Fame, Anyone?

Happy Friday, friends! In case you’re wondering, yes, I have noticed that my blog is plain. Very plain. No pictures or cute characters winking or even pseudo-old pictures of my family or our cat or dogs or the fire in our fireplace. I really would like to eventually post a fireplace picture because that would give this blog a much more “Little House on the Prairie” feel. Developing a blog with a “Little House on the Prairie” feel would be a goal of mine, if I were in the market to add new goals. And I’m not.

I’ve been thinking a lot about fame lately and its fleeting nature. So I’m posting a column I wrote about a year ago after a family trip to Hollywood.

Hollywood Fame

School is now in session. But this week’s column isn’t about the benefits of studying English or science or math. Truthfully, I would never write a column about the benefits of studying math. I still remember Mama helping me with algebra problems in high school. She’d say with such enthusiasm, “Oh Lisa, these kinds of problems are so much fun!” I hate to break it to you, Mama. Those problems were never fun. Algebra and I never became good friends and so it is to this day.

This column isn’t even about the importance of diligence or obeying the teacher though both of those things are extremely important this time of year. This column is about a very important subject to most students. It’s about popularity. Fame. How does one get it? How does one keep it?

On our family trip to California this summer, we spent one day in Hollywood. One day was plenty because Hollywood is so…well, Hollywood-ish. We saw a movie in the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater. We walked on the Hollywood Walk of Fame where the rich and famous have trod. Our boys placed their hands in the handprints of their favorite movie stars and had their pictures taken. A good time was had by all. But our day in Hollywood didn’t make me long for fame and fortune. No. Quite the opposite.

Large crowds of people surrounded the sidewalk stars of the most recent Hollywood actors. You had to wait a while to get a close look at Johnny Depp’s star or Brad Pitt’s handprints. People were crowding around the handprints of the Harry Potter actors or the star bearing Drew Barrymore’s name.

But it didn’t take long to realize that fame with all of its promise is fleeting. Profoundly temporary. Here for a while, maybe even years, but not for forever. You can imagine my shock at hearing young people say things like, “Was Kenny Rogers a singer?” “Was Clark Gable an actor or a music person?” “I’ve never heard of Mac Davis.” It was a poignant moment in time. Just a few years ago people had crowded around those stars. They wanted to get their pictures made placing their hands into the handprints of those they deemed famous, popular, larger than life. But today? Today kids like mine walk right by having never heard of them.

So it is with Hollywood fame. And International business fame. And pro sports fame. And small town fame. And yes, even high school fame. Those who think they stand on the cusp of popularity and greatness need to be wary for history has taught us that they’ll not stand there for long. Today’s star will hardly be remembered tomorrow. Forgotten.

In Hollywood, I felt sad about the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame who are now being ignored. Names we no longer recognize. But there was a profound truth being illustrated as we walked down Hollywood Boulevard. A truth which has changed my life. If people love me today, I can’t be defined by that love. If they ignore me tomorrow, I can’t be defined by that either. Most likely my name will never be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But I can live with that. I am a child of the King and He never forgets His own.

Blah Blah Blog

I haven’t had a blog until now because, well, even the word “blog” sounds like blah, blah, blah, stomach virus. I never want to use words to abuse or irritate the general public. But I’ve been told by several people that writers are “supposed” to have a blog. I like to do what I’m supposed to do. You can ask my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Thomason. I was not the sharpest kid in the class but one time I forgot my homework and I cried and cried because I didn’t want her to be disappointed in me. So I’m going to start a blog because I don’t want people to be disappointed in me and because watching a 49-year-old chubby woman cry is, well, worse than a stomach virus.

My goal is to post every Friday. I might be posting news about “Doug and Carlie,” my new fiction book about a chubby funny Georgia girl on a quest for love and literary success. I might post recent newspaper columns. For more than eight years, I’ve written a weekly column for “The Union City Daily Messenger” and “The Weakley County Press.” I PROMISE not to post what I had for breakfast or breaking news of my upper respiratory infection.

I’m starting by posting two columns. One is light-hearted and funny and the other is more serious. I trust you to figure out which one is which. Blog readers are smart like that.

Refrigerator Rocket Science

I hope the refrigerator you own lasts forever or at least until you pass from this life to the next. If not, you’ll have to do what we did last week. Refrigerator shopping is not for the weak-minded.

My husband and I are practical. We have a washing machine because we want clean clothes. We have a dryer because I don’t want everyone on our country road to see my big-girl panties hanging on the line. We have a refrigerator because we don’t want our children to drink spoiled milk and get horribly sick and throw up all over the hall carpet because then we would have to replace the carpet. And I could never decide on a color.

