Tuesday, May 4, 2010


One of the more delightful parts of aging is that you become prone to moments of Towanda...almost without notice. You know TOWANDA...the inner assertive woman of "Fried Green Tomatoes" fame who allows the Kathy Bates character to cross over from being a doormat to being a force to be reckoned with over the course of the movie.

All Southern women have a touch of Towanda...it appears to be in our DNA. It may be true for Northern women as well...but I think that as a general rule they are usually more direct...and so the unspoken words don't get swallowed only to be regurgitated into pure 100% Towanda. We Southern girls will appear to be handling a situation well, and then another, and another...until some yahoo acts like a horse's behind, and all hell breaks loose.

A Towanda moment is normally - but not always - done quietly but firmly. The sorry excuse for a human being that has encountered a woman channeling her inner Towanda is well aware that there really is no argument. The safest bet is just to say "yes ma'am" as one runs in a serpentine fashion out of the immediate vicinity.

A notable Towanda moment of mine that got supressed and shouldn't have included a luncheon where I wanted to tell a rail thin woman who was complaining about her thighs that she ought to quit eating junk and drinking Diet Coke like it is the only beverage on earth. I ate my salad instead of telling her to just shut her skinny piehole about her five pound "excessive" weight gain. This woman should have been calling every living member of her gene pool and thanking them profusely. I mean...I can gain five pounds in a sitting...not over a lifetime, for heaven's sake. I think that everyone has the right to mull over issues with her friends. But if skinny women want to keep friends, my suggestion is that they find something else to whine about.

Sadly, I have the metabolism of Jabba the Hut. Where other people can eat anything in moderation, I can't even binge on broccoli. I would love to tell you that there is a medical reason for this, but it is just my cross to bear. I dream of days where my attire doesn't include something that is black. Black is the dominant color in the "women's" department. This is because someone decided that black is slimming. The slimming rule only applies to women with a metabolism. The rest of us look like we are working at Bonefish Grill or an Aveda salon...just without the weird hair.

Last week, Towanda and I had a meltdown in an Office Depot over their new checkout line configuration. I was apparently the only person in the store who was unaware of this horrific setup. I railed at a manager for ten solid minutes because they this whole next available cashier line thing that wrapped around and made absolutely no sense. Well, not to me anyway. To participate in checkout, you had to A) know it was there and enter at the proper point around a few shelves trying to sell you last minute must-have items and B) wait forever for the one cashier that they had to do what she was doing. I didn't see the proper way to enter the line...primarily because it wasn't marked or partitioned...and inadvertently jumped in front of someone because the cashier didn't look busy.

I was embarrassed to be told that I was not going to be served next and so I just threw a fit at the injustice of it all right there. Oh, the guy I jumped in front of was PERFECTLY willing to let me go right on with my two items. I declined. So after wearing out a junior manager, I got to talk to the Neanderthal that set this line up with no barriers in the first place. He saw my point, but I'd be willing to bet that nothing has changed. Primarily because somewhere in there I said that I would not be shopping there anymore. And I won't...until the next time I need something. Then I'll send Big Dave in to get it for me.

I had Towanda accompany me to the grocery store the other night when I was in search of a Mojo rotisserie chicken for the bargain price of $5.99. I had been thinking about it all day...and when you are on a restricted diet...it is extraordinarily important that you get food when you need food...for everyone's sake. I walked into the deli at approximately 5:30 p.m. and there was NO CHICKEN. None. No lemon-pepper chicken, barbecue chicken, plain chicken, or other chicken. There were about thirty chickens being cooked...but none would be ready for an hour...or so I was told by "new boy". So, I completed my shopping, checked out, whined about it to the cashier and then took my groceries to the car. And as I turned to leave, Towanda and I decided to go back into the store...

The manager ended up giving me a complimentary chicken that day after he realized that "new boy" couldn't read the timer and that there was only ten minutes remaining. I had to wait and ended up chatting with the manager about advertised items being available during the dinner hour. I had to wait and ended up chatting with the manager about advertised items being available during the dinner hour. I mean, if you are going to have in-house demonstrations and other programs to ensure that people come by your store to pick up dinner...you might want to have dinner available in the form of a $5.99 mojo rotisserie chicken. Oh, he saw my point...and somehow just knew that I was crazy enough to call corporate. And of course...he was right.

I think that for most of us, what sets us off is something that make no sense to a normal person but is presented in a way that assumes that we are going to comply no matter how ridiculous the idea might be. This is my biggest complaint with the current President's administration, the people who dream up coupons that have exclusions on the very item that you want to buy, bills that have a Sunday due date...which means that you have to pay it on Friday or risk a late fee on Monday, closed playgrounds at McDonald's in the morning hours (the things should be cleaned at night or before 8 a.m.), term papers that are due the last week of school when a teacher has had a whole year to teach this but chose to procrastinate (as much as I love teachers), and home based businesses that charge tax on shipping (wrong...just wrong).

Towanda is always a threat with people stuck on stupid (to use a Dave Ramsey saying). You know...those people who ask your opinion...you give it...and then they spend the remaining time arguing why they can't follow the advice that they begged you to give. (Wait, I've done that. But you know what I mean.)

Towanda is that inner woman who just wants a little peace and quiet, a little bit of joy and wonder and a large helping of love and understanding...except that everyone around her keeps acting like complete boneheads.

This week has already been challenging and it is Tuesday morning at 4:22 a.m. as I write this. I don't know why I am up at this particular hour listening to Big Dave's alarm clock going off as he repeatedly hits the snooze button. Oh, I know that there are so many people in this world dealing with much larger issues than the normal aggravations of life. I just feel that I need to do my part to correct what is in my path. Or go down trying.

But this morning I woke up because there is no Tylenol PM at the local CVS and my body thought that six hours of sleep was gracious plenty. I beg to differ. However, I'm tracking down some Tylenol PM from some corner of the universe today...or I will not be responsible for what happens next.

One of the most difficult tasks is to keep Towanda from living in the driver's seat of life in just about everything these days. While she might be effective, she is also occasionally a wee bit extreme. She acts first and thinks later. She sometimes states her view without knowing all of the facts. It is during these moments that we are reminded that she doesn't always represent who God wants us to be.

But there is a place for her sometimes when the obvious needs to be stated and people need to understand that excellent service shouldn't be limited to Ruth's Chris Steak House and Chick-fil-A. When we need to express ourselves in a way that other people can respect...even if they don't necessarily agree with us. When they realize that we don't like their ridiculous policy and we aren't playing the game. And where we can interact with our heads held high instead of feeling like the doormat that some people feel compelled to bring out in us.

I love my inner Towanda. She can make my life a little more difficult than it needs to be sometimes, and she can - and does - occasionally embarrass my children when I am trying to make a point about something to someone in retail. It generally involves coupons, by the way. But I also know that stuffing down one's emotions can eventually turn into a raging volcano inside that is far more destructive than any havoc Towanda might wreak. It is this volcano that causes people to go off the deep end and start losing their ball in the weeds so to speak.

I've taken steps to keep her somewhat in line by trying to do what Jesus would have me do...but even He had a Towanda moment with the moneychangers in the temple. I just hope that I can be assertive without losing what remains of a quiet and gentle spirit that is so pleasing to Him.

But that being said...if Big Dave doesn't deal with that clock...he may meet Towanda this morning. Just sayin'...

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