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Coasting along

coastersToday I’m sharing a work-in-progress that I plan to read aloud at one of the storytelling events I venture into now and again. Please read it with that thought in mind—or however you want. As always…enjoy.

Dear Jim,

Enclosed find six coasters that I’d like you to give to your Mom for her beverages. I mean—not all her beverages—I don’t assume she needs all six coasters for herself, (unless, of course, there’s a problem you haven’t mentioned.) I mean for her guests, like if you’re visiting then you can use one. Not that I’ve ever see you use a coaster when we’ve been out and about. Just saying that you can if you want.

These coasters are not new. Well, two of them might be new; they look new. I put them on top.

Two of ‘em look average, like they might’ve been used fairly carefully. You can see some slight soaked-in-drink spillage. I think that gives ‘em a “homey, welcoming look,” but I’m easily pleased, and I hope your Mom is as well. I put those two in the middle.

The last two look like they were the target of a rocket-propelled grenade attack, but emerged as winners from the skirmish (if there are any winners in such circumstances.) These last two are on the bottom. They’re for when she has more guests than planned, or maybe those are the ones you can use when you visit, again, if you choose to use any. Personally, I’d give ‘em to the guests I like the least, sort of a pecking order of politeness. Now that I think about it, at her age, your Mom shouldn’t have to entertain unwanted company, but that’s just my opinion.

I’m sending these as the belated gift I was looking for when you threw that big birthday party for your Mom’s 65th. Surely, you recall the occasion: That party you can remember planning for a month but can barely remember attending because you mixed wine and beer and a couple of shots, as well as some drink made up of some mixed alcohol that came with fruit crushed in the bottom? (“Murder Mojito” ring a bell? It certainly rung yours.) It was orange, which was funny ‘cause about the time the cake was served, you were orange. You called in sick to work two days later, wow…good one!

Anyways, I brought flowers instead of a wrapped gift. These coaster thingies were the type of flashy/memorable gift I was looking for but couldn’t find.

A week before her birthday, I thought shopping for your Mom’s present would be easy. You told me she loved lighthouses, so I was looking for something lighthouse “themed” and figured a vintage plate or picture would be perfect. I was thinking $25 tops. I took my wife and sister to help me look at one of those antique stores. You know the kind; where a bunch of people have stuff they want to sell, but not enough to sell by themselves, so they all get together and stock booths with only their stuff (probably their grandmother’s stuff that they don’t want to store and decide to sell instead). I went to one of those, and turns out there are over 200 vendors with just “stuff.”

Interestingly, all this collection is “manned” by a woman (funny word choice) cashier who keeps her eye on everything from hubcaps to bowling pins to comic books, but who doesn’t know where anything specifically is. Still, she looks mean, and she’s all the security this place needs, as it seems she’d win an argument or a fistfight with anyone caught shoplifting, or breaking something, or just disagreeing about the weather. I didn’t know if the prices were negotiable but wasn’t gonna find out. I figure I simply had to be able to find a lighthouse do-hickey for your Ma, especially with so many things to look through, and my helpful wife and my eagle-eyed sister in tow.

After 50 minutes, I was dry on over 150 booths. OK, I wasn’t totally dry, I found one calendar from the 50’s that had a seascape, which included a lighthouse, but who wants an old calendar? Unless March of 1954 was some sort of special month/year in your Mom’s life that I didn’t know about. But too late if it was, she got flowers back then, and coasters with lighthouses on ‘em now.

Side note: I did get distracted for 5 to 20 minutes at booth 112 which had some vintage Playboys. And, I’m happy to say, that vintage breasts are still great breasts. But when I did the math and realized the cashier at the front desk could actually be Miss November 1961, I moved on to booth 113.

Anyway, at the 50-minute mark, I noticed my wife and sister hadn’t moved from this one corner that had no tchotchkes of any kind, just furniture. A full 50 minutes standing, looking, and whispering to each other. Now, it’s true we’d been looking for a dining room table and we could use a living room couch, but we had a goal today: To find something with a lighthouse on it. So far I’d come up empty, and they were of no help being hypnotized by some mid-century/Danish modern/bohemian casual mix of wooden made places to sit and eat.

My wife asked me to “please, sit at the table” and “try the couch.” And by “try the couch” she means try it in nap position ‘cause, for me, that’s all that matters. And, yeah sure, it was all comfy, and I made the mistake of saying so. The table was really nice looking, and apparently the set came with two end tables, all matching. Seems good for whoever bought ‘em. which I quickly discovered might be us.

At that point the lighthouse search had to be completely abandoned, as all my energy was required to talk them out of getting this furniture.  Cut to the finish line: I lost.

Two strong women who want something like a dining room table and a couch, not to mention the matching end tables, (even though I just mentioned ‘em) apparently outweighs the importance of one guy searching for a $25  cup, plate, or statue of a lighthouse to give to his good friend’s mother for her once in a lifetime 65th birthday. (I know— sometimes even the best women can be so thoughtless!)

During the discussion, I felt like a flyweight getting into the ring with tag-team heavyweights (although they’re both slim in real life) who weren’t wearing gloves but rather one wielding a cudgel (I had to look that word up to make sure I was using it and spelling it right) and the other a fully loaded side arm in case things miraculously went two rounds. Plus, they quickly added the woman at the front desk to their corner.

I should’ve brought a cut man.

There was no standing eight count, It wasn’t a split decision. The final scorecard; Strong Women: 1, My Wallet: 0.  At the end, I think I may have looked like those mangled coasters after the grenade attack (the two on the bottom) because that’s certainly how I felt.

And here months later, I finally found something lighthouse-y for your Mom. When you look at it, these six coasters ended up costing me $1,876.37 (not including delivery) all because I was looking for a birthday trinket under 25 bucks. You don’t need to tell your Mom that, but when I visit, I want one of the top four coasters. That’s a must.

Expensive Lesson Learned: Next time I shop alone. I’m gonna go nap. (The new couch really is comfy!)

Best to your Mom!

Your pal,