Saturday, August 27, 2016

I LOVED THE COLLECTORS' SHOWS AT BAYSIDE EXPO


The other day, I was talking to someone about my many collections, which I’m now slowly selling on eBay, and he said, “Where did you get all of the stuff you collected?”

His question made me think back to all of the collectors’ shows my late husband I used to attend in our younger days. One of our favorites was held a couple times a year at Yoken’s in Portsmouth. But the one we enjoyed the most  - the Queen Mother of collectors’ shows - was held at Bayside Expo Center in Boston.

You name the collectible, and the Bayside Expo’s shows had it – everything from Barbie dolls to Superman comic books and even a vial of Elvis Presley’s perspiration.

One particular Bayside Expo show in the late 1990s, however, still stands out in my mind. For one thing, my husband really didn’t want to go, which was unusual for him.

“I’m getting tired of going to those shows,” he said, “And I really hate driving through Boston. I think we should just skip this one.”

“Skip it?!” I clearly was appalled. “But the newest Star Wars villain, the guy who plays Darth Maul, is going to be there – along with close to 100 other stars, all signing autographs! How can we possibly miss that?”

The look he gave me told me he couldn’t have cared less, even if Marilyn Monroe herself had arisen from the grave and would be there signing autographs at the show.

It took a lot of arm twisting, but I finally convinced my husband to take me to Bayside Expo.  But from the moment he agreed, the whole idea seemed to be cursed.

First of all, the day before the collectors’ show, my husband’s car started steaming worse than Old Faithful.  Our luck, it needed a new hose that had to be ordered from some far-off company that delivered only on days that began with the letter “T.”

That left only my little car for our excursion.  Unfortunately, my husband would rather have been dipped in honey and tossed into a giant colony of fire ants than drive my car, which he frequently compared to Barbie’s Dream Car. And there was no way I’d attempt to drive it through Boston, not even if all of the banks there had been handing out free $100 bills.

 Knowing how much I wanted to go to the collectors’ show, however, my husband finally relented and said he would drive me.

We thought the traffic in Boston wouldn’t be too bad on a Sunday morning, but we’d thought wrong.  Getting through the city seemed to take an eternity, especially since I was so eager to get to the show and meet the actor who played Darth Maul.  In fact, I’d even bought a disposable camera (there weren’t any cell-phone cameras back then) and tucked it into my purse, just in case a good photo opportunity presented itself.

It cost us six dollars just to get into the parking lot at the Expo Center.  It cost us another $20 to get into the building.  Every time my husband opened his wallet he grumbled, even though I offered to pay for my own admission (but I never actually unzipped my purse).  Finally, we set foot inside.

The center was huge, with tables and booths as far as the eye could see.  Lined up all along the wall were tables where the autograph-signing stars were seated. Their names were posted on signs behind their heads, for the benefit of those who didn’t recognize them.  The first star I recognized was Lou Ferrigno, who used to play the Incredible Hulk on TV.  He was sitting by himself, in all his muscular glory, with not a soul around him.  I rushed over.

He greeted me with a smile and a hello.  I took my camera out of my purse and asked him if I could take a photo of him.

“If you want to take a photo of me, it’s okay,” he said. “But if you want to take a photo WITH me, it’s $10.”

Maybe I was too na├»ve when it came to dealing with stars, but I honestly thought he was joking about the $10.  I laughed.  He didn’t.  I quickly snapped his photo and took off.

While my husband was busy looking at a table stacked with trading cards for sale, I checked out some of the other autograph tables.  I hardly recognized any of the stars’ names, which was pretty disappointing.  Even more disappointing was the fact Darth Maul turned out to be a no-show.  The only Star Wars character I saw was a guy who’d played a Jawa  (a little desert-dwelling hooded character) for a grand total of four minutes in the very first movie.  His autograph was $10, which seemed to be the going price there for anything associated with the stars.

