game. He used to be a football coach. There is no doubt in my mind that when he spoke to us, he pictured us all in complete football gear. He believed that there was no situation in life that did not call for a good football metaphor. Had he ever found otherwise, he would have lost the will to live.

He had these saying he would use, like the one that managed to pop up in our registration booklets. "Plan your work and work your plan." Really, he had several like that, where you say the same thing twice, switching it around the second time. Catchy, eh?

My favorite, though, had to be his attitude one. "Every morning, I get up and I look in the mirror and I say, 'God, give me gratitude, but not an attitude.'" Classic as this was by itself, it was made even better by Mr. Emory's stuttering. He'd get to the gratitude and attitude part, ended up getting the two switched and have to start over again.

Mr. Emory bumbled in general.

The most memorable event of his administration was the dress code debacle. It was determined at some point in my freshman year that the girls were being just a little too generous with the skin they were showing. The rule was that shorts were to be no shorter than a certain number of inches above the knee, how many I don't recall. Apparently, the female thigh was found to be "distracting" as the handbook put it. This rule, as with the rest of the dress code, was generally ignored except for extreme cases. You pretty much had to forego pants at all to get a dress code violation.

The Emory administration decided to put a stop to this and, get this, actually enforce the rules. They gave warnings over the announcements. They told the teachers to crack down. The assistant principal gained a rotten reputation with the students by stalking the halls with a tape measure around her neck, demanding girls let her measure the distance between their hems and their knees. I'm not sure if that was even true.

Finally, the powers that be were fed up. Mr. Emory came onto the PA system at the end of the day, stuttering through the announcement that girls were now banned from wearing shorts at all, effective immediately.

There was a general cry of outrage the next day. Actually, there was a female cry of outrage, as the boys just found it rather amusing. Petitions were passed around, citing sexism on the part of the administration, as the boys were allowed to wear whatever they wanted. There was a rule saying that pants were to be worn at the waist, but that again was pretty much ignored except for extreme cases. So the boys were home free. Some girls stayed home that first day, some showed up wearing their very best Nair shorts. I think they were sent home.

At the end of that day, exactly one day after the new policy was announced, Mr. Emory came on the intercom once more to tell us that the very same policy was now revoked. One day. He dismissed charges of sexism by saying "Girls are number one in my office!" giving us something to talk about the next day when we had nothing more to protest.

I haven't thought about the incident in years. I had trouble fitting the concept of dress code into my college brain, as we're allowed to be as naked as we want here. Now I find it all a little confusing. What was the point? Did he actually believe the dress code revision would fly, that he could get away with a school policy change in the middle of the year? I'm pretty sure that some parents would feel that their girls' only chance in this life was to be able to wear very tiny clothing, and I do know there were many parents complaints in that very brief short-less period. Or was he just trying to prove a point, assert his authority and then be satisfied that it was thoroughly asserted after 24 hours?

Who knows? That's just another eternal question that will go down next to the Bermuda Triangle, Amelia Earhart, and green ketchup.

A friend of mine went down to Myrtle Beach a few years ago and saw a poster calling for the election of Ed Emory as the Myrtle Beach mayor. He'd actually left the school after my freshman year, for whatever reason. I don't even know if he got elected mayor, but it does bring up some amusing possibilities, doesn't it? Banning all of Myrtle Beach, quite possibly South Carolina's nakedest town, from wearing bikinis, and giving long, football-riddled speeches at the opening of the new mall. I hope he did get elected, just because it would be funny.

Mr. Emory, he plans his work and works his plan.


sock monkeys.

For my sixteenth birthday, my mom made me a sock monkey.

It's a little rough-looking. Its eyes are half off, and one leg is much larger than the other. It's got some seams showing, and one of its ears is upside down and crooked. But, as I'm twenty now, that's not from age and wear and tear. It started out that way.

My mom made sock monkeys for each and every one of my other siblings. That's five sock monkeys. Well, four sock monkeys and one sock elephant for my brother. Regardless, I was the one kid without a sock creature. I was deprived. (Don't even get me started on my total lack of Lincoln Logs growing up.)

