Thursday, November 20, 2008


Yesterday was Mom's 75th birthday. Mid-afternoon, I went to the grocery store in preparation for her birthday dinner. The clerk who checked me out was purely fascinating: an African American woman in her mid-20s, I'd say. Let's call her Shayla (we might as well--her nametag did).

Shayla augments her own hair with hair manufactured from resources lying deep within the earth, the stuff we fight wars over. How she attached the petrochemical-based hair is a mystery because it appeared to originate in about 5 different places. The effect was quite unstructured (think windblown model) except at the crown of her head, where she had constructed a poof engineers should study. A headband lay delicately atop the creation: two narrow bands of plastic flocked with black velvet, accented with tiny rhinestones and a black velvet bow. 

Her black plastic glasses were accented with more rhinestones. What was behind the glasses was truly extraordinary: two separate lines of eyeliner, one black and one white, curled at the outer corners of her eyes in dramatic upward swoops. The eyeliner drew attention, but the false eyelashes brought it home. 

Shayla wore a black t-shirt over bright pink pants; shiny patent heels at least 3 inches high. A cellphone bejeweled with pink rhinestones dangled from her waist. Her fingernails were long and square, and the tips were decorated with black, white and pink lines accented with rhinestones. Every finger was adorned with a silver ring, two teeth adorned with gold.

I laid zucchini and grits and onions on the belt and cards on the table.  "How long does it take you to get ready?" 
This young woman has two children. She gets up and dressed, then wakes the kids and gets them ready, too. The process adds two hours to her day, which must already be long given that she stands on high heels behind a cash register for eight hours of it. 

"What gives you the energy to do that every day?"
"I go to bed early."

Like all of us, Shayla must have her challenges, but she meets them with a smile on her face and a bow in her hair. I admire that kind of optimism and determination.


kario said...

Priorities, huh? I love that she has made herself a priority and does something that makes her feel good about herself.

Happy bday to your mom!

luckyzmom said...

Wishing your Mom a happy new day!

Shayla sounds like a work of art!

Michelle O'Neil said...

God bless Shayla and happy birthday to Mom!

cheryl said...

Loved this line...

"I laid zucchini and grits and onions on the belt and cards on the table."

Deb said...

I admire the fact that you can make me laugh and cry at the same time. I admire the fact that you can write something this vivid and funny in the midst of the storm that is your life right now. I admire you, dear friend.