Tag Archives: shopping

cracked.

Innocence shattered. A broken reputation. A Cub Scout criminal. My initiation into the wrong side of the law was on a hot summer Sunday afternoon in 1968, when I was just a sun-kissed, freckle-faced, blond-haired skinny kid who was barely 11 years old.

My family had just moved into a newly built home in West Goshen Township. It was a small brick and stucco ranch house on a dead end street situated on a level sixth of an acre. I remember thinking upon entering the side kitchen door and then walking through the dining room, the living room and hallway that it seemed like it took hours to get to my own bedroom in THIS castle. Echoed footsteps on hardwood floors shadowed me from where we moved in our small cramped apartment in the country. I no longer had to share a room with my brother and I no longer had to sleep in the bunk beds of youth.

Freedom for sure… but at what price?

This particularly warm Sunday in June about a month after we moved in, my parents had invited some of our relatives over for a house warming party. The back yard was dotted with aqua blue and sunshine yellow folding web-woven lawn chairs. Red, white and blue Budweiser cans littered a plastic table cloth covered picnic table, as a brand new “colonial orange” charcoal briquette-filled grill from Sears Roebuck puffed white smoke. Several of my laughing aunts and uncles tossed colorful lawn darts toward circular targets among weaving toddlers. Sure, the game was dangerous, but my family was all about living on the edge… and on this day, the family tree was swayin’ and making this branch take a lawless twist to the ground.

In the late afternoon, several of my similarly–aged cousins and I had become bored of the back yard festivities and determined (after we checked with our parents, of course) that perhaps we needed to explore this new uncharted neighborhood and some of its adjoining wild territories. We voted to take a short walk nearby to the newly opened West Goshen Shopping Center across Paoli Pike. We were an eager handful of energetic youngsters looking for an adventure of discovery. We clapped and sang our own made up songs as we strolled to the end of this new street.

Once we crossed the highway, the group of us ran down a hill like an invading army and quickly filled the sleepy “Thrift Drug” store. It was the only store in the whole shopping center that was open on Sundays. We located a large freezer toward the front of the store and began to grab at the boxes of cold, colorful selections of flavored “Twin Popsicles.” The popsicles cost a nickel and they were just what we needed to cool down on this steamy day.

The shopping center was full of stores that were closed on Sundays and was anchored by the ACME Supermarket. The center also included a Hallmark card store, a book store, a Woolworths 5 and 10, a corner hardware store, a men’s clothing store called Ward & Ward and other assorted smaller stores that time has fogged from my memory.

As we sucked the frozen juice of the pops, we left the drug store and came out into the warm summer heat. We headed a short distance toward the ACME where there were groups of neatly stacked chrome shopping carts just begging for our attention. They were all lined up in a straight row of glistening metal baskets on wheels.

I’m not sure exactly who decided to pull a cart out from the pack and start pushing it, but soon the older cousins and I had the smaller kids inside the carts as we shoved them over the sidewalks of the shopping center. Their squeals of laughter at riding in these buggies provoked us to push faster as we raced each other in a frenzy of four-wheeled fun. Back and forth we went, occasionally bumping into each other while the sweaty tiny passengers with cherry red Popsicle lips were giggling at the metallic crash that the carts would echo under the awning of our cement sidewalk “street.” We continued smashing into each other creating loud metal on metal crashes.

“Faster!” the kids would scream. “We want to go to the train station over there!” as they pointed their tiny fingers across the lot. They were indicating that the Ward and Ward Men’s store entrance was the station where we would pretend to fuel our carts and load and unload our tiny passengers. Ward and Ward had an indented entrance. Their doorway was off the main sidewalk allowing their floor to ceiling height windows to display more suits, slacks, shirts, neckties and shiny shoes. It was the PERFECT “train station.”

We quickly made it a race to see who could get there first, bumping each other along the short path to the “station.” There was room for two or three of our carts to be in this “station” area at a time. I had two of my little cousins in my cart as we spun around quicker, now in circles in a race in this tiny vestibule of glass. I too, the driver, was getting dizzy as we laughed then choked as we gasped for air. Suddenly, my cart got out of control and SMASHED directly into the front large glass window of the shop.

It was as if slow motion took over as I remember watching my small cousins turn white from the shock of crashing into the window. I remember watching the glass crack from the point of impact then shatter in large pieces as a deafening alarm went off echoing even louder in the cramped area. I watched in open-mouthed amazement as the cart actually continued traveling into the shop itself as my cousins hopped out of the cart onto crunching glass and out of the store as they ran past me.