As I continued to walk past the long line of tables, I happened to notice a striking young guy with shoulder-length hair and piercing blue eyes.  Without thinking, I stopped dead in front of his table and began to look at all the 8”x10” photos of him that were spread out across it.  They, however, were $20 apiece.

“Do you know who I am?” the young man’s voice suddenly interrupted my perusing

“No,” I said, still ogling his photos.  Before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “But you’re pretty sexy looking!”


It wasn’t until he laughed and thanked me that I realized what I’d said.  I felt my cheeks burst into flames.

“I play Byron on Babylon 5,” he said. “Have you ever watched the show?”

I shook my head.

“But you WILL watch it now, won’t you?” he said, smiling.

“I thought that show was canceled,” I said (once again tasting shoe leather from putting my foot in my mouth).

His expression sobered. “Yes, but there are always the reruns.”

I decided I’d better head to another table.  A few tables down, I was excited to recognize an actor who played Reverend Carpenter on one of my favorite soap operas, “One Life to Live.”

After he greeted me, I said, “I heard that your co-star on the show got fired because she was pregnant in real life.”

 “Oh, that’s a bunch of tabloid bull***t!” he said, in a very un-reverend-like manner.

Nevertheless, I splurged $10 for an autographed photo of him.  He took the photo I selected and, with pen in hand, asked, “So, what’s your name?”

“Oh, don’t put my name on it!” I said. “If you do, I won’t be able to resell it!”

 The taste of shoe leather returned.

Reverend Carpenter laughed, in spite of himself. “You’re a real pro at this, aren’t you!” he said.

I grabbed the photo and headed off to find my husband.  He was standing behind a post and staring at a table of autograph-signing former Playboy centerfolds.

“I’ll bet you’re thinking it would be pretty cool to have one of those centerfolds personally autograph a photo for you so you could show it to all your buddies,” I teased him.

He shook his head vigorously. “No way am I going over there."

“Tell you what,” I said, “you were so nice to bring me here, I’ll go get an autographed photo for you!”

So there I stood, in line with about 10 men, while my husband continued to hide behind the post.  Of course, I chose the Miss Centerfold who was so old, when her photo appeared in Playboy, the printing press had just barely been invented…but that was besides the point.

When we finally emerged from the collectors’ show three hours later, our arms filled with such must-have purchases as Laverne and Shirley dolls from the TV show of the same name, a Stormtrooper’s helmet and a Cher doll, we were surprised to see that the sky had turned black and exploded into a terrible storm.  We stood in the doorway and watched the unbelievably heavy downpour for 10 minutes before my husband, who’d never been known for his patience, finally said, “I’m going to make a dash for the car, then I’ll come pick you up.”

As I stood there, waiting for him to pull up, I heard the man next to me say to his friend, “Look at that idiot driving right through that huge puddle over there!  It’s up over his tires!  He’s going to stall out the car for sure!”

I followed their eyes.  The “idiot” was my husband.

Funny, but the next time I mentioned going to another show at the Bayside Expo, my husband handed me $25 and told me it would be a really nice, relaxing bus ride.

 

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

IT TOOK ME 25 YEARS TO WRITE MY ROMANCE NOVEL



Back in the late 1980s, I decided I was going to write a romance novel. 

Not that I had any clue whatsoever how to write one, but I’d read my fair share of them – you know, those books with a flowing-haired, muscular, bare-chested guy on the cover who’s holding a woman in some back-bending position that probably would send most women rushing to see their chiropractor.

I noticed that the majority of romance novels followed the same plot: boy meets girl, boy and girl hate each other, boy and girl eventually fall in love, boy and girl get separated due to some form of hardship or misunderstanding, and boy and girl finally get back together, have lots of sex and live happily ever after. The books also contain more than their share of “heaving bosoms” and “throbbing manhoods.”