I think I mentioned this once or twice to my mom, mostly as a joke. Guilt trips on your mom can be fun. "Mama, you never made me a sock monkey. Mama, you always make her favorite food. Mama, you love her more than me." It's all fun. Behind my teasing, there was a note of envy. (Apparently, I use humor to mask my true feelings, go figure.) All the other kids' monkeys were well worn with much use. They had all been featured as the stuffed animal of choice at bedtime. Why had I been left out of the tradition? Really, where was my sock monkey?

Mama clued into this. So my dear sweet mother got up at 4:30 on the morning of my sixteenth birthday and made me a sock monkey. Yes, its legs are uneven, and yes, it may very well go blind soon. But it was her first sock creature attempt in probably twenty years, and I thought it was beautiful. It was nothing like what sixteen-year old girls get for their birthdays, but it was easily one of my favorite presents ever. The tradition was complete.

I think I want to have a sock monkey tradition with my kids. I will make them each one, except the one I love the most will get a sock elephant. The best part is that I can show them mine and tell them about my wonderful Mama.

Plus, that will segue nicely into the explanation, "See, dear, the legs are supposed to look like that."


throw me in the shallow water.

I knew the guy beforehand. We'd had several classes together, both being CS majors. I knew his name, knew that he seemed kinda morose and quiet, but had never spoken to him. I'm not even sure I'd even seen him smile before. I could probably write that exact same paragraph for about twenty other people in my department.

He sat behind me this morning, two computers down. I saw him when I did my semi-hourly head count of the computer lab. The administration is trying to decide if we need the computer lab open as much as we have it, so we take head counts. I always feel the urge to pad my counts just a little, so at least if anyone's hours are judged superfluous, they won't be mine.

He was staring into space. To be fair, I do a good bit of that when I'm in the lab, too. But unlike me, he didn't have to be there. And he wasn't even facing a computer. He was turned around in his chair, looking at nothing in particular with no programs or anything open on his computer. I added the word "strange" with a question mark next to it in my list of opinions about him and went back to my own spacing out game.

Suddenly, he was beside me, standing next to me, leaning on the counter talking to me for the first time ever. I was definitely taken aback, partly because of the out-of-the-blue quality the encounter had, but mostly because I'm scared of strangers and even with all I knew about him, he still qualified as one.

Him: Hey, how's it goin'?
Me: Not too bad.
Him: Getting a lot of work done?
Me: (Hiding instant messenger window with program code I had been looking at) Not really.
Him: My name's Spencer.

I'm going to pause now to mention that I'm a little hazy on this part of the conversation. I'm not sure if I introduced myself or if he said something about already knowing me. You say that of course I introduced myself, that should be the instinctive thing to fly out of my mouth when someone else introduces themselves. That would be true, if I were not Sandra and somewhat socially retarded. Of course he doesn't know that because I don't think I told him. Anyway, no time now to apologize for poor social skills, moving on to my next brilliant line...

Me: Hi.

Pause again because he sure as heck did. I was totally mystified at this point as to why he was even talking to me. I was supposed to be monitoring some quizzes for a class. I thought maybe it was because he needed me to turn on a quiz for him so he could take it. I kept waiting for him to ask me about the quiz. I was just about to mention it when he continued the conversation on his own.

Him: So, are you dating anyone?

Oh. Ohhhhhhhh.

Me: Yeah.
Him: Oh, well, that's not very surprising.
Me: Heh, thanks.

At which point he said a friendly goodbye and left, while a deep blush remained on my face for another 5 minutes. I got that little "Someone likes me!" glow and wondered if he had been staring into space with visions of me leaping across meadows in flowing dresses. Then I pondered what girls do when they don't have boyfriends with which to block hopeful suitors, which led to me thinking of Casey leaping across meadows in a flowing dress.

Aside from all the regular perks of having a boyfriend, using him as an excuse is a often-overlooked one. Even when you only suspect someone is edging toward that "Care to work on the same strand of spaghetti with me?" moment, you can play the boyfriend card, saving both yourself and him from future embarrassment. That is, if you play it well. I always end up waiting too late and being too obvious. I think they appreciate the effort just the same, and think of me nicely when they cry late at night.

