My sister shared a Christmas-shopping moment the other day: Standing in a crowded store in a crowded mall, trying to find a decent outfit for her teenage granddaughter. The girl and her brother generally get one nice outfit every year, the sorts of splurge-y name brands they wouldn’t normally get. Every kid needs to feel cool at least sometimes.
So she found something, then looked at the price tag: A pair of Baby Phat jeans, juniors size 5. Price: $80.
“Kimora Lee Simmons should be ashamed of herself!” she exploded. I heartily agree (although it has nothing to do with her jeans).
I had my own moment today, in Bath & Body Works. I was buying a few stocking stuffers for a Girl Scout Christmas project — personal-care products for the girls at a local children’s home. I figure one of the thousand petty humiliations of being poor and institutionalized at Christmas is having to settle for everyone’s hand-me-downs, so I was determined to buy something that didn’t say “dollar store.” I went into the ubiquitous mall soap store for some cute crap-in-a-bottle. Picked up a tiny tin of American Girl-branded lip balm. Four-fifty.
“Leslie Wexner should be ashamed of himself!” I said. It didn’t quite have the same ring to it. Not here, anyway — it would play in Columbus. But the day I spend nearly five bucks for two cents’ worth of flavored wax hasn’t yet arrived. I went next door to Rite Aid and loaded up with a bunch of perfectly acceptable stuff and spent around $30.
I shouldn’t even set foot in that store, anyway. It always smells like a chemistry set. Everything under The Limited’s umbrella made its rep selling goods of barely acceptable quality to the greatest number of people. I haven’t trusted the place since I tucked a Victoria’s Secret bra away for six months, and took it out again to find half the elastic had rotted.
Ah, well. We have greater things to discuss today than lip balm. The death of Ike Turner, say.
The way of all flesh, etc. I saw Ike and Tina once, at the Ohio State Fair. Mid-’70s, sometime in there. Tina and the Ikettes wore their trademark minidresses with fringe, and shook that shit into knots. A highly memorable performance. Ike did what Ike always did: He hung back and led the band. From what we know now, Tina already hated his guts by then and was plotting her escape. Their marriage seemed a tragic case of “A Star is Born,” if James Mason had bounced Judy Garland off the walls when he had a snoot full of coke. Rock ‘n’ roll historians are making the case that it’s unfair for the man who gave the world “Rocket 88” to be remembered solely as a wife-beater. Miles Davis was not very nice to his women, either, but it didn’t lead his obituaries. (Note: Davis was also lucky none of them became stars like Tina, or the story might be different.) Two things need to be said about Ike. One, that he was very lucky in the casting of the man who would play him in Tina’s version of her life story. Laurence Fishburne brought something extra to that role and made it memorable. And second, that he found Tina. There wouldn’t have been a Tina without Ike. So there’s that.
I once heard Tina interviewed on “60 Minutes,” and Ed Bradley asked if she’d had any plastic surgery done. She freely admitted to a breast lift and a nose job, the latter because Ike had connected with it so many times it needed the repair, and the former to “put them back where they belong.” Gotta chuckle.
Best line in “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”: “Get back in there and do it again, and this time put some stink on it.” They were recording “Nutbush City Limits.” I’d say she did so.
I read the New York Times Styles section these days for a look into a world I don’t and (I hope) never will occupy — one where, when a person is invited to dinner, they feel free to present the hostess with a long list of objectionable foods; where people fret over the carbon footprint of their holiday gifts; where there are no more entrees in restaurants, because 17 bites is 14 too many for boredom not to set in.
Today, another nose-against-the-glass moment: People who don’t know when to leave the dog at home.
It was a dark and stormy night — actually four stormy nights — when Jayme Otto, 31, and her husband, Ryan Otto, 33, drove 1,200 miles from their home in Boulder, Colo., to her parents’ house in Cleveland for Christmas.
“We traveled all this way to bring our yellow Labrador, Cody Bear, home to spend time with his grandparents,” Ms. Otto said, “grandparents” being dog-person-speak for her parents.
Besides wanting Cody Bear “to participate in his favorite yearly activity of unwrapping gifts and destroying all the boxes,” as Ms. Otto put it, they wanted the dog to meet her brother’s fiancée.
