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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on August 18th, 2015, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 16, Issue 24 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 16, Issue 24

Before #ThrowBackThursday there was 'reminiscing'

Ariel declares: We're not old, we're youth challenged

By ARIEL WATERMAN

It’s been a lovely August here at Waterman Manor. The drought has killed all the weeds in the garden and, although some of the garden hasn’t fared too well, my white roses still look splendid! I have been resolute in watching our water use, rationing every drop in the garden.

I also cut my husband, The Brit, and his counterpart, our Grandson The Briteen, down to shorter showers. They are each done and out in 15 minutes or I barge in with a motivating glass of ice water. It gives a whole new meaning to singing in the shower.


Mom is here visiting and she celebrated a milestone birthday. I cannot tell you which one—she is too classy to reveal her age. When asked, she flashes a grin and says, “39!” I flash a grin and tell people she is also dyslexic. The Briteen, who calls her G.G. (Great-Grandma), asked if she meant the year 39, and I quipped “And is that B.C. or A.D.?” We were both summarily, but only briefly, cut from the will.

Mom has always been pretty good with a fast comeback. In fact, she is the master. I learned this fairly young. During her visit we have been reminiscing about days gone by, and we recalled the days when she worked as a waitress in the airport coffee shop in Spokane, Wash.

Each Wednesday, Mom worked late and her boss, Mrs. Walsh, would pick me up from school in her pink and gray Ford Falcon. This dear lady would always stop at the bus stop to pick up Air Force men heading back to the base. In the winter they would be standing there in huge, fur-lined parkas, stamping their feet in the frigid weather. She would load up that little car and plop me down on one of their laps.

At the coffee shop I would take my seat of honor in a corner booth, and Mrs. Walsh would bring me a small bowl of maraschino cherries and a quarter. I’d do my first-grade homework, often aided in my arithmetic by various and sundry servicemen who often came there to dine. There were table-side jukeboxes at each booth and $.25 would get you three songs played on the big Wurlitzer by the entrance.

One afternoon two priests from my school came in, saw me, and sat with me. I happily pointed out my mother to them who was waiting on a nearby table full of G.I.s, one of whom had just thrown a silver dollar at her and demanded, “Get me some change for the jukebox.”

Mom has never suffered fools, especially fools with bad manners. I had just proudly uttered the words, “That’s my Mom!” to the good fathers when “My Mom” could be heard throughout the joint replying to Private Whataputz. “You weren’t raised up! You were jerked up and if that hook in your butt isn’t killing you, you’ll get up and get your own change!”

Ah, those were the days! Mom and I have been reminiscing over many things from our past—things that were commonplace and no longer exist. Things like milk delivered to the house early mornings in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers. I loved those glass bottles—they made the milk taste better. Or maybe it tasted better because it wasn’t “improved upon” after leaving the cow.

We remembered how fast food used to be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a handful of potato chips. This was paired with a glass of grape Kool-Aid, all the better to complement the grape jelly on the sandwich! Fine dining at its best!

We laughed about smartphones and how great they are for our manicures. We grew up with telephones that had large rotary dials. These things were hard on our nails so we always kept an unsharpened pencil by the phone to use as a dialing tool.

Speaking of manicures and phones, there were no cell phones, but there was hands-free driving. This occurred if the rear signal lights on your car stopped working. You stuck your entire arm outside the window and bent it down to indicate a stop, kept it straight to signal a left turn, and bent it upright at the elbow to let drivers know you were turning right.

Mom had her own auxiliary set of signals. A forward wave from the wrist meant “Go around me, I’m lost.” A circular movement with a pointed index finger conveyed, “Get ready because I’m going to make a U-turn.” A downward patting gesture meant, “Settle down and stop honking! I’m going as fast as this old beater will allow!”

Finally, a point upward, followed by a right-pointing motion toward the curb, a backward pushing gesture, and a wagging finger meant, “Hold on just a minute! I want that parking spot and need to back up because I saw it first!” This could be followed by a shaking clenched fist indicating that she meant business; but never the middle finger because my Mom is a lady with class.

We also recalled cigarette advertisements on television. Mom used to smoke long ago but gave it up. But she was still good for a pack of candy cigarettes. I was a Lucky Strike gal, myself!

When we were kids, we used to love to stand on the school playground in the wintertime, huddle mysteriously in small clusters, our candy “cigs” dangling from sugared lips. Suddenly, furtively, we’d turn and catch the eye of one or more of the nuns, take a long “puff” and blow. The cold air would look like cigarette smoke and we’d watch as Sister Mary Caligula and Sister Mafioso Marie would have simultaneous cardio infarcts.

Speaking of nuns, I now think how cool it is to have spell-check software as I type this story. My first spell-checker was Mom, and for a few of my childhood school years it was Sister Maria Peccadillo. Now I have the computer, as well as an awesome backup—my wonderful editor. Now she’s a true Lucky Strike.

Ariel Waterman’s life is just a bowl of maraschino cherries. Send her some along with candy cigarettes (Lucky Strikes, please!) via her editor Shelly Cone at scone@santamariasun.com.




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