Having a boyfriend excuses you from having an opinion. No one follows up the conversation by saying, "So, if you didn't have a boyfriend, would you find me attractive?" although you sometimes get a half-hearted "Call me when you break up," one of those jokes people make when they're not really kidding.

I am always flattered by these attempts for my affection, not that they happen all that frequently. It's hard not to be flattered by positive attention. Casey says I like it too much. Maybe. He should just be glad I get to add one more reason to my huge list of reasons why I'm glad I have him.

And most of them are much less shallow.


she's got legs.

The rash is back.

Now don't go running to direct me to the Valtrex site to suppress my outbreaks. It's not that kind of rash, though I appreciate your concern.

I have a skin condition. The technical name is very very dry skin, though I like to refer to it as seasonal excema because people take it much more seriously that way. Basically, it's this. My legs get dry, I scratch them and end up with the Weird Scab Patches of Eternity. As their name would imply, the Weird Scab Patches of Eternity do not go away with traditional methods such as Neosporin or the method favored by five-year olds, repeatedly picking them off until they scar up. I have to use this prescription steroid cream and keep them ridiculously moisturized for them to go away.

I first started getting the rash in high school when I played basketball. It was a winter sport, so my legs were dry anyway, plus I had to shave them fairly often since I was wearing those flattering basketball shorts. That's a bad combination. The first winter I got it, my legs turned into one great big Weird Scab Patch of Eternity. Someone asked if I had the chicken pox. Another time, a spectator for the other team sitting on the sidelines yelled "Hey, 32! You've got zits on your legs!" Clever crowd that was.

I finally wound up at the dermatologist, who actually visibly winced when she saw my chicken pox that wasn't chicken pox. Aside from the cream, I was also put on a Vaseline regimen. Because zits on my legs was not bad enough, I had to lube up my legs with petroleum jelly every night before bed. My sheets stuck to me and my legs were so shiny no one could look at them directly without suffering mild eye injury.

But it worked, so I didn't mind too terribly much. After a while, I switched from Vaseline to Eucerin. It may be cow urea, but at least it doesn't glisten. Plus, I bet if you use your imagination for a little while, you can come up with some good jabs for the girl who puts Vaseline all over her legs every night. Yeah, those got old.

I've never had it as badly as I did that first winter as I have the sense to catch it before it gets to the stage resembling leprosy. But I do still have the odd Weird Scab Patch of Eternity, and I've had to start breaking out the nightly Eucerin ritual again.

Even with the patches, the glistening legs, and the mistaken chicken pox, I still try to find the silver lining to seasonal excema, and I think I've finally found it.

"No, I really can't shave my legs. You see, I have a condition."


a matter of skill.

I have an overwhelming capacity to lose my keys. Really, I amaze myself. It's like the very second I walk into my bedroom, my keys evaporate from my hand and reappear in some other locale in the room. I never realize the evaporation has occurred until it's time for the keys to reappear, and I have to tear the room apart looking for them. And unlike evaopated milk, I can't just go get a box of evaporated keys, pour water on them, and have a fresh set.

It's not one of my favorite abilities. I can also make origami t-shirts out of dollar bills and whistle a flawless rendition of "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard". I'd much rather talk about those, but I didn't think they would make interesting stories. Plus, I don't want to rub my amazing whistling and folding abilities in your face. Well, maybe just this once.

I learned to whistle when I was a little girl. I learned to whistle well when I was a big girl in the summer before my junior year of high school. My brother, he whistles, whistles very well indeed. It would not surprise me if he could whistle flawless renditions of not only "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard" but also Handel's "Messiah" in four-part harmony all by himself. Anyway, every time he would visit, I would want to whistle too, except I was kinda lousy. My skills were weak. I set out to change that, so on the occasions where I decided whistling was appropriate, I could do so with a nice, clear, strong sound.

