But I just can't imagine a wine snob buying a $500.00 bottle of wine there---because what on earth would they say when someone complimented them on it? "Oh, my, this is lovely wine, dah-ling," someone would say at their cocktail party, sipping out of a fancy Lenox goblet. "It has a good bouquet. Where did you get it?" And the hosts would have to lie like big dogs. Because they sure as hell wouldn't want to reply with the truth, saying "Oh, it's a nice '06 vintage we picked up for a song at Walmart-- and that bouquet you smell is probably a leftover wafting from the Scented Candle Section, which is right next to the Wine Section." (You see my point?) Anyway, they had a really huge Christmas tree in there under the American and Texan flags.
You know, Walmart aside, I was overwhelmed with the sheer size and modernity of ....well, everything in Dallas. I felt like a complete bumpkin country mouse there. And there's eighty zillion restaurants. You could eat at a different restaurant every day for ten years and never repeat the same place. My sister and I had lunch at a lovely place called La Madeleine's which contains a bistro-style restaurant, a French bakery, and a selection of gourmet coffees. I will go on record here to say that La Madeleine's makes the most delicious fruit tarts I've ever eaten in my entire life--- but it bugged me that you couldn't buy any of those wonderful little French pastries called madeleines in there. Dang it, you'd think they'd sell madeleines in there since they're called La Madeleine's, right? (When I mentioned this culinary failing to my well-mannered sister, she hissed in a stern whisper: "Don't you DARE ask them why they don't sell any damn madeleines. I've got a madeleine pan at the house and if you've absolutely GOT to have a damn madeleine I can make you some damn madeleines.")
I think she was a little touchy because one of my favorite things to do to her is to play one of my favorite games called "Embarass My Sister to Death In Public". (It's very similar to my other game, "Embarass My Mother To Death In Public".)
I will confess here that I simply cannot resist playing this game because my mother and sister are so very prim and proper. I know, I know---I'm utterly EVIL for doing such a bad thing, but I just can't help it! Because they're so prim and proper that they're simply TOO TEMPTING to resist. Their perfect manners and delicate countenances practically BEG for embarassment and mortification. I mean, they are two very beautiful ladies who never have a hair out of place, never do anything unladylike, and are utterly charming at all times....and whenever we're in public I find myself looking around for whoopee cushions or Groucho Marx spectacles---because it's just too delicious to see them turn three shades of pale and try to slink away un-noticed and pretend not to be related to me. I always follow and say things like: "She's trying to pretend she's not related to me--but she's my sister, everybody!"
(It's like a sickness with me.....I've been doing it for years.)
But .... surprise, surprise... when we were at Walmart and I started my predictable antics, my newly-confident sister slayed me with one simple statement. "Go ahead and try your shenanigans. It won't bother me in the least---because I'm immune to you."
But I wasn't worried. What? Immune to me? Bah! And so I tried everything on her---all my best ammunition, all my best routines. I tried the Country Bumpkin Routine where I talk in a Gomer Pyle voice and holler out things out like "Whar in the tarnation are them thar douche thangs?" but it didn't even phase her. She simply pointed her finger and replied evenly: "Over there in the Personal Hygiene Section."
So I tried the Rapper Video Routine where I strut up and down the aisles dancing and posturing like a rapper, saying things like "Yo! Yo! Yo! Hey homey-sistah--where's the Bling Section?" I glanced at her to see if she was mortified but she calmly turned to the shopper next to her and said: "The poor dear--we brought her out to shop for feminine hygiene items today, but she's got to be back at the Insane Asylum by 5:00 pm."
Her unexpected composure caused me to panic--and so I got desperate and started doing free-form clowning for all I was worth, all up and down the next few aisles, thinking that I'd fix her little red wagon for SURE---but it went wrong, so very, very wrong.....because I degenerated to such new lows that I actually embarassed MYSELF by resorting to scrubbing my armpits with a long-handled shower brush in the Bath & Body Section.
And it was then that I realized the terrible truth.....I simply didn't want to believe the horrible fact....(you don't think?!?).....and, reluctantly, I was forced to suddenly come to my senses, stopping dead in my tracks, completely horrified in the blinding flash of a moment of clarity...a moment which revealed the ugly truth to me.... that my sister has finally....and at long last.... truly become IMMUNE to me!