So I figured it would be pretty easy to write a historical romance novel.  After some deep thinking, I came up with what I thought would be a good plot for a historical romance:  in the 1650s, a Pilgrim woman, Rosalind, becomes betrothed to Nathaniel, the handsome son of the town’s wealthy magistrate. She doesn’t love the guy because, basically, he’s an egotistical jerk who thinks women are a lesser species. But Rosalind is desperate to save her family’s home and land, which are about to be taken as payment for her father’s gambling debts – and Nathaniel has promised to pay off those debts…but only if she marries him.

Meanwhile, Rosalind becomes infatuated with a drop-dead gorgeous Native-American guy named Shadow, the son of a sachem. To the Pilgrims, he is nothing but a “savage,” but to Rosalind, he is the man of which x-rated fantasies are made. So, the question is, does she follow her heart and pursue Shadow, revealing how he makes her feel, or does she choose to save her family and marry Nathaniel, even though the mere sight of him makes her so nauseated, she finds herself wishing that Tums or Rolaids had been invented back then?

I also noticed that historical romance novels were thick, hundreds of pages long, so I knew I had a massive task ahead of me. And back then, novels were written on typewriters. There were no home computers or spell-check, no ability to add a paragraph or delete a word unless you used a correction fluid like White-Out.

So I sat down at my typewriter and started typing my story, bringing Rosalind, Nathaniel and Shadow to life. I soon became best friends, via telephone, with Cindy, the woman at the information desk at the Manchester City Library. Homes did not have the luxury of the Internet back then, so if I wanted to know what Pilgrims ate back in 1650, I had to call the library.  If I had lived closer, the library probably would have become my second home, but instead I had to rely on sometimes half-hour phone calls to the library while writing my book.

Finally, after months of work and about $150 worth of White-Out, I managed to create 110-thousand words of what I thought was a romance-novel masterpiece.  The only problem was, I kind of went rogue and didn’t follow the strict romance-novel formula. In my book, Rosalind wasn’t a super-hero who could leap tall buildings in a single bound, like the women in most romance novels. No, Rosalind constantly was frightened, helpless and she cried a lot. And I didn’t have her fall in love by page two. Rosalind waited a while. And Nathaniel wasn’t the typical romance-novel villain who eventually turns good. Nope, Nathaniel was a creep in chapter one, and was even creepier by the final chapter.

I typed up a nice fresh copy of my novel, then packed it up and shipped it off to a publisher who specialized in romance novels.

A few weeks later, she wrote back and said my book was well-written and she really liked my characters. But (heaven forbid!) I hadn’t followed “the formula.” She then listed all of the changes I’d have to make to my plot before it could become romance-novel acceptable.

Muttering to myself, I shoved the manuscript into my desk drawer and didn’t look at it again…until nearly 25 years later when I was cleaning out my old desk, which was down in the basement by then, and happened to find the manuscript stuffed in it.  Only vaguely remembering the plot, I brought the manuscript upstairs, sat down and read it.

“That’s not half-bad!” I said to myself after I’d finished.  Suddenly, I was stricken with a burning desire to rewrite and polish it. I still wasn’t about to change any of my plot, but I wanted to give the book more detail, more authenticity. And besides that, unlike 25 years before, I now had the Internet at my disposal. I could look up any information I needed instead of making poor Cindy at the library run up and down the aisles, searching for descriptions of what Native-American guys’ loincloths looked like back in New England in the 1600s.

The first thing I wanted to do was make certain I was using the correct language for the time period, I mean, I was pretty sure two Pilgrim guys wouldn’t walk up to each other and say, “Hey, dude!  What’s happening?” But I wanted to make certain I wasn’t giving them dialogue that hadn’t even been invented yet. I recalled how, when Kevin Costner used the word “celebrity” in Dances With Wolves, thousands of people wrote to him to complain that back then, the word hadn’t even been invented yet. So I wanted my book to be authentic.

I found a great website called dictionary.com, which not only gave the definitions of words, it also gave their origins – the year in which they first were used.  So anything after 1650 was going to be taboo in my book. I decided, however, to forgo being too authentic, and not use the traditional “thee, thou, or thy,” especially in the passionate parts.