That summer, I attended a camp for nerds called Summer Ventures where I learned about cellular biology, snails, and whistling. I whistled every day, all the time. You could hear me coming down the hall and recognize me before you ever saw me. This was also due to the fact that I had my keys attached to my wallet, danging out of my back pocket and wore sandals with jingling buckles. With the keys, sandals, and whistling, I was a one-woman band. I didn't even need to attach cymbals to my knees.

By the end of the summer, my whistling skills had improved ten-fold. And they only got better because now I was in the habit of whistling all the time. However, it was not until college that I realized my full whistling potential. One night, I was waiting at Jimmy's Java, and there was a musician playing. He was only a few notes into the song when I recognized it as "Me and Julio". It came to the bridge, where he played his guitar and I whistled quietly to myself. It takes some skill to whistle well quietly, to have that kind of control over your volume. After this great feat, after which I would have been given a standing ovation had anyone heard me, I decided it was probably time to retire.

I took an online course to learn about dollar bill origami. Well, I found a website with step-by-step instructions and did it a couple times so I would remember. It's a fun skill and never fails to impress small children and other easily-impressed people. It's even useful, as you can leave tips to your waitress in the form of small t-shirts and be assured that she will never ever spend it, but keep it with her always in a pocket in the little book she uses to take orders. Unless you leave it to me. I know how to do it myself, so I will happily unfold it and buy myself a t-shirt that fits a little better.

Once I was bored waiting for my check, so I made a t-shirt for my waitress. I left it on the table and went to pay the cashier. My waitress rushed up to the counter and thanked me profusely, because all the other servers had tiny t-shirts in their books but she did not. I left feeling righteous and marked "Do Random Good Deed" off my to-do list for the day.

Keys Again
Now really, I don't want to depress you because you can't whistle or fold money the way I can. So I'll talk about the keys some more to make you feel better. Unless you lose your keys, too, in which case I advise you to stop reading before you do something tragic.

Casey gets frustrated by my key-misplacement abilities. He always ends up waiting for me while I look around the room with narrowed eyes, scratching my chin. Then he begins a short but well-used lecture on the concept of having a place for everything and everything in its place, at which point I stop his lecture to begin my own about how much he loves me.

Boys do not understand. Boys can put their keys in their pockets at all times. Even if you change pants, there are limited possibilities where your keys can be. They are in the pants that jingle and feel heavy on one side. And unless for some reason you buy pants that do that anyway, that's all there is to it.

Girls cannot always do this. Girls have pants that run a little snugger, and I don't care to look like I have cockleburrs or a model of the Sydney opera house in my pants. So I put them down somewhere. Casey tells me to put them in the same place every time. I try to. Rather, I have a series of places I put them down in, and they could be at any one of those locales at any time. They could switch from place to place, and I would never know the difference.

The places, they are sensible places, at least I think so. My nightstand, my desk, my bed, my headboard shelf, my bookshelf, my underwear drawer, my left shoe, my bookbag pocket, my purse, my floor. All excellent places for a set of keys to temporarily live. It is not a matter of my keys not having a specified place, but more that they have too many specified places.

I hope you do not think less of me. You shouldn't, as I gave you two qualities and only one flaw. If I did the math correctly, I should be up one. And if there is ever a desperate situation where it's a matter of finding keys or death to a litter of beagle puppies, maybe you shouldn't call me. However, I think we both know who to call in a desperate whistling situation.

My brother.


wells, cows, and other things that go dry.

It hits you like a rush, the realization that this is it: you've finally run out of things to say. The well and the cow have both gone dry. This time it's for real, you know it. All the other times were just writer's block, this is the real deal. You have nothing to say now, nor will you ever again have anything to put into words for the reading pleasure or disgust of others.

Now that you know, know for sure that you will never again produce another piece of writing in your entire existance, you begin to panic. Mouth goes dry, mind racing, but all you can seem to come up with are metaphors about cows and wells and other things that go dry. What now? What else is there? Your craft is gone, now you're just another regular talentless person muddling through life, drinking beer and watching Monday Night Football. You have gone from artist to human in one terrible epiphany.