AAARGHHH and DAMMIT!
(I was going to try scrubbing my er...personal area, but couldn't bring myself---I simply didn't have the guts---and I knew, sadly, that it was the End of an Era....)
(Oh, the humility!.... But, sigh, I guess we all have to grow up some time...)
(I just hope she doesn't blab about this to my mother--because if my mother ever becomes immune to me then I'll truly be lost....)
Anyhoo, after our visit to La Madeleine's and the Biggest Walmart in the Entire World, my sister took me to an even MORE wonderful place.....which is The Woolie Ewe yarn store, YEAH!
When I saw that place, I thought Yarn Heaven, thy name is Woolie Ewe. Because I definitely thought I'd died and gone to Yarn Heaven, I really did. They had EVERYTHING in the world a knitter could want. Every shelf in there was draped, covered, and surrounded by all the most wonderful yarns, knitting books, yarns, needles, yarns, gadgets, yarns....and did I say, YARNS? All I could do was drool. Because it has literally been years since I was able to go to a real knitting store and pet the yarns.
I would have liked to go to a bunch of other knitting stores but we simply didn't have the time, and The Woolie Ewe is fairly near to my sister's neighborhood. I bought myself a sampler of some very luscious yarns, including some Schaefer "Miss Priss" in a couple of colors, some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, and some Plymouth metallic-flecked Mira Mira. I also grabbed some Addi Turbo's while I was there. There was a nice social group in there, sitting around a table knitting and talking--but alas, I was far too shy to say anything. (Yes, it's true---I'm extremely shy in public when acting respectable and not hollering in a Gomer Pyle voice about douches to my sister in Walmart--go figure.)
(And...well, also, I... er.....certainly didn't want to get myself thrown out of The Woolie Ewe in utter disgrace for something as ridiculous as playing the "Embarass My Sister To Death In Public" game in there, that's for dang sure. Believe me when I say that I was on my BEST BEHAVIOR in there...)
There is all kinds of wondrous shopping in my sister's lovely neighborhood. She lives in a story-book house in Carrollton where she does all her own landscaping and flower gardening. She's amazing, like my mother. (I don't know why they put up with me.)
And see that tree? Two years ago my teenaged niece hid an Easter Egg up in that tree during our family's Annual Adult Easter Egg Hunt. Yes, she actually hid an Easter Egg up there. Does she think I'm agile or something? I spotted the egg and claimed it for myself---but I made her climb up there and get it for my Easter Basket. Because although I can usually rise to any occasion, and have been known to hop many a ranch fence during my visits to patients, I am not quite up to tree-climbing with an Easter Basket on my arm during an Easter Egg Hunt....
Anyway, my sister and I had the greatest time ever during my trip to Dallas. My niece came home from Texas Women's University for the weekend and we watched movies and hung out. My sister didn't make me any madeleines but she did make me some homemade currant scones, which we had with our tea that Sunday morning as she showed me some of her artwork. She's an oil painter, like my mother, and also does needlepoint. Here's her staircase wall where she has some of hers (and my mother's) oil paintings and needlepoint, hanging near the picture of my grandfather wearing his cowboy hat:
As much as I love Dallas, it has really grown in size and hustle-bustle since I was there last. It's more cosmopolitan than ever before, and waaaay more sophisticated. Truly a great place for this little country girl to go shop and see the sights. There's really only one bad thing about Dallas and that is, of course....... THE TRAFFIC.
My GOD, but Dallas traffic is truly horrible. It is lunacy in motion. Because those people are insane. They WILL NOT LET YOU CHANGE LANES there. Really! They won't let you. If the other cars on the road even SUSPECT that you are going to change lanes, they will all speed up and box you in, preventing you from changing lanes. And if this happens to you while on Interstate 635 (which is configured in a big circle around Dallas) you could find yourself circling Dallas for all eternity. SERIOUSLY! You could end up becoming the dang Flying Dutchman of Interstate 635, and I am not kidding here.
Thus, you have to make a decision about where you're going to turn at least 5 miles away from where you actually want to turn--just so you can have time to do the required lane-changing. But I got stubborn. And mad. Those crazy Dallas drivers thought that they would frighten me, eh? Hell NO! They underestimated this little Road Nurse, OH, YES-SIR-EE-BOB!
