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Jul 28, 2008

How French Manicures Attract Boyfriends

. Jul 28, 2008
13 Whispers

I'm exploring a new candy shop in an outdoor entertainment area down my street. No matter how old I become, I will always enjoy candy parlours because I have a permanent case of whimsy. This store is edible imagination. There are many giant barrels of sweets on the floor, vines of goodness hanging from the ceiling, every kind of jelly bean waiting to be dispensed and retro candy galore.

The store buzzes with customers, mostly children darting from one display to another squealing, "Mom! Mom!" for no particular reason. The air smells sweet and the shop feels happy. Even the employees seem to be enjoying themselves. They wear bright candy cane striped aprons. Some circulate sample trays to eager customers.

Chocolate people in a display case catch my attention. They are paper doll style. The mix and match clothes and accessories are made of sugar. Two young girls are picking out there candy dolls' clothing, which are glued on with hot sugar. Both girls are about six, have blond bobbed hair, wear shorts and sandals. They are white; one has sun-kissed legs and while the other is very fair. They each stand tipped-toed against the doll case as they pick their accessories. After the choices are made and the worker begins gluing, the girls relax a little and chatter together:

Tan: If they had nail polish, I would pick nail polish for my doll.
Fair: Yeah, me too. I would pick hot pink.
Tan: No, you should pick French. That's the very best one.
Fair: Why? What color is French?
Tan: It's white and clear. It's really fancy. And it makes you look expensive.
Fair: Why do you want to look expensive?
Tan: Because then you get better boyfriends. My Mom said. And it's true. She always gets more boyfriends when she has French nails. Finger AND toe nails.

The fair-skinned girl is silent. She glances at her own fingernails. The candy employee hands them their chocolate dolls in elaborate boxes just as an adult female joins them. "All ready, girls?" she asks as both children show their selections. As the tan girl continues telling the woman about her doll, the fair-skinned girl grabs the woman's hand and looks at her nails. They are painted rose pink. The girl presses her mother's hand to her cheek and smiles.

Jul 18, 2008

Slow Down and Stand Up

. Jul 18, 2008
12 Whispers

I don't often go to mass midweek, but something is looming for me and I am one of those Catholics who feel my prayers might get on the express way if I show up in person. I am hop skipping toward the church entrance, arriving five minutes into the service, as usual. My mindset is not quite right for church. On this busy weekday dawn, my head is already filled with reminders and tasks for the office, a place that's further away on a Sunday morning.

Reaching the church doors, I wait behind a few people and wonder why the delayed entry. My impatience becomes a sigh and I peer around the heads in front of me. I glimpse the side of a wheelchair and it's pusher navigating the narrow side entryway and the pews. Great, I think to myself. I always pick the slow line.

After a few moments, we filter in. I hurriedly poke my finger in the holy water vessel and some splashes on my hand. Quickly, I slide into a pew near the back, averting my eyes from the priest who I am certain notes my tardiness. Only one other woman sits nearby, an older lady clutching a rosary with eyes shut in prayer. Most of the parishioners sit in the front pews, mostly elderly women alone. A handful of younger adults are scattered about.

As I kneel to pray, my cell phone vibrates in my bag. I am missing a network breakfast this morning and a wave of annoyance tightens my chest. Before I bow my head, I habitually look at my watch. I hope this mass will not be too lengthy. Perhaps I'll make the second half of the breakfast meeting.

I kneel, I rise, I pray, all with good, albeit, distracted intentions. And now it is communion time. As I wait for my row to be lead, I gather my belongings to exit directly after receiving. Standing there in the church as the sun glints through the stained glass windows, a serenity asserts itself ahead of my daily worries and I pause to feel what I think is divine peace.

When I look again to the front of the communion line, the wheelchair and its pusher are next. An old man sits in the chair as an equally old woman wheels him forward. They reach the priest, who smiles broadly and steps back a bit. The woman walks around to the front of the wheelchair and slowly kneels down. I cannot see what she is doing. She comes around to her husband's left side and slips her arm under his. The man is rising, carefully but purposely rising from the chair. He bobs slightly forward and backward as he leans on his wife, who supports him as the priest places the communion wafer in his mouth.

Only after the man faces the alter and crosses himself does he sit back down in his wheelchair. The two slowly wheel away and back into the front pew. The woman kneels beside her husband's chair and I glance at her as I approach the priest. She prays, hands clasped, eyes closed and smiling gently. Her husband places his hand on her head and bows his own.

I take communion. I pass the exit and continue back to my pew. I kneel. I push the breakfast, the annoyance of getting up earlier and the restless thoughts out of my mind and pray.


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