You sink lower and lower in your desk chair of woe. You should have been preparing, as you've known all along that this was bound to happen sometime. Why didn't you take up sculpting or guitar or knitting, just on the side, you know, to give yourself another creative outlet when writing finally let you down? Why weren't you prepared?

Your realization was sudden, and your inspiration will be likewise. For some unknown reason, the bucket on the pulley will come up full of water. The cow will milk once more. The words will pour from your mind. And you'll completely forget that you ever had any trouble coming up with what will become this brilliant piece of work. You won't watch Monday Night Football, you won't take up knitting. You will regain every ounce of the confidence in yourself, and will laugh off the silly idea that you will ever stop being inspired, that you will ever stop writing.

Until the next time.


watch out for bears.

I should stop biting my nails. I should've stopped biting my nails a long time ago. Actually, I should have never started biting them. Every time someone takes a smoke break at work, they tell me never to start smoking. I wish someone had taken a nail-biting break about 15 years ago and warned me of the dangers of biting your nails.

For a while, I quit. Not cold turkey, but warm braces. With all that metal in my mouth, I just didn't have a way to put my teeth around the nails and nibble them off. I had long pretty nails while I had braces, but no one noticed my hands because I had so much gleaming steel coming from the vicinity of my face.

Now my teeth look great, better anyway, and my fingertips are a mess. It's not like they taste good; if I had cotton candy-flavored hands then my habit would be justifiable. I have hands-flavored hands, and while it's not a bad flavor, it's not one that will ever be a jelly bean.

It's a fidgety habit, a boredom habit. I bite my nails the most when I'm watching TV, driving, or in class. It's not a sign of tension because none of those things make me tense. If it was something I only did when I was being chased by hungry bears, then that would be another story. Actually, it wouldn't be much of a story at all, since I am rarely chased by bears, hungry or otherwise.

I had a friend in middle school who thought that biting your nails was the nastiest habit ever, though I think she has since found evidence of a few worse ones. She said it was unsanitary. Sometimes I try to use this justification to myself in order to quit, but since I get sick only slightly more often than I get chased by bears, it's an ineffective argument.

They should make a gum, Nailorette gum, that makes you quit biting your nails by occupying your mouth with something else. They could make it taste like cotton candy instead of hands. They could make a patch, too, one that you wear on your upper arm. They couldn't charge as much as they do for the smoking gum and patches, but I bet there are enough nail-biters in the world that someone could make money off the idea. We could start clubs, too, where we all get up, say our names and admit our terrible habit. Then we'd give testimonies and talk about how long it had been since we'd had our last nibbling binge. We'd be an inspiration to the world.

I don't think there will ever be gum or patches or clubs. It's not a serious enough habit. It's a minorly irritating habit, but not life-threatening. I did hear a story about a kid who got appendicitis from biting his nails. All the little nail particles got stuck in his appendix, and it became infected. I guess that's about as serious as it gets though, unless you're in the woods and you wash your hands in the creek. You could get dysentary. Then again, if you're in the woods, you could get chased by bears, too. Maybe you should just stay out of the woods completely.

So I think I should stop. I hear that's the first step, admitting you have a problem or something like that. Then again, every smoker I know says they should stop. They don't. They say this after they tell me to never start and before they light up. I've never told anyone that they shouldn't bite their nails. I don't really give out much advice. Maybe I should start.

Watch out for bears.


the big mermaid.

Edd with two 'd's teaches my scuba class. We're the Thursday night class. There are two Friday night classes, but ours is the best. Rather, ours is the class full of people with priority registration, because no one wants to take a Friday night class. Sometimes a Friday night person comes to our class because they won't be able to make it to theirs. Friday night people are generally uncool.

Edd teaches the class with Regina, who has the same last name, a very unusual last name, but is a very different ethnicity, and lives an hour and a half away from Edd. Their relationship is a mystery to me.

Edd's a funny guy. He has lots of jokes, but they are the kind of jokes that you can tell he tells every time he goes over the same things with a new class. It's all scripted in his lectures. Regina doesn't laugh at the jokes, because she's heard them before. I do, because I haven't and because they are funny the first time. Some of them would be funny the second or third time.