Because, as they say here in Podunk, it ain't my first rodeo, ya get me? I practically LIVE on The Road!
So whenever I wanted to change lanes, I pulled out some of my good ole Dukes of Hazard techniques. I flipped on my turn signal, grimaced at the drivers near me, yelled something hideously wicked in my loudest hick voice, and then GUNNED THE ACCELERATOR, by God. And I'd subsequently barrel my way across the 6-lane highway like a bat out of hell. I changed lanes, dammit!
I don't know whether it was my redneck-style, bold, in-your-face driving that showed the Dallas drivers that I meant business or else my yelling and cursing in a totally hick, Daisy-May accent. But whatever it was, it worked. So just in case it actually WAS the stuff I was yelling-- and you would like to use such epithets for yourself the next time you're on Interstate 635 in Dallas-- here's some examples of Tried and True Hick Things to Yell on the Road at Insane Dallas Drivers (they worked for me and so I'm sure they'll work for you) (And be sure to yell them in your best hick accent--see my "Podunk Travel Guide" with the section on Hick Dialect and Terminology):
Example One: "YEE-HAH ya lilly-livered road hogs! Stick THAT up yer BMW!"
Example Two: "YEE-HAH--and tell THAT to the State Trooper, baby! CUZ HE'S WEARIN' A COWBOY HAT AND WON'T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT A PISSANT TOYOTA!"
Example Three: "HOLD YER HORSES, greenhorns--cuz this Jeep's gonna CLOCK THE BARRELS!! So get the hell out of my way or be STOMPED TO DEATH!"
Example Four: "HOT DIGGITY DAWG, ya yeller-belly, egg-suckin' yard dog--it's TEN POINTS if I hit a PORSCHE!"
In defense of my violent nature here, you have to remember that I'm sooooo not used to traffic the likes of Dallas's. (Yes, I know that I didn't need the extra 's' on the end of 'Dallas' but that's the way I pronounce it and so I just can't resist spelling it that way.)
(I also pronounce the word "Crème Brûlée" incorrectly, pronouncing it instead using the hick dialect inflection of "creme BREW-lee" , a hideous sound which causes my sister to cringe in excrutiating pain every time she hears it.)
Anyhoo, I mean I'm used to the kinder, gentler traffic in Podunk where things go so slowly that I can gossip on the cell phone with Belinda, write Post-Its, ogle the paramedics hanging out in front of the Paramedics Barracks, eat hamburgers, wheedle doctors on the cell phone, argue with patients on the cell phone, and text-message...all while driving.
But all I could do in Dallas was grasp the steering wheel with both hands in a death-grip while staring in unabashed fear at the crowded highway in front of me--- while praying out loud to all that is holy that I'd make it off I-635 in one piece and alive. In fact, to prove my point, let me use illustrations. Here's a picture of the average Dallas death-trap road:And here is a picture of the worst road-hazard that good ole Podunk traffic has to offer: See what I mean? Anyway, Dallas hazards aside, I made it back in time to make another Road Trip in the opposite direction to my mother's house for a wonderful Thanksgiving there. We had a houseful including myself, my sister and niece again, my nephew, and some family friends. It always cracks me up to watch my sister and mother in action in the kitchen because they are both "set in their ways" in regard to kitchen stuff. When I walked into the kitchen I could instantly see that there were "too many cooks" and so I wisely sat off to the side, knitting with my new yarn from the Woolie Ewe. The free-floating anxiety level in there was quite high and I think it was due to some sort of squabble over The Turkey. It seems that one of them wanted to use a Butterball Turkey but the other one wanted to use an "offbrand Turkey". I don't know who eventually won the squabble--- and I have no earthly idea which kind of turkey we actually ended up eating---but the dinner was fabulous and I brought home a week's worth of delicious leftovers. What cracked me up was that, at various times, I noticed my sister giving me "the look" behind my mother's back--which I, of course, have to "reply to" with a "look" of my own. And it drives my poor mother to distraction because she never really catches us in the act of "looking", but she definitely "suspects" that something's going on. So every fifteen minutes or so, just to prove that we're not fooling her, my mother will defiantly say something to the effect of "I know y'all are talkin' about me behind my back but I don't care!" But what my poor mother doesn't realize is that it just wouldn't be very much fun to have a family get-together if my sister and I couldn't give each other "the look" behind her back. I mean, what is being part of a pair of naughty sisters if you can't give each other "the look" behind your own mother's back? And my sister and I have raised the level of our facial expressions to a veritable art form--and I defy any professional mime to do it better. Our subtle, yet meaningful, looks can signify an entire host of maternal issue complaints--anything from "She's doing it again!" to "My God, she put the dog on a dang diet because the vet said that his body fat ratio was too high!" But my mother actually got off lightly at Thanksgiving---because at least my sister and I didn't play our truly favorite game. Which is where it all began, in childhood, when my sister and I were around 7 and 8 years old--- and we developed a serious vice playing that age-old game called "See-Food". Although I know that lots of children play "See-Food", I am proud to say that my sister and I raised the integrity of this game to Olympic Sport levels--and we were definitely Gold Medalists. The object of the game was twofold--that of causing your sister to observe your open mouth with chewed-up food in it, and that of NOT getting caught by one's parents. We two idgits shamelessly played this stupid game until we were well out of childhood. But then, alas, it all came to an ugly end. I had gone home during a college vacation one year and my sister and I happened to be playing the game during our evening meal---and, unbelievably, our deceptive skills slipped and my mother actually CAUGHT US in the act. We thought for a minute that both of us were doomed, but all my mother did was stare dumbfoundedly for a minute or two, the realization dawning upon her shocked face slowly ---and then she simply put down her napkin, turned to my father, and stated "So THAT'S what they've been doing all these years!" (I don't know whether the word "dumbfoundedly" exists or not, but somehow it just fits, you know?) I was telling my boss Lu-Lu about the whole "See-Food" thing thing and she confessed to an equally ingenious game that she and HER sister use to play behind their mother's back, the one called the "We're Not Really Sayin' Ugly Words" game (her telling of which caused me to practically PEE MY PANTS laughing.) Lu-Lu, like many of us here in Podunk, grew up in a strict Baptist home where "cussing" was totally forbidden. So she and her mischevious sister would titillate themselves (behind their mother's back, of course) by reciting, back and forth to each other, parts of "ugly-word" syllables--- and then laugh like hyenas as they sassily rationalized to themselves that they "hadn't actually said ugly words". The game goes like this: Lu-Lu says: "Duh..." Then Lu-Lu's sister says: "..amn" Lu-Lu says: "Sh..." Then Lu-Lu's sister says: "..it" Lu-Lu says: "Pee..." Then Lu-Lu's sister says: "..nis" Lu-Lu says: "Fuh...." (You get the picture?) If their mother had caught them doing this, they'd have both gotten whuppin's. But they never got caught, Lu-Lu said with satisfaction. (But then she ruefully added that she had gotten her just desserts because the game had "completely ruined cussing" for her forever --- because to this day she still can't enunciate a cuss word in its entirety at one time, and instead is only able to blurt out something like "Duh....AMN!" or "Shuh....IT" instead. "I'm cuss-word-challenged!" she wailed sadly. (And I'm dang glad that she cleared that up for us because we all thought she had a speech impediment or something.) (I guess you'd have to be two sisters who grew up in a strict Baptist home to see where games like "See-Food" and "We're Not Really Sayin' Ugly Words" would be considered funny as hell...) Where was I? Oh yes, Thanksgiving. How in the Sam Hill did I get onto the topic of all these stupid childhood games? Ahh well....perhaps it's simply my way of expressing (mourning?) the passing of my lost youth?... ....now that my dadgum sister is immune to me, sigh. Anyway, my trip to Dallas and Thanksgiving at my mother's was great. And I get to look forward to doing it all over again at Christmas. And I will eat like a Queen for a week on those Thanksgiving leftovers. And, so, I returned to my beloved Podunk, my Jeep's trunk overflowing with a bounty of turkey leftovers, yarns from The Woolie Ewe, a red tea-kettle and colander from The Biggest Walmart in The Entire World... and now I can settle in for the business of Getting Ready For Christmas. * I knew I was truly home today when I went out onto my balcony... and I could hear the faint sounds of the cattle auctioneer in the distance---and I suddenly remembered that there's a Cattle Auction today up by the Fire House. Home Sweet Home......