How was your Christmas? Was your mom doing better? Good, I'm pleased to hear that she's resting comfortably, but if I know her at all, she won't be sitting still for very long. What? She already wants to go to bingo and is ready to walk there? OK, then let her walk. Give her about a five-minute head start and "just happen to be driving by" and she will probably jump in the car without an invitation and ask for a lift and a ride home after bingo. The woman is a tough old bird, but even we tough ones need a rest.
Mine was more than I had bargained for. I became lots closer with my niece, her kids, and her mom. No, I didn't visit. They are a 7-hour drive from here, and I'm not ready for that. No, we did it all with pictures and postings on the web.
You know my grand nieces, yes, the twins. They are five, and I gave them all sorts of things so they can work with their mom in the kitchen. I sent them kid-sized aprons, chef's caps, oven mitts, cookie cutters, and a big chef's hat for their mom.
On Christmas Eve I got a photo on my Facebook wall showing the two girls in their new cooking things and their older brother who is 10, wearing the big chef's hat, making cookies! The smiles from those children were like nothing that I have seen! So much love among them and so much joy in having fun making cookies came through in that photo, it almost made me get all teary.
Their mom and her mom, that's right, Marianne, they dropped me a letter that they wrote together to tell me how much I am appreciated and how what I feel for the kids shows in what I send to them.
Well, Deb, it's hard to express the emotions in a hug over 500 miles, but I try to do it with gifts. Those and letters are two ways of telling the kids "I love you!"
Charlie and I had a very pleasant Christmas supper. We roasted a chicken and had mashed potatoes and gravy and a veggie, but we were so full so fast! I tell you, I must be slowing down!
After supper, we talked, and the subject of our careers came up. Now Charlie has worked at many different jobs and he loved them all. With his attention span, I can see why he never kept a job for very long. Me, I had a job in the same field for 30 years, with the same employer in Washington, DC for 20.
Charlie asked me what it was like to work in the place that some people think of as "the most powerful city in the world." I thought about what it was like to work for a government agency in downtown Washington and how much is just hype and inflated egos. And this is a story that I told to Charlie about my most memorable experience working in Washington.
I worked in an office that had constant contact with the public, so I dressed very well. I was a middle-aged, professional woman, and I looked the part.
One summer morning I wore a very dressy pants outfit to work because I was giving a presentation that day. I was to be in front of a group explaining charts and graphs and things, and I was dressed perfectly.
At about 0930 that morning I squatted down to pick up a paper clip from the floor and I split the seam in the seat of my pants! I did not need to feel around to find out how big the rip was. I could feel a draft on my ass.
But I was not upset. I knew of a menswear store up Virginia Avenue in a small shopping plaza and I discretely sat down at my desk and waited until after 1000 to walk up there.
I left the building, looking behind me to see how far away the closest person was and if they could see my white underwear sticking out of my dark pants. As I was walking up Virginia Avenue I started thinking of how funny it felt to be walking up this street, here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, as the anthem says, with the ass of my pants ripped out!
So I get to the men's clothing store, Jimmy Diaz, custom tailor. I don't care if he makes suits for chimpanzees. I need my pants fixed by Jimmy Diaz, tailor to the powerful!
I waited for almost an hour with my back to the wall in front of the shop. Whenever anyone who knew me walked by I would wave and chat a bit, but I would not tell them why I was there, nor would I step away from that wall!
After an hour of waiting I concluded that Jimmy Diaz was a wealthy man and was not opening that day, so I started walking towards the Watergate Apartment Complex (yes, *that* Watergate). It was about 10 minutes away. The day was getting warmer, but I got there with a tailwind and a breeze I felt from behind.
I walked about the shopping concourse and found the Watergate Valet Shop. If their tailor was in I had a chance of getting the rip sewn-up.
Into the shop I walked and the woman behind the counter said, "Buenas dias!"
Shit! I can't speak enough Spanish to ask for a glass of water, much less ask for a tailor! Many times in my life someone has told me that they would fix my ass. Where the hell are they now, when I need them?
I tried to explain to the girl behind the counter that I need to have my pants mended, but I was not making a connection. Finally, I turned around and showed her the torn ass of my pants.
There were three women in the shop: the woman in the front, one in the back, both of whom were rather young, and one elderly woman in the back, working on the sewing machine.
So I showed the one in front the hole in my pants by bending over and pulling it apart. She said something in Spanish to the girl in the back. All I understood was "pantalones." The one in the back told the old woman on the sewing machine. All I understood from her was "pantalones." It was then that I heard a laugh from the elderly woman. I have no idea in hell what was said besides the word "pantalones."
After establishing that I had to take the pants off to have them fixed I learned that there was neither a changing room nor a place to sit and wait while repairs were made. There was, however, an alcove with a pipe across it, upon which all of the clothes for mending were hung.
I pushed the clothes apart like a beaded curtain, got in the back of the clothes, took my pants off, and handed them to the woman from the front of the store. She walked in back with them. I heard more talking in Spanish and the word "pantalones" once more. And the old woman laughed again, too.
While waiting for my pants I peeked between the things on the rack and saw that all there was separating me and a lunchtime crowd outside was this rack of clothes and a plate glass window. If they looked-in, all they would see is this rack of clothes and a set of legs from the thighs down, wearing trouser socks and black 3-inch heels. The longer I thought of that, the funnier I thought it looked and I started to laugh!
A few minutes passed and a hand with my pants in it shot through the clothes on the bar. I put my pants on, paid the woman, bid them "adios," and walked out like nothing had happened.
I made my presentation, but I didn't pick up anything off the floor that day.
And that, Debra, is my best memory of working in the halls of power.
What did Charlie Give me for Christmas? Deb, he gave me a year of fine company and that, to me, is a wonderful gift.