Edd is kind of a sexist, but it's not in an offensive way. He only picks on boys, and always compliments the girls as a whole, even the ugly ones. He calls us "mermaid" except for Meredith, who is very petite and wears all the extra-small gear. He calls her "Little Mermaid". I'm a tall girl, but am relieved he doesn't call me "Big Mermaid". There is a very large male in our class, and he wears all the extra-large gear. Edd picks on him, but the guy takes it very well, I think. That guy could eat about five Merediths.

Scuba class is not cheap. We rent the equipment and buy the textbook. Even if you don't go on the trip at the end of the class, it'll still run you close to $200. I was in a Carpe Diem mood when I signed up for the class, and also when I signed the check made out to Regina. Seizing the day is expensive.

It's an easy class. PE classes aren't made to be hard. The first rule in scuba diving is to always breathe. I'm pretty good at that. I did have to learn some new things, like how to put together equipment and how to clear my airspaces and how not to get drunk on nitrogen. There aren't many difficult concepts in scuba class.

There is one thing I can't do. I can't clear my mask. Edd makes us takes off our masks underwater, put them back on, and then blow the water out with our noses. I always come up with a mask full of water. Meredith, the Little Mermaid, she's my scuba buddy. She says I'm blowing out through my mouth. I wouldn't be surprised. I get so panicked when we have to do that that I can't tell my mouth from my nose. I'd hate to drown in my own mask. It would be terribly embarrassing.

Diving is relaxing, in the pool anyway. You can just float along, take a nap even. Edd says it's the closest to being weightless you'll ever experience without being an astronaut. And since being an astronaut is even more expensive and probably a lot harder, I'm okay to settle for this brand of weightlessness. It seems like there would be a lot more to being an astronaut than just breathing.

We wear wetsuits to stay warm. Meredith wears a special one because she's so little. I wear a medium. They are terribly unflattering to any figure. The one I wear comes down to just above my knees and when I wear it with the scuba booties, my legs look just like Miss Piggy's. I'm glad Casey isn't in the class, or else he might rethink our relationship.

Edd tells us lots of horror stories about diving. He dives for pleasure and also on rescue missions. He says he has lots of tear marks on the shoulders of his wet suits from the fingernails of drowning women. I am skeptical. It's a dangerous sport if you're not careful, but he's only bled underwater once, when a student shot him with a spear gun. I wonder what kind of grade that kid got. I also wonder what kind of kid has a spear gun.

To pass the class, we have to be able to swim 200 yards and tread water for 10 minutes. I think we have to be able to do that next week. I'm a little apprehensive about it. I learned to swim at the neighbor's pool. Sometimes I dog-paddle. I've never swum 200 yards before, and it seems like a long way. I hope we have an unlimited amount of time to do it. I wish we could wear our flippers. Meredith, I think she used to be on the swim team, so she's going to teach me some sort of stroke this week before class. I'd hate to drown in the swimming pool, though it would save me the embarrassment of drowning in my mask.

After the class is over, Edd takes trips to different diving locations so that we can be open-water certified. I want to be certified, even though I don't know that I'll ever use my certification privileges. Maybe this whole class is just me saying to the world, "Hey! I'm young, and I can do whatever I want!" I'm having a mid-life crisis at twenty.

I want to be certified, but I don't know if I'm going on a trip this semester. I don't think it's a good idea to take off a weekend from work in October. Leaves changing colors and whatnot. I'm thinking of waiting until the next round of classes to go. The trips are expensive, too, the cheapest being $100. One of them costs around $350, the one to West Palm. That trip is scheduled for the weekend before my 21st birthday. If it were a week later, I'd probably be more inspired to go.

I like the class, and I like diving, but I'm glad it's almost over. It'll be nice to have Thursday nights free again. I'm a very lazy girl. I'll miss Edd and Meredith and being weightless. I won't miss clearing my mask and having Miss Piggy legs.

I'll miss being a mermaid.


deborah, the print card fairy.

I helped Deborah print today.

