Loose Screws in Texas

“Bounce it! Bounce it!” a person named Susan was shouting at me from the other side of the net.

“I know the rules, Susan!!” my voice was raised as I whacked the ball as hard as I could back over the net aiming for her head.

I missed her head and the ball flew out of bounds (It surely would have been a home run had I been playing baseball) and I lost the point. I am normally not at all mean spirited but this woman was obnoxious and had been adamantly bossing us all around.

“Susan,” our coach Dave said gently, “if this had been tournament play you would have lost that point for shouting over the net to your opponent!” Susan glared at him menacingly and if looks could kill, coach would be dead.

I have recently taken up Pickle Ball. I wish it were called something else because that doesn’t sound very fierce but it is a fast paced game and a cross between badminton and tennis. The court is one-third the size of a tennis court and much of the game is played volleying at the net. It’s the fastest growing sport in the country because the baby boomers are aging (me) and it’s not as hard on the body as tennis but just as much fun. I am happy to say I am a very good pickle ball player as the skills I acquired playing 15 years of tennis were directly transferable to the sport. It is a very convenient sport if you are the victim of the dreaded Dallas weather of severe ice storms, extreme winds, torrential rain, oppressive humidity and outrageous heat because it is played indoors in a gym.

Dave is a youthful 71 years old, is very outgoing and gregarious, has a charming South African accent and an irrepressible sense of humor. I have so much fun with him. I also have a great time with the other women in our group.

“Dave!” Susan shouted, “You have to quit calling the score! Whoever is serving should call the score! It’s incorrect in Pickle Ball for one person to call the score, Dave!” Scoring in Pickle Ball is very confusing and is the only thing I didn’t pick up immediately and am still struggling with.

“I want him to call the score, Susan!” I loudly interjected, “I’m still learning the scoring!” Mitra backed me up by forcefully saying she also wanted him to call score.

Things were getting really weird and Dave made an attempt to lighten things up and with a delightful smile on his face he said, “Susan, quit bossing me around. You are not my wife,” as he walked away to get some water.

“Thank god I am not your wife. I wake up every morning and thank god I am not your wife!!” Susan viciously asserted.

It was so bizarre and I was realizing this woman has a real screw loose and I couldn’t help laughing as Dave approached me. “Did you hear what she just said?” I said.

“What?” he said. I repeated her comment.

“Do you think she knows the feeling is mutual?” Dave laughed.

As we said our goodbyes and see you next week Susan said she would not be there next week. It was all the rest of us could do not to break into applause.

Provocative Neighbors

“I still need to know what you do about Termites,” I called out to Joanne as I approached she and Peter on her driveway. Joanne is my next door neighbor and Peter does the landscape maintenance for both our houses.

“Oh, yeah,” she said, “I’m not really sure what my guy does but he’s coming a week from tomorrow so I’ll have him knock on your door.”

“Well, wait, what company is it? I’ve already interviewed three and there are things I don’t like about all three of them,” I said as I noticed that Joanne’s dress was completely see through and I could see the silhouettes of her thighs all the way up to her crotch.

“It’s called BugsAway. They’re great! Family owned, very nice people, Christian, they’re great.”

I laughed and I could tell by the look on her face my laughter needed some explaining. “I’m not from Texas or anywhere in the Bible Belt so I’m not used to hearing Christian as a selling point,” I said.

Peter chuckled.

“Trustworthy!” she blurted, “I meant trustworthy by that.”

“Well, I was raised a Catholic and they were molesting alter boys, so I’m not sure you can always equate the two,” I said. Peter laughed out loud. “In fact,” I went on, “if someone held a gun to my head and said I had to align with an organized religion, it would probably be Buddhism. But wait! I hardly know you guys! I’m not supposed to be talking about politics, sex or religion!” Peter threw his head back laughing.

“Where are you going!?” I then demanded of Joanne.

“To her mailbox,” Peter said. I think he knew what I was getting at.

“I just got back from swimming,” Joanne said.

“Oh, it’s a bathing suit cover! I was gonna say your dress is completely see through and was going to offer to lend you a slip!”

Peter was laughing so hard he had to walk away.


Gorillas Anyone?

Today I was at the zoo with my beloved Western Lowland Gorillas speaking to zoo guests about them. I have become an amateur expert on these gorgeous apes and almost nothing makes me happier than to be in their presence educating the public about their intelligence, behavior and endangered status. (94,000 Western Lowland Gorillas left in the world. 300 Mountain Gorillas left in the world! 300!!) Juba, a 420 pound boy knows my face and sometimes gives me little kisses from behind the three layers of glass that separate us.

The gorilla habitat is one acre and today at midmorning I could not see one gorilla from the Gorilla Research Station or from any other outdoor viewing deck. I keep track of where the apes are so I can escort the zoo visitors to where they can see them. But I could not see even one.  The Dallas zoo creates habitats for the highly intelligent animals to be allowed to get away from humans when they want or need to.  Today was very hot and humid and the boys surely were hiding out in the dry mote in shady spots out of view.

