Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lest We Forget

Wherever you are celebrating Thanksgiving this week, you will probably take a moment to pause over your overflowing plate of turkey and trimmings and ponder some things that make you especially grateful. And when that subject comes up, we can pretty much all agree that we're thankful for the warm embrace of kith and kin, for hearth, health, and home, for pumpkin spice lattes, jumping into piles of fall leaves, and for all the joys of the season.

Those are fantastic, but they are the obvious ones--the tip of the iceberg (or cornucopia, if you prefer). There are some lesser-listed joys that are too often overlooked during the counting of our blessings. Let's dig a little deeper, lest we forget some of the other pretty special gifts we've been given. Allow me to present you with a few things for which you may have forgotten to be thankful (or at least tell you why I love them so).

To begin, let's all bow our heads and give a moment of gratification for any and all awkward silences at family gatherings. These are particularly thanks-inducing because they beat the cornbread stuffing out of all the other chatter that could otherwise be going on. I much prefer the sound of silverware grating on plates than the status of Aunt Gladys's gallstones or Uncle Bob's bunions. Silence really is golden, and for that, we are most thankful.

I'd like to take another pause to express my gratitude for all those ever-delicious, very popular right now gourmet cupcakes. Thank you for having twice the frosting of ordinary cake, yet somehow seeming smaller and thus making me feel half as guilty. And in flavors like red velvet, Kentucky bourbon pie, s'mores, and chocolate salted caramel, you always keep me guessing. Don't mind if I do.

After that round of applause for cupcakes, I would be remiss not to mention my deep appreciation for Spanx. Since 2000, those miracle underpinnings have been holding it all in and keeping it looking smooth and slim. I battle to get you on, and cannot wait to peel you off, but in between, the things we have accomplished together! Thank God for you, wonder workers! And let's not forget about Spanx for men (or Manx as I like to call them). Boys, you can turn that beer gut into buff stuff instantly by slipping on a Spanx undershirt. Yes, they're supposed to fit that tight. No, you shouldn't be able to take a deep breath. Welcome to the world in which we women have always lived.

I could never list the things that fill my heart with gladness without including the shopping carts at Walmart with four working wheels, capable of all moving in the same direction. These are few and far between, almost mythical in existence, but when I manage to score one that will work with me rather than having to drag the entire cart around the store like a mule with a plow, I feel grateful. I feel even more grateful when I see the EXIT sign and I leave the store, but you already knew that.

What about all those trendy places photographers are taking pictures now? That is a fancy shot--how did your couch get out in the middle of that field? Is it safe to be posing inside that huge drain pipe? It makes me thankful that I grew up in an era where family portraits happened on rolls of backdrop paper with studio props like footstools and fake rocks and not on the railroad tracks, beside an abandoned, graffiti-covered warehouse, sitting on a steamer trunk.

I am also much obliged to Netflix. I mean, no, Netflix doesn't have any current movies that are really worth watching. But for $8.57 a month, it does give you the ability to binge-watch Family Ties, Jem and the Holograms, and Melrose Place (classic 1992 version, of course). It's like a time machine that can transport you back to simpler times--times when television was more about Alex P. Keaton and less about John Q. Reality Star. Ah, those were the days.

Last, but certainly not least, I wait with rapt anticipation for Duck Dynasty's Christmas special, Duck the Halls. Thank heavens we will be able to celebrate Christmas with a brood of bearded men in camouflage (although if you're from my hometown in northeast Georgia, this might have already been a given for you). The Duck Dynasty Christmas special airs 12.11.13 and I, for one, am full of thanks.

No matter what gives you bliss, we can agree we all have a bounty of blessings to appreciate. Whether it's the fact that leggings are in style and thus make wearing an elastic waistband a real fashion moment, or that feeling you get from your first swig of caffeine in the morning, or that Days of Our Lives comes on five days a week for your (guilty) viewing pleasure, take a moment and be thankful. Then, roll up your sleeves, have the Rolaids at the ready, and get to it.

Happy Thanksgiving, pilgrim!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Clear and Present Danger

This week, Clint and I will be forced to deal with one of the biggest obstacles a marriage can face. I'm not speaking of disagreements over money, inlaws, or changing the toilet paper roll...I'm talking about the clash of college football rivalry. Alma mater vs. alma mater. Things get dicey. Or, as I said to Clint earlier in the week, "Your team had better not beat mine. I will make things terrible for you around here." Because I can be a delight like that.

Back in October of 2000, when we were just a bright-eyed, lovesick, newly engaged couple, Clint and his Yellow Jacket friends came to Clemson for the Tigers to take on Tech. I arranged a very diplomatic tailgate, divided straight down the middle. Half Clemson Tigers (yay! gorgeous!) and half Georgia Tech (boo! hiss!). The tablecloth, napkins and cups, even the centerpiece were all evenly split so that both teams were equally represented. Kumbaya, everyone was welcome. (It's easy to be a good sport when you anticipate a solid victory).

However, after all my very best hostess efforts, Georgia Tech scored in the last seconds of the game to upset Clemson. Dream season--once again--over. My Clemson friends and I left the stadium and headed back to the tailgate spot with heavy hearts, our heads hung in bitter disappointment. Meanwhile, Clint and company whooped and cheered and danced and celebrated. These fans, who stood shoulder to shoulder at my most gracious of tailgates and broke bread with us, came into our stadium and unapologetically dashed our hopes of championship greatness. And so, I did what any reasonable fan would do; I locked myself in the car and refused to come out until the revelry and the crowd had died down to a dull roar. That was my first indoctrination to marrying the opposing team.