But on Christmas morning, a commotion ensued: the fiancée was allergic to dogs and broke out in hives.
“The dog was banished to the guest bedroom and we were unable to share our Christmas morning with Cody Bear,” Ms. Otto said bitterly. “The family blowup between my brother and I over the dog resulted in my mother not speaking to me for two months and my brother for four.” This Christmas will mark the first time that the Ottos will not be returning home.
I’m trying to think of the people I know who remained virginal until marriage. (think, think, think.) OK, I know a few. Now I’m trying to think of the people who did the opposite — who pretty much fell into bed on date one, and got married at some later date. (think, think, think.) I know a lot of those. Now I’m thinking of the states of all those marriages. (think, think, think.) And I see pretty much identical success/failure rates in both camps. Which is hardly a scientific poll, I realize, but seems to underline what every adult with a lick of common sense knows about marital sex — that it’s a very important part of the relationship, but only one part. So why does the Weekly Standard, which would never stand for facile analyses of Middle Eastern affairs (to take them at their word, anyway), run nonsense like this?
Instant sex and romantic love can’t coexist any more than hurricanes and forest fires. One drives out the other.
It’s a standard cheap shot of lefties to say that right-wing social policy comes from its proponents not being able to get laid, but if only they didn’t make it so easy to say so.
Finally, the Christians said, “Merry Christmas” and the Jew replied, “Happy Hanukkah,” so of course a fistfight was the only reasonable response. Fortunately, a Muslim stepped in to break things up.
Well, it is the season of miracles.
Andrea said on December 13, 2007 at 9:50 am
For future reference if shopping for girls, Avon may be passe, but they have some good deals on the kinds of things you were looking for. My five-year-old would be happy if I just bought her Chapstick for Christmas and Avon has “branded” flavored chapstick and lip gloss (Disney Princesses, High School Musical, plus cute holiday-themed ones, etc.) for 69 to 99 cents. A gal here at work sells it, or else I probably never would have even thought about it. And re: KLS, my husband, who usually let’s most celebrity reality shows flow right by him, commented one day when we clicked past her show, “Can you imagine working for her?”
Mindy said on December 13, 2007 at 10:29 am
Our dog travels with us to my in-law’s over the holidays because he is welcome there. Their grandchildren enjoy him and he’s well behaved for the most part. But he isn’t the center of the world during the visit and goes to the basement during dinner. Then he has a walk and a nap with my father-in-law while my husband and I go to visit my dad, who thinks that having a dog in the house is the same as having a cow in the house.
We have a box full of all things Avon after Christmas since my mother-in-law is an Avon rep. Everything disagrees with my skin and my nose, but my husband uses the calendar lip balm. All the rest of the bath and beauty stuff goes to someone in a shelter and the jewelry goes to Goodwill. I gave up hope of seeing the end of the annual Avon avalanche years ago.
Dorothy said on December 13, 2007 at 10:47 am
I’m an Avon fan – I can’t live without the Care Deeply (calendar) lip balm. The bath stuff disagrees with me too, and some of the jewelry is nice, but I’ve returned a few things that looked cheap compared to the picture in the catalog. But I do own several of their watches and earrings and wear them often.
We’re taking our dog to our daughter’s in Norfolk for Christmas, and she has a lil’ Cocker spaniel. Our son is also bringing his new pup. Three dogs in a two bedroom apartment will probably be mayhem, but we’re dog lovers and we’ll tolerate it. Plus there’s a great dog park nearby and we’ll utilize it quite a bit so they can burn off energy.
Connie said on December 13, 2007 at 10:47 am
There are always a couple of visiting dogs at my mother-in-law’s house over the holidays, sometimes including mine. They are always welcome.
Harry and David pretty much took care of my Christmas shopping this year, I just have a little left to do for my husband and kid. I was looking for the Burt’s Bees lip balm she loves, and all I could find locally was a $20 box containing a tiny container of a dozen products.
As to mother-in-law, my husband has spent 3 of the last 4 weeks in Flint caring for his 87 yr old mother after back surgery. I’m so lonely, time to come home honey, this living alone stuff is for the birds.