I froze. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t move. All I heard was the shrieking alarm and my feet were glued to the floor of the sidewalk. As I turned slowly around, I could see all my cousins running toward home, a few of them looking back with frightened faces to see if I was coming. “Come on Eddy!” they mouthed, “We have to get home now!” I was still stuck to the ground as my numbed mind began to awaken and I started to run. My cousins were almost near the highway as I tried to pick up my lagging, dreamlike pace.

Suddenly I heard the loud wails of sirens. Quickly, flashing red and blue lights were everywhere as I panicked and stopped in my tracks. I was immediately surrounded by West Goshen Police cars, with no way out. I watched as my cousins crossed the highway in the distance and were quickly out of sight.

I was an emotional child growing up. I was very shy and would cry at the drop of a hat. I once cried to get out of a school holiday play in the second grade so I wouldn’t have to put on a homemade doctor’s uniform to the girl’s nurses costumes. It was pathetic. And now, with this shattered window fiasco, I began to tear up thinking I was going to jail for a very long time.

I stood there motionless as the two policemen approached me with pads of paper out and looking like they were ready to cart me off to some unknown prison in the bowels of a West Goshen Township Building somewhere. The alarm continued to scream as I imagined a diet of bread and water and a hard iron holed bed with no mattress and I began to sob. This was no way to begin my initiation into this new neighborhood. I cried harder still, as the two policemen looked at each other and shrugged. The taller one put his hand on my shoulder and asked me to take a seat in the back of his still flashing police car. I was devastated. I could see a handful of Sunday shoppers looking at me. I was ashamed. I became a criminal that day.

The store’s alarm finally stopped.

My ears still ringing, I watched in silence as the policemen took notes, observed the scene of the crime, took a few measurements and put up some yellow tape. Was I going to be on the news? Would my name be in the paper? Would I get out of doing my math homework? I was contemplating my ruined future as my Dad rolled up in his black Ford Falcon with red bucket seats. Tears began to pour down my cheeks as he strolled up to the police officers while he glanced my way.

All I could think of was that I JUST got a new bed room and now I wouldn’t get to use it. What would my Mom think? Would my family have to move from their new home in shame? My Dad was making gestures and continued to talk as the tall officer continued to write on his yellow pad. Finally, Dad turned and started to walk toward me. I couldn’t read his face through my red and throbbing eyes. He told me to get out of the car and to hop in his. I stood as he slipped his arm around my shoulder and whispered that I would have to pay for the shattered window.

I never did.

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all this talk about debt ceilings is making me hungry.

The roast chicken is in the oven. I prepped the 8-pound bird first by shoving a large orange with a few well-placed cloves up its ass without so much as a last name and a kiss. Ouch. Then I proceeded to forcefully thrust some fresh twigs of rosemary and sprigs of thyme up in there for good measure. Sort of had a quick flashback to an online porn movie that involved a chicken (I think) and a hand (I think) that I viewed once by mistake that was like watching a train wreck…

ANYway… I continued by cutting up half a sweet onion to line the roasting pan and I also poured about a cup of organic chicken stock in the pan for moisture. I dotted the chicken’s skin with fresh garlic, cracked pepper medley and a touch of ground sea salt. It should be done in a couple of hours. I have some fresh sweet corn on the cob and a couple of heads of fresh broccoli to steam, a few flavored martinis to shake and lo and behold, we have a great meal to celebrate our second weekly “NO TECHNOLOGY” night!

We’ve decided to have one night a week where we lock up (not literally of course) our laptop, television and while leaving the cell phones ON for emergencies, we put them DOWN on the nightstand. This was part of our “plan” to reintroduce more conversation and um… more SEX back into our growing relationship. We tried this last week after I got home from work at 9 pm., so it REALLY was only about a couple of hours of technology withdrawal, but we did fine. Tonight will be several more hours than that and I have YET to finish this blog and get to Level 34 in my “Garden of Time” game on Face Book before Daryl comes in the door!

I’ve given up cigarettes, cursing and sugar much fucking easier than this.