And speaking of the passionate parts, I was sitting on the sofa one evening, my laptop on my knee, doing some research on the Internet. Out of curiosity, I looked up what a certain female body part was called back in the 1600s. I was pretty sure that most of the current slang terms, and even the medical ones, hadn’t been in use back then.

The first answer that popped up was, “moist canal.”  I couldn’t help it, I burst out laughing.

My husband actually tore his eyes away from the TV long enough to ask me what was so funny.

I knew from experience that when my husband was watching TV, he paid no attention to anything else, so no matter what I answered, he probably wouldn’t hear me anyway.

Still, I said, laughing,, “You know what they used to call a woman’s private parts back in the 1600s? The moist canal!  Isn’t that a riot?! You can tell that Pilgrim women never lived to be old enough to reach menopause!”

“That’s nice, dear,” he said, his eyes once again riveted on the TV screen.

The next night, I again was sitting on the sofa and working on my novel.

During a commercial, my husband looked over at me and said, very seriously, “Are you writing about the soggy creek?”

I nearly died laughing. But I had to give him credit for at least half-listening to me for a change.

Then I decided that even though Shadow, the Native American in my book, could speak good English, he might seem more authentic if he spoke some words in his native tongue. So I looked up the language of New Hampshire Native Americans back in the 1600s. All I can say is they must have been very intelligent people to even remember – or be able to pronounce - those words.  I mean, for example, their word for “hair” was ndebkwanal, and “snoring” was chigualakwsowogan.

The thought did cross my mind that if my book ever got published and I had to read excerpts from it at book signings, I wouldn’t be able to pronounce half of what I’d written. Still, I wanted to add authenticity, so I tossed in some Native-American terms.

Another problem I had was writing the lovemaking parts. I struggled, I really struggled with them. Then, seeing no one else was around, I'd read them to my husband and ask how they sounded.

He usually couldn't stop laughing, rolling his eyes or groaning (in a painful, not turned-on way) long enough to give me his opinion.

When the rewrite was finished, I made the decision not to try to find a publisher, especially one who would insist I followed “the formula.” Instead, I decided to self-publish. Unfortunately, that meant I’d have to come up with a cover design.

I knew I wanted Shadow on the cover. I wanted him to be a muscular, long-haired hunk in a loincloth or tight leather breeches, certain to attract female readers.  However, after pricing what it would cost to have a professionally designed cover made, I decided I could afford only one option – to create it myself. I have a background in art. I took lessons at the Currier Gallery, and my mom had a degree in art, and she taught me a lot.  So I figured I should be able to come up with something.

I set to work sketching Shadow – using a photo of some muscular model on the Internet as my guide. I did pretty well on his body, his leather pants, his arm band, and his long, black hair. But I ‘d never been able to draw a decent face…and I discovered I still couldn’t. After trying a dozen times to sketch my vision of Shadow’s super-handsome facial features, all I ended up with was something that made him look as if he’d just been in some horrible, disfiguring accident.

So I decided to decapitate him.

Now, poor Shadow is headless on my book cover. But, if I do say so myself, what’s left of him looks pretty hot.

Then I decided to come up with a pseudonym I could use – something that sounded worthy of a romance novel – something that would save me from becoming irreparably embarrassed in case my third-grade teacher wanted to read something I’d written using my real name.  Arianna, for some reason, popped into my head as sounding “romancy.” And, because I own land in the East, I came up with Eastland. Thus, Arianna Eastland was born.

When I told one of my aunts I’d written a steamy romance novel, her eyebrows rose.

“They say you have to experience everything you write in those novels to make them sound realistic,” she said. “Does that mean you’ve done everything in the steamy parts?”

I laughed. “That’s crazy!  Do you think the woman who wrote 50 Shades of Grey actually did all of that kinky stuff she wrote about?”

