Sunday, May 9, 2010

What Not to Buy Your Sister-In-Law

On Friday night my boyfriend and I went to the Waterfront to eat at Bravo and visit some of the stores.  His original idea was to see Iron Man 2, but I refused.  The evening was enjoyable, and we both learned a lesson about makeup.

Matthew wanted to buy something in Ulta because his future sister-in-law, Heather, just had a birthday.  He thought it would be a good idea to pick out some cosmetics to send to her in Florida.  I was excited because it would allow me to shop around but not be tempted to buy anything for myself.  Lately I have been spending too much money on blush and eyeshadow.  About halfway through our trip we made it into Ulta.  I looked at some of my favorite brands and then realized that I really don't much about Heather.  Matt's brother has only been dating her for about a year, and they live in Florida.  I have only seen her twice, both at family events, so I never got the chance to say much besides, "Hello." 

As I was looking, I was wondering how I could pick out a cosmetic for someone I barely know.  Also, how could I pick out colors for someone with a permanent tan?  I was about to tell Matthew that I just couldn't do it when he spoke up.  He wondered if Heather would be offended by receiving makeup and skincare products.  I told him yes and we both realized how strange it was to be shopping for makeup for someone esle.  I suggested we look at body lotions, which are much more neutral gifts. 

The day after our shopping adventure I spent a few moments with Matthew's mother at a family party.  I explained to her how Matthew and I realized that it's weird to buy cosmetics for other people unless you know exactly what they want.  She said she wouldn't know, she never wore makeup....thus, I must be Matthew's makeup muse.  Sorry, Heather.  I hope body lotion is okay! 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sad, Sad Song of the South

Last summer I spent one weekend sorting through cardboard boxes that were filled with my family's books.  My brother and dad gave me full rein over their collections, saying I could decide what to keep and what to sell to Half Price Books.  My mom decided she wanted to go through her own books so that I would not get rid of any of her LaVyrle Spencers or Nora Roberts.  It was a fun task which allowed me to organize the books into "To Read" and "To Save" crates. 

One of the books that I placed in a "To Save" crate was Uncle Remus' collection of Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox stories.  I did this reluctantly because I remembered hating the book as a child.  It was such a beautiful book, though:  yellow hardcover with the dust jacket still on it and a colorful painting of Brer Fox sitting on a porch.  Thus, my saving it was more for looks than the content of the book.  I did not even look through the pages.  The question was lingering in the back of my mind, "Why do I have such bad memories of this book?" 

The answer came to me this week as I sat down with The Bedside Book of Famous American Stories, edited by Angus Burrell and Bennett A. Cerf.  I've been reading this book ever work day during my lunch breaks.  Usually I can finish one story during my hour-long break.  So, on Monday I sat down and turned the page to discover the next story I would be reading:  "Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and the Tar Baby" by Joel Chandler Harris.  It sounded like a pleasant story about animals, so I was temporarily excited.  Then I realized that Brer Fox was the character painted on the front of that beautiful book that I hadn't really wanted to save.  As I started reading, I immediately learned why I hated the book as a child.

"'Bimeby, one day, arter Brer Fox bin doin' all dat he could fer ter ketch Brer Rabbit, en Brer Rabbit bin doin' all he could fer to keep 'im fum it, Brer Fox say to hisse'f dat he'd put up a game on Brer Rabbit, en he ain't mo'n got de wuds out'n his mouf twel Brer Rabbit come a lopin' up de big road, lookin' des ez plump, en ez fat, en ez sassy ez a Moggin hoss in a barley-patch.'"  (Copyright, 1936, by the Modern Library, Inc.)

That book had to have been the most frustrating thing I laid my eyes on as a young reader.  I probably struggled through it wondering if I was losing all of my reading abilities.  I'm sure I did not say anything to my parents about my difficulties because I did not want them to think there was something wrong with me.  After all, Uncle Remus stories are for children; I should have no trouble reading simple tales about Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit.  My parents must have never opened the book when they bought it for me.  They too were attracted by the delightful cover.  No wonder I placed that book in a "To Save" crate so reluctantly. 

Even though I decided to save the book, I will never give it away to a child.  If I ever meet a person who studies dialects, I will be happy to give the book to them.  They can take the insides; I'll keep the binding!