I know I say it all the time in this column. But people have gone crazy. Stark ravin’ crazy. A friend recently got a new washing machine. I said, “Oh no! What happened to your old one?” I knew it must have leaked water all over the floor or set the house on fire or injured one of her children. I mean, that’s the only thing that would ever make me shell out the money for a new appliance.

“Nothing’s wrong with the old washing machine, Lisa. I just wanted a new red front-loading washing machine and dryer. And it’s wonderful. Really wonderful.”

I would like to share a word of wisdom with all readers everywhere. A baby is wonderful. A trip to the Grand Canyon is wonderful. A washing machine is a washing machine. If my clothes are clean, I will never replace my $295 washing machine. Ever. For the rest of my life. I mean, after I’m dead and gone, I hope it is washing the clothes of my great-grandchildren.

Shopping for a refrigerator in this current culture of stylish appliances was beyond challenging for me and my practical husband. The salesperson was enthusiastic which made things even worse. “So what kind of refrigerator are we looking for today?”

My reply was truthful, “Something to keep milk cold.”

She laughed. “Yes, but what kind of features did you want? Side-by-side? Top freezer? Shelf organizer? Life organizer? Aerodynamic lettuce crisper? Better gas mileage?”

Okay. So maybe she didn’t say the part about gas mileage. But it all became a blur. Where were the plain refrigerators that keep milk cold?

She spoke again, “Well, let’s start with color. Most people want these stainless steel models now. They’re very stylish.”

Stylish must be another word for “school cafeteria.” Stainless steel refrigerators remind me of a school cafeteria which reminds me of the year we had Chuckwagon sandwiches every Thursday. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t want to think about Chuckwagon sandwiches every morning at 6:00 when I pour orange juice.

“No, we don’t want stainless steel or white or black. We just want a soothing cream color which matches our counter tops.”

“Oh, that will be almost impossible to find now because most people want stainless steel or black.”

We learned a very important lesson the day we went refrigerator shopping. There are some things worth fighting for. A cream-colored refrigerator without an aerodynamic lettuce crisper is not one of those things.
Every morning I’m now greeted by the appliance version of Darth Vader. But I have very crisp lettuce. If only I cared.

Romance Vs. Pornography

There’s some confusion in America right now, especially among young women.  I’m not naïve enough to believe a lowly newspaper columnist can alleviate that confusion.  But I’m certainly willing to try.

Romance is not pornography and vice versa.  In case the current books or movies have affected your sensibility in this area, allow me to explain.  A man who attacks you on the first date is not a romantic.  And no, you shouldn’t go out with him again.  A man who wants what he wants and won’t take “no” for an answer is not a romantic.  At all.

I didn’t think I had to explain this to women.  But evidently I do.  Or someone does.  I’m disturbed that popular books and movies portray men acting like animals and women totally giving up on romance.  But if our culture does give up on romance, it won’t just devastate individuals.  It will devastate our culture.

Romance is an important slow-moving process by which desire grows.  Oh, the desire may be there from the beginning of a relationship.  Absolutely.  Romance is not the deadening of that sexual desire or the thwarting of natural attraction.  No.  Romance is the process by which all that desire begins an important journey.  A journey that combines natural desire with character, faithfulness, and trust.

See, here’s the deal.  If you want to experience all the joys of physical intimacy for years and years (and I highly recommend that), it’s best to start that process slowly and in the right order.  And yes, there’s an order.  A very distinct order.

It’s been said that the greatest compliment a man can give a woman is to ask the simple question, “Will you marry me?” Sadly, that question is asked less and less in our current culture.  It’s not difficult to figure out why.  Couples have chosen physical intimacy before commitment.  No strings attached.  That sounds great, if only it worked.  Statistics are clear.  It usually doesn’t.

Real romance doesn’t begin with sex.  Romance begins with conversation. Those conversations deepen your appreciation of the other person.  All of that conversation and closeness leads to even further desire and the process continues.

In fact, sometimes that heightened desire leads men and women to do the craziest most beautiful things.  I know a young man who once spent several hours hiking down a mountain during a week-long hunting trip to walk to a convenience store to call his girlfriend who lived in Texas.  This was long before cell phones.  Sadly, the woman who had captured his attention wasn’t home that night.  So he had to walk all the way up the mountain again.  But that’s okay.   She was impressed and appreciative of his romantic gesture.  A month later he asked her to marry him.  She never hesitated.  They got married four months later.

Though 25 years have passed, she’s still impressed with him. Impressed with his kindness and his faithfulness.  She stands in awe of his daily commitment to work and pay bills and labor alongside her to raise two teenage boys.  Some may think their lives are pretty boring.  But life is anything but boring at their house.  They’ve been blessed with a life-long love.  And that is romance at its very best.