“Fifty Shades of what?” my aunt asked.

“Never mind.”

So, if you look down below on this page, you’ll not only see my original romance novel, Too Far to Whisper, you’ll also see the two sequels I’ve written since. And if you have a device like Kindle or Nook, or even want to just read it online on your computer, you can download the original book free of charge by clicking on the link. There’s no catch. It’s really free. But if you want the paperback version, you can find it on Amazon.com.  That one, unfortunately, isn’t free.

And just in case you’re curious…no, I did not use the words “moist canal” (or soggy creek) even once in any of the three books.
 
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Saturday, August 13, 2016

THANK GOODNESS DENTAL PROCEDURES HAVE IMPROVED OVER THE YEARS


 

Last week, I woke up out of a dead sleep with the world’s worst toothache. It felt as if someone had taken a metal spike, heated it to 1,000 degrees and rammed it into my tooth…and then twisted it. The pain shot into my ear and then into my eye. Unfortunately, for my entire life, my mouth always has lived by one specific rule: toothaches, especially really bad ones, must strike only on weekends, when dentists are closed.

So I suffered all weekend, counting the minutes until Monday morning…and eating all of my meals from a blender because it hurt so much to chew. Believe me, chicken and potatoes pureed in a blender weren’t exactly what I’d call gourmet fare. In fact, the end result was a cross between wallpaper paste and pudding…chicken pudding.

Excuse me…I had to pause for a moment there to gag.

Last Monday, as I was lying in the dentist's chair, awaiting the results of  my x-rays, I couldn't help but think back to the days when dentistry was downright barbaric, and I silently thanked my lucky stars I wasn't having my toothache taken care of back in the early 1900s.

I can remember my grandmother telling me stories about her dentist, whose cure for everything was to just yank the tooth. She said he would sit her down, wedge his knee somewhere between her ribs, and then reach into her mouth and yank. If the pain became too unbearable and she cried out, he kept a bottle of something about 80-proof handy to help ease the pain (or to make his patients too "happy" to care about it).

Funny, but back in the 1960s, I regularly went to a dentist who must have trained at the same school as my grandmother's dentist.  Actually, he said he'd learned dentistry in the navy years before, during the war. He never said which war, but considering his techniques, I'm pretty sure it was the Civil War.

For one thing, he kept a bottle of whiskey in a cabinet near the examining chair (he had three dental chairs in his office: one for examinations and cleaning, another for x-rays, and a third one for the actual dental work).  He often showed me the bottle, which was covered with dust, and told me it was the first Novocain ever invented...and the best.

He was a sociable guy, who loved to talk. Unfortunately, he usually spent more time talking than actually working on my teeth.  Even a small filling was guaranteed to take about two hours. He'd pause about 20 times during the procedure to tell his old navy stories, complete with exaggerated hand gestures. The filling probably would have taken only about 10 minutes if he had stopped talking long enough to actually work on it.  And he always worked alone when fixing teeth. Dental assistants, he said, just got in his way (and probably would have quit anyway, after hearing his same old navy stories four or five hundred times).  He did have a secretary/bookkeeper, though.

This dentist had some unusual habits, which, because I didn't know any better, thought were perfectly normal.  For example, after he filled a tooth, he would press his finger on the filling until it set. And while he was pressing it, he would sit there and read the morning newspaper.

He also had a habit of disappearing in the middle of a dental procedure.  He suddenly would set down the drill and say, "Hang on a minute, I'll be right back."  Then, a few minutes later, through the window in front of the chair, which faced the street, I would see him, bundled up in his hat and coat, walking his dog. Sometimes he wouldn't return for a half-hour.  And one time, when my mother was in the chair, the dentist took off with his dog, ended up meeting some old buddies, and forgot all about her.

The incident that still stands out the most in my mind, however, occurred on the day the dentist brought his new puppy to work. He kept the dog in a storage room out back, which contained a blanket, dog food, water, and puppy toys, but still, the dog howled so much, it disturbed not only the patients, but also just about every tenant in the building.

