Sunday, October 3, 2010

The theory of relativity…

So today I thought we’d tackle an interesting subject:  the theory of relativity.  No, silly, not the Einstein theory, you know the E=mc2 thing.  Didn’t you read my first blog?  Remember when I said “erudite I am not”?  Well, then you’d know I’m not speaking of relativity in those terms!  No, I’m talking about the relativity that each and every one of us determines for ourselves every single day.
How rich is rich?  How poor is poor?  Do Bill Gates and Oprah think of themselves as rich?  Good golly, I sure hope so!  Or do they think of themselves as comfortably well off?  How thin is thin and how fat is fat?  Oh, let’s not go there.  I knew I was overweight, but when I figured out my BMI and discovered I was “morbidly obese,” well, let’s just say I was distressed.  Oh, not over the fact that I was overweight.  Like, duh, I knew that!  I just didn’t like having the label “morbidly” attached to it.  I mean. I speak a couple of languages.  I know the term morbid comes from the Latin and refers to a diseased or unhealthy state and the root of the word stems from the Latin for “death.”  But, hey, for those of us who are not doctors who deal with death and disease all the time, to us common folk it usually conjures up ideas of ghoulish delight, black moods and, well, just not fun!  I’m fun! 
But I digress.  The whole point is that everyone, everyone, views everything differently.  And that’s a good thing.  Oh, we may have friends and acquaintances with whom we have more in common than others, but we still view things through our own individual whacky perspective.
Take the rich part we spoke about before.  I got caught in the middle of an argument once between an older friend from Chili and a teenage friend staying with her from Mexico.  Seems when I walked in, the older friend was highly insulted because her young Mexican friend had said, Wow, you must be rich, after seeing the mink stole in the closet.  So who do you think she turned to for an explanation that you do not have to be rich to own a mink stole?  Yeah, right, me!  Well, gee, I was totally in agreement with the teenager from Mexico.  I mean, I could have listed in five seconds flat the things I’d much rather spend money on than a mink stole.  Our little Mexican friend could probably have listed in that same time at least 20 necessities her family could use, and I don’t think a mink would have been on that list!  So I weaseled my way out (pardon the not very good pun) by falling back on my being a vegetarian and not approving of mink stoles, so I didn’t have an opinion.  Yeah, I know, more of a chicken than a weasel!
My mother is a pragmatist.  I’m a dreamer.  We could not be more distant in our personal views than any two people could be.  She calls herself frugal; I just call it cheap.  But she went through the war in Europe living off Spam and Brussels sprouts and I grew up during the good old Happy Days where you waited for nothing and charged everything.  She’s British, and they seem to take great delight in suffering; I’m American and suffering generally means having to wait in a very long line for tickets to a long-awaited concert.
I remember once taking her to Home Depot with me.  It was back when my daughter was young and we had a little house in Yadkinville, NC.  I saw these really great plans for a play center (jungle gym, swing set, a little clubhouse thing on top) and I was beside myself with ecstasy!  Oh, I thought, what a great idea.  I could just see my daughter having a ball on that thing.  And the fun of putting it all together!  Well, enough said!
The plans were $30.  The lumber was all listed out on the plans with the approximate cost attached, about $275.  (Those Home Depot folks are brilliant, aren’t they?)  I could get the plans now and the lumber when I was actually ready to build!
But my mom was with me.  “What do you want to waste your money on that for,” she queried with great disdain.  “You know you’ll never get around to building it; it’s just a waste of money and you can’t afford to through away $30 on junk like that.”
I put the plans back, said nothing, and went into a deep funk for a week and a half, and determined never to take my mom to Home Depot ever again.  After a while I finally sat myself down and tried to determine what was depressing me so much.  I knew she was probably right and I’d never get around the building the thing.  It was really cool, though!  But it wasn’t the fact that I might never get around to it.  I finally figured it out.  It wasn’t the completion of the project that was important to me; it was the dreaming and planning.  Man, I could have ridden that dream for at least 1 ½ years, maybe even more!  Even with a conservative estimate of 1 ½ years (547.5 days) that $30 would break down to about five cents a day! What a bargain!!   And if I got 2 or 3 years’ worth of dreams out of it … Whew, that’s a bonanza!  I could pull them out periodically, make lists of materials, go to Home Depot at least 10 times to check out prices and plan on what to buy when, do a budget looking forward to buying the materials in stages, figure out the sun and how it affected the ¾ acre yard so I could settle on just the perfect spot.  Then of course, there was ground preparation to think about, as well as what kind of treatment to put on the ground to prevent scraped knees.  Oh, given the time, I’m sure I could have stretched that dream out to perhaps 4 or 5 years.  By then Becka would have been too old for it and I could put the plans away, but, dang, that’s a whole 5 years’ worth of draming!!!  But it wasn’t to be.  My dreams were snatched away by the level-headed, pragmatic mind of my mother, who never, ever learned how to dream.
