Monday, October 27, 2003

If I had a million dollars...
To read my thoughts on life as a rich girl, click here.
Change of plans...
In case you're wondering why I haven't posted in the past week, there is a reasonable explaination. Due to the fact that my columns run in The Jupiter Courier, where I am employed, they are owned by the E.W. Scripps company, and it would be a copyright violation for me to run them on my own site.

Before you break down crying, and feel there is no longer a reason to live, I do have good news! I can post links to the Courier Web site that will take you directly to the column. The only pitfall is, you will not get to read them before the rest of the general public, as you did before.

I will be able to post other things on this site that are not published in the paper. I know I have been slack about that, but I've been a little busy... I will try to be better, though.

Anyway, I hope those of you who are loyal readers will continue to read my columns. It's only one extra mouse click away. C'mon, you can do it! Thanks for all your comments and support! They are always appreciated.

Those with criticism, bugger off!! Just kidding... Enjoy!

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Fins to the left...
On my first low-key weekend in longer than I can remember, I decided to do something very risqué and dangerous- test drive cars at a dealership.

And if that was not daring enough, it should be noted that I was by myself and am a first-time car shopper.

Crazy, you say? Foolish, am I?

Perhaps. But I was completely locked into the mindset of not purchasing a car that day, so I figured that I was safe.

Furthermore, I do not have the appropriate funding to just jaunt out and by a new car on a whim at the present time, thus increasing the potency of my safety net.

So, I figured, it’s the perfect crime. I’d get to peruse the cars, test them out and then leave, because there is no way I could conceivably be talked into buying one.

I must say, I severely underestimated the shrewdness of pressure salesmen.

The salespeople were like sharks mulling outside the door of the dealership. In fact, they couldn’t have been more obvious if they had fins taped to their backs.

I did not even have the chance to lock my car door before I was offered something to drink, a business card and a pen with which to sign the contracts.

I was really hoping to just lollygag around. I wanted to look over the cars, make some notes on the reporter’s notepad that I carry with me wherever I go and then let a salesperson know when I was ready to test one out.

Shame on me for desiring some space and independence. I’m guessing that notion was rookie mistake number one, because the sharks, bull sharks I’d presume, in their clean polo shirts and pressed khaki slacks, began to twitch with excitement over my faux pas like I’d just dripped a spot of blood into their holding tank.

With little delay, I was steered towards my “dream car,” which the salesman and I would be driving and discussing. As I climbed into the passenger’s seat, I looked longingly at the stylish, less expensive car I’d wanted to try a little further down the lot.

Guess we weren’t meant to be a match made in Heaven, old boy.

When we returned to the dealership, I wondered if it was just my imagination, or had all of the female salespeople vanished from the premises? Not a single woman was in sight, and in the interest of time, I will resist the urge to turn this story into a “Women’s Lib” issue, and assume that the men just wanted the female prey all to themselves.

As I sat at the salesman’s desk awaiting a price quote I didn’t even know that I had asked for, I was approached by every man in the store. Each claimed to be a manager of some sort, and after a mere ten minutes, I had enough business cards to fill a rolodex.

I glanced wearily at the salesman that had taken me on the test drive. He apologized profusely, and explained that no matter how much he knew that I did not want to buy a car that day, his managers did not believe such a person existed in the world.

So for forty minutes, I sat like a freak exhibit at Ripley’s Believe it or Not. One that everyone had to attempt to discredit before shaking their heads and surrendering to the acknowledgment of my disease.

I’d had quite enough, and asked the friendly salesman (an oxymoron, I know) to pass me a post-it note and a pen. In large letters I wrote, “I do not want to buy a car today!” and stuck it to my forehead.

Well, that maneuver was enough to make them bring out the big guns. Up strode a man with a smile like Jack Nicholson, a walk like Elvis and the presence of Clint Eastwood.

A hush fell over the crop of salesmen assembled around me. The saloon-keeper ducked below the bar. The general manager had entered the scene.

I could feel my knees weakening as he offered me incentive after incentive on a new car. He was a smooth talker, and he was whittling away at my ability to think rationally. I pulled out my last weapon; my one and only line of defense.

“I don’t have any money,” I muttered feebly.

Then all at once, I was snapped back to reality when he uttered one remarkable phrase, much to his own detriment.

“Well, what if you didn’t need money to buy a car today?” he asked slyly.

Well, that did it. I hobbled out the door with a salesman attached to each of my legs. A defeated manager scampered to remove the “for sale” sign from my poor old car before I could get to it.

What was it about his inquiry that made me see the light? Well, I reasoned as I started up my clunky old Honda, if I didn’t need money to buy a car, I’d be at the Lamborghini dealership right now.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Hail, alma matter...
Some say that you can’t go home again.

After attending my college alma matter’s homecoming celebration this past weekend I learned that this sentiment does not always ring true.

I spent a long weekend at Appalachian State University, and I quickly found that while many things and people were different than I remember, some things never change.

During the week, I stayed with close friends who had all migrated to another city after graduation. I visited new apartments and homes, met new husbands and wives, and chatted about new jobs and higher education.

At first it took a bit of adjusting to see my college folk as the same crop of people with whom I shared triumph and tragedy in our first dorm rooms or during our first classes. Everyone seemed so much older and more mature and settled than I recalled.

It was difficult to witness the same people who could pull all-nighters in our dorm lobby only to scramble to an early morning class, yawning at 9:30 p.m. and complaining about “an early day at the office tomorrow.”

I must admit, at times I got a little downhearted and began reminiscing about the “good ol’ days.” But as quickly as it came, my sadness dissipated into a whirlwind weekend of memories and laughter.

By the time we reached the school, homecoming had indeed become just that. As the mobs of students created unique spectacles of themselves in the middle of Boone’s main street, my friends and I knew it: We were home again.

At game time, we stood on top of the bleachers until our legs felt like jelly and yelled for our team until our voices were long lost. Familiar faces filled the crowd, and everywhere I turned, someone from my past was shouting my name.

My friends and I got caught up in the memory of student life, and for one flickering moment we left our adulthood behind and slipped into a comfortable time warp. We remembered the way things were, and were grateful that those days were not lost forever.

Sometimes it’s easy to lose touch with a good friend. Sometimes when the circumstances under which you became friends disappear, it’s hard to view a friendship in the same light as you once did. Sometimes too much time can create a rift that only a trip to the past can repair.

I was fortunate to have that trip this week, and I know it. Not everyone gets to make the journey home, but at the week’s closure, I was quite glad I did.

Looking back now, I am able to reflect upon my time at “home” and savor several revelations.

Yes, sometimes people change, but that is not always a bad thing. It is possible to change with someone, and changing together can only make a friendship stronger.

Yes, sometimes situations change, but if your relationship is strong enough, it will withstand the tests of time and place.

And yes, we may not have as much time for each other as we would like, but as time becomes more scare, the time you do have to share with others becomes that much more valuable and sacred.

As my short time with old friends drew to a close, I noticed that I started to appreciate their adult selves just as much as I did their college selves. We’re all in the same boat — still growing and trying to find the things in life that will make us happy.

The most important thing to remember, no matter where you go or what you need to do to make it to the next level in your life, your friends will always be there to give you a boost.

My friends were there in the planning stages of my life. Not only do they know my past victories and struggles in life. They also know my dreams and aspirations, and they will be there to remind me of them when I can’t remember myself.