This column originally appeared in the Sept. 2, 2008 Smith Mountain Eagle.
Howdy! Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop in the heart of downtown Rock Bottom US of A, where we are running our “Salvage Your Looks Before It’s Too Late” special in conjunction with the Rock Bottom House of Polyester’s annual spandex foundation garment sale. If Father Time has already taken away what Mother Nature gave you, you need to stop in to see us so we can disguise as much of the damage as possible Also, if your hair is limp on account of the high humidity from last week’s storms, we can fix that too. Now lessee what we got in the mail:
Dear Ida B. I hear tell some guy was gonna open a microbrewery in downtown Rock bottom only town council wouldn’t let him. What’s with that? Granted, I’d rather have a maxi-slug rather than a micro-sip, but I’ll take what I can get if it’s convenient.—Beer Belly
Dear Beer Gut: What you heard was correct. Seems like the other businessmen in town didn’t want a legal enterprise taking away their business (though they’d like to make it very clear that what they isn’t actually a business—it’s merely a sampling of a home remedy for medicinal purposes for their special friends), so they put pressure on town council to oppose it. Even Rev. Al E. Looyah of the Rock Bottom Church of the Surging Inner Spirit says it might even cut into the church’s all-the-communion-wine-you-can-drink special.
Dear Ida B. I didn’t plant a garden this year, so everybody that did has been giving me vegetables. At first it wasn’t so bad, but when I got home yesterday, there were so many zucchinis piled in front of my door that I couldn’t get inside. And that was after, I crawled over the pile of tomatoes on my porch, which I could hardly see for all the cucumbers stacked up on my steps. If folks would just ask me if I needed any vegetables, I could refuse them, but they sneak their excess onto my property while I’m away. What can I do?—Desperate
Dear Desperate: I suggest you bag up all the vegetables and wait until about midnight. Then have your kids disguise themselves and leave the bags full of veggies on the neighbor’s stoops. Tell the kids it is like a reverse Trick-or-Treat. The reason you want to have your kids make the drop is that they can run a lot faster than you can but can’t carry as much, just in case someone should come out and make you take double the veggies home.
Dear Ida B. I am a first year teacher who just can’t cope. My 25 students are all wonderful, but their parents won’t leave me along. Every day, several call “just to keep in touch” and it takes my entire planning period to talk to them. When I get home, I have a dozen or more emails from the ones who didn’t call me at school. Some of the persistent ones text message me in class to see if their kids are all right. Last night, at least six called to tell me they hadn’t finished their kids’ science projects yet and could they have an extension. What can I do?—Swamped with Work
Dear Swampy: This is a modern problem. When I went to school—back in the days of parental non-involvement, parents didn’t want to know what was going on at school, figuring that what they didn’t know wouldn’t cause them grief. The important thing was that the kids were out of the house and not messing it up. A few years ago, the helicopter parents started hovering. Now, we got the jet-ski parents: they rush in, make waves, demand your attention, and leave you bobbing about it their wake. About the time you’ve recovered, they zoom in again. If you change phone numbers and email addresses every couple of weeks, you might get a little relief. But don’t bet on it. However, if you are so frazzled from dealing with them that your hair is a mess, come on down to Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop and we’ll fix you up.
Dear Ida B. I have several kids in the Rock Bottom schools, and their teachers just won’t cooperate with me. I know it is important for parents to be involved, so I try to call each teacher daily to let them know that I’m there for them and my kids. However, yesterday when I called the twins’ teacher to see if they’d eaten all their lunch that I spent nearly half an hour packing, she hung up on me. When I called my daughter’s gym teacher to make sure that Bubbette sits on the bench instead of doing aerobics so she doesn’t get over-heated on these hot days, she hung up on me, too. At the high school, I couldn’t even get through to Bubba Jr.’s science teacher to tell him I needed more time to finish his science project. He wouldn’t answer his cellphone, and the school secretary wouldn’t even let me talk to him because they were having a fire drill or something. Well, Ida B., it ain’t like they have real fires during the drills! She should have put me through. I have tried calling the teachers at home, because they’re bound to be there at midnight, but all of them seem to have unlisted numbers. What can I do to stay involved in my kids’ education? —Concerned Mama
Dear Meddling Ma: The only way you can stay really involved in your kids’ education is to homeschool them. The Rock Bottom teachers will thank you. Your kids might not be so grateful though. But you can communicate your concerns to yourself whenever you want without having yourself hang up on you or refuse to pass on a message. Another possibility is that you get less involved with your kids and more involved with your looks. Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop can help you with that.
Well, that’s it for this go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free.