There is one thing, however, on which I agree with my mom:  haircuts.  I wanted to take her to get her hair cut last month.  She’s been complaining and complaining about it.  She doesn’t like the style.  When the style was changed, she doesn’t like that one either.  Now she’s saying she should get a perm.  Her hair is as straight and limp as can be!  And it’s short!  Not much styling you can do with it, I’m afraid.  And now, 90 years old and she wants a perm!  She hasn’t had once since she was around 45 or 50!  But I told her I’d found a stylist recommended by a friend and at least she could get a good haircut, have it shaped nicely so that she could have something more stylish that she could care for.  First words out of her mouth were, “How much?”  “Only $25,” I said delighted that I’d found such a bargain and knowing that it would probably be more in the end, but planning on paying the extra myself and never telling her that.  “I’m not spending that kind of money on a haircut,” she snorted.  And that was the end of that.  Even when I told her what haircuts usually cost, she was not deterred.  That was TOO big a waste of money.
And what about me?  I’ll pay $4 for a latte from Starbucks, buy cookbooks I have no time to use and have a house full of gym equipment upstairs and down still waiting for me to set up a regime, dust them off and really use them.  A couple of months ago I bought a ukelele.  Well, I’ll get around to learning how to play it eventually.  Really, I will.  Of course, that means giving up the time I’ve spent unsuccessfully trying to learn to play the piano.  And there is that part about the strings on a uke not staying tuned which does annoy me.  I probably should have bought a mandolin instead.  I wanted a banjo, but with arthritis starting, I’ll probably never get around to learning to pick well.  And when I tried the violin, I’m sure they gave me a smaller one than usual because my fingers were too fat to place on the strings properly.  Of course, the guitar is still collecting dust in the corner, but at least it’s always there should I got back to playing that.  I just had such trouble with those pesky chords that required a wide had span.  Oh, where was I?  Oh, yeah, haircuts. 
So the question is:  will I spend money on a haircut?  What are you, crazy???
Well, I have convinced myself that the reason I won’t do that is not because I’m cheap like my mom, it’s one of protest!  Yes.  Remember, I am a child of the Protest Generation.  We protested everything we possibly could.  Still I recall that couple marching in front of the White House during my senior high school trip.  It’s really hard to take a protester seriously when on one side of their sign they have in big letter “Bomb Hanoi,” and on the other side they have, “Rent a protester, $11 an hour.”
But getting back to the haircut protest, I had a local guy who cut my hair for $12.  Yeah, tell me about it!  Bargain, huh? Well, in all fairness, he didn’t have to wash it (I did that before I went there and it was usually still wet when I got there) and he just cut the thing down to a nub while he ranted about politics, or kids today, or how a lot of contestants on Sheer Genius (a reality show for hair stylists) were really not much more talented that he was.  And then he charged me $12, plus I gave him a $4 tip, and that was it, until the next time I couldn’t stand my hair anymore and went back for another pass of the lethal scissors.  A lot of people stopped going there because no matter what they asked for, they all got the same short, short, short haircut.  I don’t think he meant to do that; he was just too busy ranting about other things.
But that did not dissuade me.  No, what turned me off was the fact that you never knew what you were going to pay or when you would get in.  I went once for a 5 o’clock appointment (yes, I made an appointment!) but he was the only one working and had one person in the chair and another who was sitting, waiting to be seen.  So I said, Okay, I’ll go get a latte (I mean, any excuse, right?) and come right back.  So Becka and I went for a latte at the new shop two doors down and, in the meantime, someone else came in and sat down who he was going to take ahead of me because they came in while I was gone.  I left, having way to many other demands on my time that day, only to be told at my next appointment that I had never shown up for the last one.  Whoa!  I was there at the appointed time; I just couldn’t stand around waiting for all the walk-ins to go ahead of me, I protested. 
So I got my haircut, went to the register and said, “How much?” as I always stupidly do.  “$12,” he said, looking me up in the computer/cash register/appointment scheduler thingy.  “Okay,” I said, pulling out a $20 bill.  “Oh,” he said, looking at the cash in my hand, “I mean $14.” Yeah, not the first time they’d done that to me, but it was the last.
So, as you know, for the past two weeks I’ve been working so hard I didn’t even have time to write!  My hair had grown and grown to horrible lengths.  I was thinking of changing my name to Rapunzel but wasn’t sure how to spell it.  This weekend was the first one I had without work in months!  So Friday night after work I thought I’d treat myself.  After weeks of hair falling over my bespectacled eyes and having to shake my head like Cher every two minutes to get it off my face, I had to get it cut!!!  Yep!  I got home, watched some telly, ate some dinner and then …..  took out the shears and cut off all my hair! 
Now, that’s not totally out of my mind.  I mean, sure, I usually cut it myself, and sure I usually use scissors, but the offending mop on top of my head and gone too far this time!  I couldn’t spend all weekend snipping here and there (especially behind my head where I can’t see, it takes a very long time for me to cut it all evenly, you know), so I just shaved it all off.  Now, don’t get excited, it’s not like that bald Irish singer chic whose name I can’t remember; it’s respectably short, just really short.  But come on!  What was I to do?  I did get a compliment on it today, so it can’t be all that bad.  Besides, to my way of thinking, I can’t mess it up too much, ‘cause, before long, it will have all grown back.
Really, we’re not talking brain surgery here, and you don’t have to be a genius to cut your own hair.  However, speaking of geniuses, Einstein really could have used a good pair of shears.  But I guess it’s all a matter of relativity

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