Possibly the worst thing about this rivalry is the fact that, no matter what the rankings or predictions or circumstances, games between my Tigers and his Jackets are notoriously a toss-up. Twelve of the last 18 games have been decided by five points or less, which makes for a tense time at the Stancil house until the clock finally runs out--and many times, even more tense after that fact.

We have learned the hard way that we do not attend these games in person (see above incident, marked 2000 Defeat Disaster). They are watched from the hushed confines of our den, where we are each dressed in our team's colors and seated on opposite ends of the couch. A house divided. Even the dog is afraid to take sides in this face-off, although I will remark how his paws look uncannily like the Clemson tiger paw logo, and Clint will swear he wags his tail every time Tech scores. (I shudder to think what will happen if and when we bring children into this equation. )

Each of us says something to the other about how we are certain our team is going to lose this year (lies, all lies) and that it is, after all, only a football game (and only the most nail-biting, heart-pounding, soul-deflating encounter we face each year as Mr. and Mrs.). We cheer silently and pretend to be only half-interested in the game. My nerves typically get the better of me, as I am known for being the hot-tempered, passionate one who is the teensiest bit fanatical about her school, and I turn to Facebook for moral support. I chat online with friends who also have Yellow Jacket spouses, all the while glaring over the laptop at what is unfolding on TV.

Depending on how things are progressing, I have been known to leave the room and watch from the bedroom instead--somehow, I feel more comfortable distancing myself from my "enemy" for the evening until I know the outcome. Arguments will arise and I will say things such as, "no, I am not mad at you about the football game. I'm mad because *insert fabricated reason here* and you should know that. How insensitive can you possible be?!" The man dressed in the old gold jersey will roll his eyes and shake his head.

When it's all over and the dust has settled, one of us has emerged the victor. This person has earned bragging rights for the next year. And in this house, bragging rights means that the winner keeps their head down and their mouth shut. They walk into another room and very quietly do their victory dance in secret. Over the course of the year, when said game is mentioned, the winner may ever-so-slightly meet the glance of the loser and say--with their eyes only--I WON. It must never, ever, be spoken aloud under penalty of cold shoulder and indefinite banishment to sleeping on the couch.

This year, Clint will be out of town on business when our teams take the field (pure coincidence? I'm not so sure). Which means we will get a slight reprieve from all the discomfort of watching this showdown together. However, at some point he will return home, and so all the same rules still apply. And now you know the survival basics of making it through this very clear and present danger. May the best team win--especially if that team is mine. GO TIGERS!

Friday, November 8, 2013

I Feel Pretty

I have to walk the dog. The dog must be walked. This ordinary ordeal is made extra difficult today due to the fact that my world is still blurry around the edges and swaying dizzily from the double shot of Nyquil (no chaser) I downed last night. I enhanced that with a heavy dose of migraine medication and am still waiting, ever so patiently, for something to take effect. But I have been sick for five days now, and I am starting to fear mutiny in the Stancil house if I don't put one foot in front of the other and get it going around here.

Off we go. Walking Cotton is basically like dragging an 18-pound bowling ball on a leash. He is 11-years old, blind, and in no hurry to get through with his walk and return to the rest of his day, which normally consists of waiting on me while I flat iron, makeup, Facebook, and/or run errands. I pull him along, a solid two feet behind me, while coaxing him with my usual, "Cotton, please, walk. Please." and "Come on, let's get going. You need to walk." (Note to self: add "motivational speaker for canines" to resume). He moves forward a total of three inches and pauses to spend the next five full minutes sniffing what looks to me to be a very run-of-the-mill patch of grass.

At this point, you should know I have dressed myself in an insanely chic Hanes sweatshirt in a fetching shade called eggplant, which has given me a strong resemblance to the beloved children's character Barney, the purple dinosaur. The physique I'm rocking can best be attributed to a weeklong diet of double noodle soup and chicken pot pie. It's the anti-Atkins plan, if you will, following that old age to carb load a cold and sugar fix a fever. To that, I've added my well-worn yoga pants onto which I just sneezed and wiped my palms, and accessorized with a high quality pair of fleece gloves I found in a $3.99 bargain bin at Old Navy several years ago. Did I mention I have a wad of Kleenex tucked in my sleeve like my granny used to do?

We shuffle along and, as luck would have it, run smack into the neighborhood Power Walk Posse. Despite the nippy 52-degree temperature, they are dressed fashionably in tennis skirts that reveal legs the size of Popsicle sticks--if Popsicle sticks were shapely and toned to perfection--with matching half-zip shirts and shiny, bouncy pony tails. They greet us, take in the whole scene, and exchange knowing glances and stifled giggles. The on-foot fashionistas stomp on. Cotton and I toddle on through the rest of our route.

An hour later, I have returned to my well-worn spot on the couch and am getting ready for Days of Our Lives and another bowl of double noodle. I tell you this tale for one reason: someone should get something good out of this little adventure. I hope that whatever you are doing/wearing/thinking right now, you suddenly feel much more attractive in comparison. Believe me when I say that you should.

Happy weekend, darlings. You look marvelous!