I don't actually know Deborah. I only know her name because it is embroidered on her maroon polo shirt. Her embroidered shirt also says "Maintenance". I suppose she could really be named Florence and work in Accounting and just wear the shirt to trip people up, but somehow I doubt it. In any case, I was fooled.

Deborah came into the computer lab to print a page off the internet. She's never used the printers in here before, and asked me for help. Actually, she asked a guy named Steve sitting outside using his labtop, but he told her to ask the Lab Op, which would be me. I know his name is Steve because I know him personally. He needs no embroidery.

I sat her down and walked her through the steps of printing. She navigated to the Fisher Price web site, where she opened a .pdf file (an Adobe Acrobat file). It was a coloring book page, with a cowgirl with a horse and a connect-the-dot game. I asked her if she was planning on doing some coloring today. She smiled and said it was for a birthday party. I didn't ask her if it was for her birthday.

We printed two copies of the page, which took up all the money on her print card. Then she went back to print two more copies, depleting the funds on yet another print card. She knew the process by now, so I left her alone and went back to the nothing I was focusing on before she came in.

Five minutes later, Deborah left the lab, saying goodbye and thanking me as she left. I happened to turn around and look at the terminal that controlled the printer. There were five print cards sitting there next to the printer. Five. Print cards are valuable currancy here, no one just abandons them unless there's no money on them. And no one ever has five to abandon. I checked two of them, and both had either no money at all or exactly one penny.

This is the scenario I dreamed to explain the Five Print Card Phenomena.

In her line of work, Deborah finds things. I think she only works in this building, but that's four floors of careless college students. This building houses four departments: Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, and Computer Science. There are three computer labs that I know about, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were a couple others that the other departments use. And so Deborah pushes her broom around the building and finds all manner of things, pencils, pens, notebooks, and print cards. Deborah is like the print card fairy, only she doesn't leave any money. Maybe she leaves Fisher Price coloring pages instead.

It all makes perfect sense. I have solved the mystery, as well as proved that Deborah could not work in Accounting.

Her name could still be Florence.


the beef people.

My first summer job was as a cashier at Winn Dixie. It wasn't a bad job, certainly was easy enough. I just had to be friendly and run things past a scanner. There was a little bit more to it than that, but not much.

The job made me feel kinda old, since I had just graduated from high school, and I was working with a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. I didn't know anyone, since the store was in a different town. I didn't fit in, but I didn't particularly mind. They all seemed so high school, and fitting in with them was not what I wanted to be. It made lunchtime a little lonely. After I got to feeling entirely too pathetic sitting in the parking lot, I decided to drive to a nearby park and eat there. Equally pathetic, probably, but at least lower profile. Another disadvantage to being the girl no one knew was the fact that none of the baggers would bag for me unless it was absolutely necessary. They tended to hang out with the cashiers they were friends with, even when I was obviously elbow deep in canned goods and frozen pizzas.

As with any job, I learned some things about people and about grocery stores. I learned that food stamps are often not used wisely. I learned that baby food was the most fun thing to ring up ever. I learned which baggers were the best, and which were worthless. I learned that patches and gum that help you stop smoking are really expensive. I learned that the bathroom was straight down aisle 10. I learned that "Red Line 1" was in fact red. But mostly, I learned produce numbers.

Each fruit and each vegetable has a four digit number, starting with 4. Rather than use barcodes, you ring them up using these numbers. It became my goal to learn a new produce number every day, since looking them up was such a pain and made you look inefficient and stupid. Bananas were the first one everyone learned, because they're the most commonly bought. Most everything else sold more during particularly times of the year or when they were on sale. Bananas always sold. But soon I added canteloupe and broccoli to my repetoire. Then baking potatoes, leaf lettuce, sweet onions, limes. My head was swimming with them. Late that summer, I was hanging out with some friends in a room where there was a bowl of wax fruit. Suddenly, I realized I was naming the numbers of every piece of fruit. Yeah, I know my friends were impressed.

That summer was really the only time I worked at Winn Dixie. I worked a couple of weeks over Christmas, but when I moved to Boone, it was pointless to keep my shirt and badge. But I'll never forget my first job and the valuable lessons I learned there.

Bananas are 4011.