Suddenly, I looked from the Station to a viewing deck across the habitat and saw two zoo employees pointing into the habitat who were clearly very engaged. They must see gorillas over there, I thought, so I quickly took off in that direction.

Once I arrived, the guys were gazing over the deck into the habitat with such concentration that I figured one of the gorillas was playing in the water, which is a stunning sight. When I see it, I feel at peace with the world. I walked over close to the two men and looked over the handrail. The breeze was rustling through the trees, the squirrels were having a field day with the gorilla food as usual and the little waterfall was trickling at a somewhat odd pace into the shallow gorilla pool. There was not a gorilla in sight. What are these guys gazing at? I thought.

After a while I finally asked, “What are you guys looking at? I can’t see one gorilla!”

“We are looking at the waterfall,” one of them said.

“Oh,” I giggled, “I was thinking you loved gorillas, but you love waterfalls?”

“Well, we care about them,” he said, “we are the team in charge of the water features at the Dallas Zoo.”

Shauna in His Pool

Shauna in His Pool with Water Feature


Angel came out to the waiting room and in her normal manner said loudly “Thompson!”

I jumped up and went to her as she said, “Hi, how are you?” I always think that’s a weird question because if you are at the doctor, you are probably not doing so great. I hope people don’t just say fine instead of my back is killing me or I have chest pain or my head feels like it’s about to explode or my blood pressure is off the charts. But, I bet a lot of people do say fine just prior to being escorted into the little examination room where Angel finds out the truth. I can’t remember what I said to her in response but I don’t think it was fine. 

I know you guys read my blog with bated breath and I know what you are thinking. What?!? She’s at the doctor again? Another surgery for this Accidental Texan? This is becoming too much!! Nope, no more surgery, I was there for my annual well woman exam but also because my blood pressure had been sky high.  I have “White Coat Syndrome” which means when I’m in a medical setting my blood pressure is super high. Since I don’t want to give Angel high blood pressure when she sees my blood pressure reading, I take it at home for several days before my appointment, record the great results on a little index card and give it to her to calm her nerves. (Just kidding, Angel is NOT a nervous type, she’s super competent, very grounded and has probably seen way worse than my reading today, I hope.)

However, this week I could NOT get a decent blood pressure reading in the days prior to my appointment. Every time I took a reading I was shocked at how high it was. I didn’t write anything on my little index card.

“So Andrea,” Dr. Christy asked after several other questions inquiring about my high blood pressure, “What about your salt intake?”

“Wait!” I said. “Dr. Christy, does a gigantic salt intake affect your blood pressure immediately, or does it happen over time?”

“No, a gigantic intake affects it immediately.”

“Oh my god,” I said, “You are not going to believe this.”

“What?!” she exclaimed eagerly, fingers ready on her keyboard.

“Steve just came back from some city famous for peanuts or maybe it was a stadium famous for them and he brought a gigantic bag of salted peanuts in the shell home. I don’t eat peanuts often because they are so fattening but I love salted peanuts in the shell and here is my dark, dirty secret. I suck them before I crack them open and eat them. And I mean I suck them until there is no salt left in them, then I crack the shell and eat the insides and I’ve been eating like 30 every day for the last week!”

Dr. Christy laughed out loud as she typed. “You are too funny,” she said. “And yes, that would raise your blood pressure!”

I don’t have many friends in Texas because I have lived here a short time and I’ve been preoccupied with medical issues. From the day I met her, I wanted to be friends with Dr. Christy. I didn’t feel I could be the one to initiate a social get together with her since doctors sometimes have rules for themselves about becoming friends with patients. I get that. If a friendship were to arise, the initiation would have to come from her and today it did. She said she wanted to get together in a social situation and do something fun. YAY!

As I was getting ready to leave Dr. Christy said, “Andrea, quit sucking on salted peanuts in the shell. Find something else to suck that doesn’t have so much sodium. I’m sure you can figure something out.”

Where Does Whole Foods Find Them?

What do you do with this?” a young checker at Whole Foods asked the 20-something girl in front of me in line as he held up a small bottle while ringing it up.

The girl glanced at his multiple piercings, bracelets and necklaces and looked sort of smitten. “I use it as perfume,” she said, “but it’s a lavender essential oil so it also helps with my sinuses and balances my chakras.” She looked at him hopefully with a smile. He looked at her sideways, took her money, handed her the bottle and then looked at me as she walked away. I was quietly laughing.

Well!” he blurted to me, “That’s her opinion on that!!” He rolled his eyes. “Ya know,” he went on, “I can hang with it when someone talks about healthy, pesticide free food being good for our bodies. But when they parlay into ‘the scent of vanilla will cure your tuberculosis’….No it won’t!! He rolled his eyes again. “If it did we would know that by now! Jus’ sayin’!” he said as they say often in Texas.