LAMary said on December 13, 2007 at 10:49 am
One of my siblings went used to bring his two untrained Irish Setters and three very close in age children, who were then small, to every event. Until people stopped inviting the sibling. Nothing says Christmas like screaming, barking and destruction.
Danny said on December 13, 2007 at 10:52 am
My wife bumped into Ike a couple of summers ago at a local market that carries fresh produce and health foods (Henry’s Marketplace). The very ebullinet Ike greeted her heartily, told her who he was and gave her a promotional CD of pretty crappy music.
But I am not bragging or anything and any of you who have had brushes with greatness better keep it in perspective too cuz Mary will be along any minute with the real scoop on Ike.
Peter said on December 13, 2007 at 11:05 am
My favorite Avon memory was when I was a tyke, my Mom would spray on Avon’s Persian Wood for the night out on the town, and when our pet dachsund got a whiff of that he would salivate like crazy, hump the ottoman and howl for about an hour. Good times.
Mindy said on December 13, 2007 at 11:15 am
What a great memory, Peter! When I get my stocking full of Avon it’s going to be tough keeping a straight face.
Dave said on December 13, 2007 at 11:19 am
You already said it, Danny. It was a very Mary moment.
My wife is coming home TODAY after spending three months with her mother in Florida, who was having balance problems. I foresee no good end to this and I don’t have a good end for for a sentence like that. Don’t see a good ending coming, either.
Mindy, my mother and your father would agree about the cow, your line cracked me up.
Mindy said on December 13, 2007 at 11:20 am
Hey Dorothy, if my Avon haul gleans a jewelry item you’d like I’d be happy to send it to you. What amazes me about getting jewelry every year is the fact that I very seldom wear any. What I do wear is tiny gold earrings, not chain necklaces and bracelets. I’ll keep you posted. (Now watch, this will be the year the MIL gives up on me!)
Danny said on December 13, 2007 at 11:40 am
Peter, that is funny. Good thing the dog did not make the association between perfume, “Avon calling” and the doorbell ringing.
Sue said on December 13, 2007 at 11:44 am
I thought I was only bringing my dog to places where he was welcome (my sister’s and my in-laws) until my MIL made a nasty comment in front of me about the dog to my husband’s aunt one Christmas. I was floored. She had literally never voiced an objection before and seemed to love the dog (my father in law really did love the dog). It was one of those “awakening” moments early in my marriage and although I never commented on it or started a fuss, the dog never went there with us again, nor did any subsequent dogs. Not surprisingly, though, I didn’t get overly upset after that if I couldn’t find a dog sitter and was not able to go visit them.
nancy said on December 13, 2007 at 11:52 am
I take Spriggy places with me, too, and he hasn’t always been a gentleman. I think the general rule, though, is this: When a family member is so allergic that they break out in hives, the only possible reaction is to remove the animal, if only to a guest bedroom, and do so cheerfully. You certainly don’t whine to the New York Times about Cody Bear’s Christmas tragedy. I’d say that was the last family holiday for the Ottos.
Maybe Avon should rebrand Persian Wood, now that we know its magical mixture of dog pheromones.
Danny said on December 13, 2007 at 12:03 pm
Maybe Avon should rebrand Persian Wood, now that we know its magical mixture of dog pheromones.
I guess you are thinking, Dachsund “Wood” or maybe, Dog “Wood?”
nancy said on December 13, 2007 at 12:20 pm
“And they called it puppy love…with Dogwood, the new fragrance from Avon.”
del said on December 13, 2007 at 1:00 pm
Got a Christmas card in the mail today from an old neighbor; whenever she would come into our house our little lap dog Luigi would greet her by rolling over on his back at her feet and then squirt up at her. Never did it to anyone else! We never knew quite what to say but I’d usually gush something stupid like, “My, Luigi really LIKES you.” Sometimes Luigi would get amorous with her calf. Maybe she was wearing Avon.
LAMary said on December 13, 2007 at 1:12 pm
Luigi had some dominance issues with your neighbor. First he would go extremely passive and fearful, then try to be dominant by humping her leg. What kind of doggy vibe was she giving off?