As I sat in the dental chair, waiting for yet another dreaded filling, because my voracious penny-candy addiction back then caused me to sprout a constant crop of fresh cavities, the dentist walked in with the puppy slung underneath his arm. "Here," he said, thrusting the dog at me.  "You like animals, don't you?  Can you hold him and keep him quiet while I work on your teeth?"

Naturally, being a kid, I was thrilled to death, even though now that I think back to that day, I'm sure the Board of Health would have slapped him with every violation known to man, had an inspector popped in and spotted the puppy sitting on my lap and sniffing the spit drain.

Anyway, I sat there happily clutching the puppy and feeling as if maybe the dentist's office wasn't the worst place in the world to be forced to spend a perfectly good summer morning after all, when suddenly the dentist fired up the old drill. The sound of it startled the puppy...and it promptly wet all over my lap.

When I cried out in surprise, the dentist looked down at my wet lap, frowned, and calmly said, "I won't charge you anything for your filling today."

I remember how, when I told my dad about it, he’d laughed and said, “Too bad the dog didn’t poop on you – you might have been able to get free dental work for a year!”

And I'll never forget when, in later years, the dentist first learned a brand new dental procedure called bonding. My mother was one of the first people he tried it on, and he proceeded to bond her two front teeth together.  When she got home, she smiled at me and said, "How do they look?"

"Like you have a big clump of white bread stuck to your front teeth," I said. "Aren't you supposed to have a line separating your teeth?"

My mother rushed to the nearest mirror and gasped.  "My two front teeth have been turned into one giant tooth!  What am I going to do?  I look like a beaver!"

She returned to the dentist's office and he, using a strip of something that looked like heavy-duty sandpaper, tried to "saw" a space between her two front teeth.  My poor mother said that having her toenails ripped off with pliers would have been less painful.

So why did we go to this dentist?  Because he was cheap. In fact, he was so cheap, no other dentist in town could compete with his rates.  And in the days when dental insurance virtually was unheard of, cheap was important. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.  I eventually needed a root canal in just about every tooth he ever filled because he was so "drill happy," he drilled right into the pulp of every one of them.

A few years ago, I was telling my current dentist about my old dentist and his antics.  He listened, smiling politely and nodding, then finally shook his head and said, "You don't really expect me to believe any of this, do you?"

"She's telling the truth," his secretary, who, unbeknownst to us, had been listening to every word, cut in. "I don't usually admit this, but back when I was in high school, I worked for the guy she's talking about.  She's not exaggerating at all. In fact, I could tell you a few stories about him that would beat hers by a mile."

So now, years later, as I’m sitting here still feeling the effects of  my most recent toothache and all of the pain – and money – it ended up costing me, I'm thinking that maybe a  couple swigs of whiskey, a knee in my stomach, and a swift, forceful yank on that tooth really might not have been so barbaric after all.

 
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Saturday, August 6, 2016

TIME TO TAKE OUT THE BANANAS AND VINEGAR!


 

I’ve been watching old reruns of a show called, “How Clean is your House?” on the British TV channel lately, and all I can say is if the viewers’ stomachs are strong enough to make it through endless close-ups of grease, grime, cat hair, mold, maggots and dirt, they just might end up with some great cleaning tips.

Kim and Aggie, the stars of the show, who usually are dressed in high-heels, pearls and skirts, look as if they’re heading to a wedding rather than to one of the many trash-filled pits they transform into sparkling, fresh-smelling homes.

“Ooooh!  This place smells like feet!” Aggie will say as she enters the house.

“And what’s this stuck on the wall here?” Kim will add, poking her finger into whatever it is and then sniffing it. “Eeeeuuww!  It’s moldy bacon grease!”

Even if I were wearing a Hazmat suit, I wouldn’t set foot in any of those houses.