We have other “nights” too that we agreed are most likely necessary to increase communication and foster good will toward each other on a daily basis. For instance, last evening we had our first official “budget meeting.” We actually sat down at the dining table with cocktails in hand and discussed our budget. Lord knows we like to spend money like the political parties that we represent, but we want to find ways to do a little less spending and a lot more saving. You know… like the government. We want to find that proverbial debt ceiling. We ain’t getting’ any younger and the “R” word (retirement) really needs to take a front seat in this relationship. We even went out one night a few weeks ago as part of the process to get a “budget book” to record our daily expenditures so we could get a “snapshot” of our woefully wallet-less ways.

Now mind you, we have only been at this for a week, but I am already having misgivings about our spending habits. Maybe I should say MY spending habits. I do most of the grocery shopping as some of my earliest blogs have indicated… but how can two men require close to $300 of groceries in less than a week? We cut out sugar for Christ’s sake! We’re not eating fast food at all anymore! I shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh fish and chicken, organic yogurts and snacks fill the cupboards now. We’re losing weight, but at the same time, we’re losing our cash!

Sure, I could do that “X-treme” couponing that I hear about. They even have a TV show about it I think. Some woman makes it her JOB to find out how to get two free rolls of paper towels and a dozen eggs with her grocery order. I just CAN’T bring myself to get THAT involved with coupon shopping. Daryl suggested that perhaps we eat more leftovers. I already DO that and I swore at the onset of this relationship that I’d never eat the same thing two days in a row damn it! How much more do I have to sacrifice? How much more can we take?

No wonder the government can’t get their (read: OUR) act together with this budget thing. Maybe they too should learn to eat leftovers. I’ve decided that the only ceiling I want to be aware of from now on is the one I see when I lay down on my bed to have sex during our “no tech” night.

I better go baste that chicken and mix up the cocktails before the keyboard is ripped from my clawing fingersssssss…

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That FIRST Father’s Day after…

Dad on his boat, where he always seemed to be the happiest.

My Dad passed away last year two days after Christmas of heart failure. It was quick and, according to medical professionals, painless. I’m grateful for that and I believe my Dad would be grateful for that as well. He was a very proud hard–working man’s man who would have found it undignified to have withered away slowly and painfully, having to depend on others for his personal care.

It’s still odd that I can’t pick up the phone to wish him a Happy Father’s Day this first year without him. Something I took for granted. He had JUST learned to “text” from his phone. Something I’m sure he learned in order to stay in touch with his granddaughters. We would exchange text messages and I would always joke with him by teaching him to use emoticons and to sign off with “c u soon!” I’d criticize his typos and he’d LOL. I still have that last Holiday text wish on my phone. I still have his number on my phone as well. I just can’t delete it yet, as he may decide to call me someday if the brimstone and fire haven’t melted his phone yet.

I wanted to get a card for him while I was at the mall last week returning a shirt. I just wanted to get a Father’s Day card and send it SOMEwhere… ANYwhere really. I was frustrated with that a bit. I was also annoyed that the mall was decorated for “DAD’s DAY.” Photos and banners EVERYwhere indicating that Dad deserved this tie or that shirt. How could this “holiday” even go on without my Dad? I remember when I was younger and I would be at the mall with my Dad on the very rare occasion that he would go. I would always get so frustrated because he’d “dawdle.” He wasn’t a shopper. He’d walk so damn slow. It frustrated the hell out of me. I miss it now.

I don’t think any of us ever think our Fathers will leave this world really. We think them indestructible. Honestly, later in life, when I realized he was a mere mortal and full of flaws, I came to love him deeply and unconditionally. The funny thing about that was he did the same to me… accepting my own midlife “crisis” of coming out.

I think he’d find comfort in knowing something that Dad’s RARELY if EVER get to hear while living… “Dad, you did a great job with what you were given. I appreciate you and thank you for that.” Say it to YOURS today and as many other days as you can.

I’ll finish this blurb about my Dad with just a few words to describe him. He was a simple man and I think he’d appreciated this.

Flawed. Funny. Proud. Humble. Hard working. Dedicated. Sailor. Protector. Accepting. Quiet. Confident. Silver Hair. Thick glasses. Over-achiever. Annoying. Loved his family. Cash, never credit. Fast cars. Fast boats. Slow boats. Stubborn. And last but not least… he was a DEVOTED Dallas Cowboys fan from the word GO.

Love you Dad. Miss u much!

Your son,

Edwin Leroy Williams, Jr.

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mistah weems.

I have a dry cleaner lady. Actually, now that I think about it, she has ME.