Dorothy said on December 13, 2007 at 1:22 pm
Things I love about today’s comments:
“A very Mary moment”
Mindy’s generosity (thanks Mindy!!)
“And they called it puppy love…with Dogwood, the new fragrance from Avon.”
The mental image of Peter’s dachsund humping the ottoman, drooling and howling away.
LAMary said on December 13, 2007 at 2:15 pm
The closest I’ve come to meeting Ike was a former neighbor of mine. She lived near me right about when Tina started telling the world what a nasty piece of work Ike was. As neighbors go, she was not the sort you wanted irritate. She was a serious coke user and I got to know her one night when I heard gunshots from her house. She came outside to announce that everything was OK, just had tried to shoot a rat she saw on the refrigerator. Anyway, she was or had been sleeping with Ike and was very down on Tina badmouthing him. Ike was a good guy, made Tina what she was, she said.
She told me all this a few nights after the rat shooting. We were sitting in her kitchen. She was drinking warm beer because her refrigerator wasn’t working after the shooting incident, and she was high as high could be.
Danny said on December 13, 2007 at 2:26 pm
Wow. See what I mean? Ike, you lived less than 15 minutes from me and yet….I barely knew ye.
Mary NEVER disappoints.
LAMary said on December 13, 2007 at 2:30 pm
Live among the rat shooters and you collect good stories.
brian stouder said on December 13, 2007 at 2:42 pm
‘Course, Mary’s neighbor might have been speaking metaphorically, about the rat rooting around at her refrigerator.
Speaking of sudden gunfire, this article caused a bit of a stir amongst my kin, recently. The woman in the story was married to one of my brothers, 15 years ago! (but she apparently liked the surname!)
Jeff said on December 13, 2007 at 2:57 pm
If you want a conversion experience on fruitcake, if not Catholicism, click:
This is the Abbey of Gethsemani where Thomas Merton lived as a monk (www.monks.org easily enough), and their bourbon fudge is, well, heavenly. Just down the road from the Maker’s Mark distillery, so they come by the flavor honestly. Cheese is first rate, but the fruitcake will make you take back every fruitcake joke you’ve ever told.
Having said that, i like fudge better. The prices look steep, but already include shipping; lots o’ family gifting from their site which i know won’t be re-gifted (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
John C said on December 13, 2007 at 3:00 pm
I agree, Brian, about the speaking metaphorically thing. I’ve often felt betrayed by things in my fridge.
Great story, Mary. I’m, pretty sure none of my neighbors have ever slept with Ike Turner. I’ll ask around at the Christmas party, though.
LAMary said on December 13, 2007 at 3:07 pm
I don’t think there even was a rat. Not that rats didn’t hang out in that neighborhood, but she easily, like reeeeealy easily, could have been seeing imaginary rats. She used a friggin huge handgun trying to kill it.
Gene said on December 13, 2007 at 4:01 pm
(Davis was also lucky none of them became stars like Tina, or the story might be different.)
Well, one of Miles’ ex-wives is an Emmy winner and was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. That usually qualifies as a star.
nancy said on December 13, 2007 at 4:07 pm
Except no drag queen ever dresses up as Cicely Tyson.
brian stouder said on December 13, 2007 at 4:28 pm
Well, y’ know, Jeff – Pam would say I’ve been a converted fruit cake for years! – but the question is, if people heed your call, would this make you a fruitcake missionary?
Jeff said on December 13, 2007 at 10:30 pm
I can only hope!
John said on December 14, 2007 at 8:13 am
What was the line about Ike not being a wife-beater? Some about how he technically wasn’t married to Tina at the time.
4dbirds said on December 14, 2007 at 9:48 am
There was a headline that read “Ike Beats Tina to Death”.
Ricardo said on December 15, 2007 at 9:51 pm
Without Ike Turner, there might not have been Sun Records. Ike scouted talent that Sam Phillips recorded including Howlin’ Wolf before he went off to Chess.
And without Sun Records, there probably would have been no Elvis.
Ike switched from piano to guitar because he had a hard time finding and keeping guitarists. Later, he went back to piano and could boogie-woogie with the best of them.
Ike also survived the Jim Crow south as well as anyone could.