The good thing about Aggie and Kim is they believe in using only all-natural products for their cleaning projects.

For example, they use the inside of a banana peel to wipe down the dusty leaves on potted plants.  According to them, the banana oil in the peel gives a nice shine to the leaves and also provides the plant with nutrients.

In one house they visited on the show, the guy’s bathtub was so scummy, they had to guess what the tub’s original color was.

Again, Kim thrust her finger into the tub and ran it across the bottom, then sniffed her finger. “Dear Lord, it smells like someone’s buttocks!” she declared.

This definitely is not a show you’d want to watch while eating lunch.

“I have a solution for that!” Aggie immediately said. “I’ll cut a grapefruit in half and sprinkle some salt on it, then scrub the tub with it!  The salt will act as an abrasive and rub off the dirt and soap scum, while the grapefruit will give the tub a fresh, citrus smell and a nice shine.”

Within seconds, a sparkling white tub emerged.  The shine was so bright, the women nearly needed sunglasses.  I was impressed.  My tub hadn’t looked that good since it was still on the showroom floor back at the plumbing-supply store.

So I rushed to the grocery store and bought a grapefruit, then came home, sprinkled salt on it and tried it out on my tub.  I had to use a little more elbow grease than with my regular cleaner, but it worked.  Then I spent the next 20 minutes picking grapefruit seeds out of all the little air holes in the rubber bath-mat in the tub.

Unfortunately, the next time I took a bath, I sat on a couple of those seeds I’d missed. Not fun when you’re naked.

Kim and Aggie are also huge fans of white vinegar.  They use it to shine faucets and chrome. They use it on windows and mirrors and then wipe it off with newspaper.

“The ink in the newspaper adds to the shine on the glass,” they claimed.

On one show, they also used vinegar as a powerful drain cleaner. They first dumped half a glass of baking soda down the kitchen drain, followed by half a glass of vinegar. They then stood and watched it bubble up like a miniature geiser.  “Your drains will be fresh and clean after this!” they said.

Watching their show made me return to the store to buy a jug of vinegar. The one I ended up buying was the jumbo economy size, because I wanted to make sure I had enough for lots of projects. I nearly needed a forklift to get it into my shopping cart.  Being the sudden owner of so much vinegar made me wonder what else, other than making dressing for the world’s largest tossed salad or canning 150,000 pickles, I might be able to do with it.

So I did a computer search and found one particular use that really intrigued me.  The website said if you are concerned about using harsh chemical hair-dyes and want an all-natural alternative for brown and brunette shades, to mix one-half cup of vinegar with one-quarter cup of soy sauce, then pour the mixture over freshly washed hair, let it set for 20 minutes and wash it out. The result?  Shiny, chestnut-tinted hair with no more gray.

That sounded like a good (and cheap) alternative to expensive hair dyes, so I rushed back to the store to buy a bottle of soy sauce.

About a week ago, I decided to try the concoction.  I washed and towel-dried my hair, then poured  the soy sauce and vinegar mixture all over my head. It smelled pretty bad.  And it was drippy.  It dripped down my neck, into my ears and into my eyes. And when I walked out to the living room to sit down and wait the 20 minutes, it left a trail of drips across the floor.

The minute I sat on the sofa, my dogs came over to sniff me.  Then they stared hungrily at me as if I were a giant piece of beef teriyaki.  I was getting nervous.

When I finally washed out the stuff, I didn’t notice any chestnut color at all in my hair.  In fact, I looked as if I’d sprouted a few more gray hairs.  And my scalp felt as if someone had taken a blowtorch to it.  But the worst part was I still smelled like soy sauce and vinegar, even after shampooing my hair.

The next day, I was in the checkout line in the supermarket and a woman directly behind me sniffed the air and said to her friend, “Mmm!  I smell sweet-and-sour chicken! Are they selling Chinese takeout food here now?”

I definitely need to spend less time watching TV.

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https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384106