Her name is Cwisteen which I think means Christine in Chinese. I asked her her name once and that’s what I’ve been calling her since. She’s ALWAYS in the store alone and she always asks me “was yu fone numbah Mistah Weems?” when I enter. I have shirts, ties and suits that I have cleaned there weekly. It’s on my way TO and FROM work and I can’t argue with the convenience. She will always tell me, “u pay lateh, u pay lateh!” when I pick something up. I assumed that she was always too busy to figure out my bill each time.

I have been going to her religiously for over five years now, except when I boycotted her one winter because she lost a jacket of mine. I eventually came back with my neckties between my knees because with her pricing, I could buy a new jacket to replace the missing one anyway.

Last Monday morning traffic was light and I was running ahead of schedule. I stopped in to drop off a suit and blurted, “Good morning Christine!”startling even ME with my cheerful tone. After the usual phone number inquiry, she stated that “yu owe sixty fow dowahs.” Still not quite awake and my hearing not well lubricated as of yet, I muttered, “What did you say?” “Sixty fow u owe. I cut u break, you give me sixty okay?” she asked making eye contact. “U take sukah. Take two sukahs,” she said pointing to a hand painted basket loaded with “dum dum” lollypops.

I wondered silently if she was subliminally calling me a sucker? I get paranoid about things like that. Once I was in a Chinese restaurant and I noticed several waiters mumbling in their native tongue, giggling and pointing in my direction. I assumed they were making fun of my large almond shaped eyes, my thick dirty blond hair and my huge package. I picked up my fork with continued nervousness as I finished eating my sesame chicken.

“How bissniss?” she asked as I gave Christine my debit card. As she swiped it, I answered “fine,” took three dum dum lollypops, carried my suits to the car and went to work.

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we’re leaving Candyland.

Daryl and I love testing the bounds of our relationship, so we have decided we’re going to attempt to give up sugar. Or at a minimum, reduce the intake of sweetness into our diet. We’re waving goodbye to “Gumdrop Mountains,” “Lollypop Woods” and “Peppermint Stick Forest.”

It sort of started as we finished up a 24 ounce bag of multi-colored marshmallow circus peanuts the other night while watching a rerun of the GLEE episode entitled “Funeral.” I turned to Daryl and loudly declared, “No more sugar will be allowed in this home!” in a voice that sounded like Columbus shouting “Land HO!” upon seeing the shoreline of America for the first time. Daryl looked up from a bag of Twizzlers like a dog that just got caught eating a stuffed chair, nodded and proceeded to quietly seal the bag. I’m still not sure if it was out of respect to my latest declaration, or just out of plain fear.

Having near perfect communication techniques, we paused the DVR and briefly discussed this newest lifestyle change as we jointly decided that our goal will to become more AWARE of the processed sugar in our daily diet in an attempt to alter our snacking habits as well as the actual snacks that we consume in the smorgasbord of our condo that we call the coffee table.

I gazed wistfully at the pretty blue bag of “Family Size” Herr’s potato chips, a 2 pound zip lock bag of Twizzlers, the empty Circus Peanuts bag and a half eaten container of Pumpkin Seeds strewn all over our round coffee table. I decided that I needed to take dramatic and drastic action immediately so I tossed all of the snacks into the trash (well… immediately after Daryl left the room). I truly value the honesty in our relationship, so I also covered the discarded snacks with a few AARP mailings I received earlier in the week just in case Daryl decided to throw something out later in the evening. I was not in the mood for him chastising me for throwing away perfectly good food. I did realize later that some of the snacks tossed were already sugar free, but when I get overly dramatic I don’t think properly.

I must admit, however, that I always feel a little proud when we make a joint decision to choose a lifestyle change for the better. We did it with quitting smoking a year or so ago, so a sugar free diet should be a piece of cake!

The challenge continues.

While out with some of our health-conscious friends at a recent Sunday evening happy hour while enjoying my second “punch-a-tini,” I solicited suggestions for low or no sugar snack-like alternatives. Some of the standard (albeit caring) responses included yogurt, fruit, granola and rice cakes. Perhaps Daryl and I should move to southern California, break out the Rit dye and some rubber bands and tie-dye our wardrobe as well? I feel like we’d be impersonating that health food guy who used to be on TV in the 70’s wearing flannel shirts while munching on a piece of wheat who touted eating whole grain cereals by plucking the product directly from a sun strewn meadow with birds flying around his head. I read that he actually died of heart failure a few years after that, which brings up a point of doubt and contention.

What if we actually eat healthier to live longer, but we die early anyway?

What if our last meal before we get hit by a bus should consist of a dry turkey burger (without the bun), spinach salad and a few legumes thrown in for digestive purposes, when it COULD have been a trip to Five Guys Burgers with a stop at Dairy Queen for a shake? I guess like everything else in life, we’ll have to learn balance and moderation.

Sigh.

The stress of all this eating healthy may kill me first. The stress of shopping for healthier items might kill me as well. Who truly has the time to spend reading every label for sugar, fat, sodium and caloric content at the grocery store? I’m suggesting a personal shopper. Have the Super Market chains take all those extra text-manic teen “baggers” and turn them into something truly productive, right?  I’d imagine that you’d enter the store and you’d have a choice to pick a trained personal shopper who would accompany you and assist in selecting food items for you depending on your particular diet or requirement. Need low sodium items? You chose Sally Saltfree. Perhaps you’re on a low cholesterol diet? Ask for Bernie Bypass. Need to shop strictly to lose weight? Miss Anita Waist is your gal!

I digress.

Daryl and I will give this latest health conscious decision a go. We really enjoy testing the bounds of our relationship with healthier choices, however, I shall miss it when Daryl uses Twizzlers to spell out “I love you!” on the counter as a romantic snack. I hope I can truly get over the fact that a pack or two of “Smarties” really DON’T make me smarter, and I plan to avoid Ben and Jerry like the plague that they are. I’m still stumped by trying to figure out which soda mixers to use for our cocktails, but perhaps we’ll just go directly to doing straight shots.

Hopefully, our relationship will survive this denial of the sweet tooth. Last evening, while watching TV, we made snacks (that honestly looked like something the cat threw up) in our matching “HIS” and “HIS” ice cream bowls of Chobani Greek yogurt with fresh strawberries, blueberries and granola. I looked at Daryl and sighed, “See? This is pretty good isn’t it?” to which Daryl grinned and replied, “Especially with the sugar I sprinkled over the strawberries first!”

Stay tuned.

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just make a wish and blow…

Just call me Santa Claus! Or maybe I’m the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Glinda the Good Witch all rolled up into one.

Daryl asked for a “ménage á trois”  for his birthday, and lo and damn behold I got him one (see photo). How the heck did he know that the wine store would even have that? Funny huh?

I’m just glad he didn’t ask for a million dollors, a new car or a buff boyfriend ’cause I didn’t see them in the bordeaux aisle.

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Wanted: Hunk to pop out of cake.

Daryl’s Birthday is next Wednesday and I have no idea what to get him this year.

Us at Rehoboth for Daryl's 50th Birthday in 2010.

I wanted to make his gift something special this year. Last year, for his 50th, I took him to the Boardwalk Plaza in a third floor beachfront room in Rehoboth, Delaware with a cake, a bottle of wine and balloons “waiting” in the room when we arrived. I’m thinking, I need to top that (pun intended).

I hate this pressure though. Always have. Now mind you, the man is most likely THE easiest man to buy for, but it’s not really about HIM anyway, is it? It’s about ME and how I’m going to come across to others.

The last thing I want is for one of Daryl’s co-workers or family members to ask him next Thursday, “So what did Ed get you for your birthday?” and for Daryl to reply, “Oh we don’t get each other gifts, we’re just blessed to have each other and our health… sigh.”

Puke! I can already see the judgmental stares and distasteful comments stabbing me in the back!

Straight women, hags, and homos everywhere will be thinking “What does Daryl SEE in Ed anyway? How could a gay man NOT get his adoring partner an expensive gift for his birthday; a piece of jewelry, a watch or perhaps a Mercedes?” while thinking, “I sure hope SOMEone in the relationship is at least hung and extraordinary in bed for him not to even get flowers for his special day.”

I struggled with it folks! I truly did! I searched for HOURS on the internet for ideas (read: porn). I tried to brainstorm from watching TV (read: Planet Earth marathon on the Discovery Channel), I even went to the mall to shop (read: that Toll House Cookie store is a curse!).

I came up with nothing.

I KNOW Daryl well enough to realize that offering him a “surprise three way” with the stud of his choice is just NOT gonna cut it as a gift (right Bub?!) and our nightstands already don’t close due to a plethora of phallic shaped toys, games and videos, so what’s a partner to do?

I’m off on Monday, so I’ll put a little time aside to think some more on how to make it look like I pondered for weeks on a gift. In the meantime, ideas are welcome.

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