The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

If You’re Good, We’ll Get a Treat at Goudies

When I was a girl, about once a month Mom would make a trip downtown to shop. Usually only I went along, sometimes all three of us kids were in tow. Her shopping list more often than not included shoes for me or one of my two brothers. She complained frequently how quickly we outgrew our wardrobe. Mom sewed most of our clothing, so we stopped by the fabric store, too.

Lamson_pneumatic_tube_system_NMAH_OM

Magic Happens Here – click on through for an historical account of the machinery.

Memories from those times include the fascinating pneumatic cash tube. THHHWIP and the brass cylinder was sucked into a void… and moments later THHHWUNK it magically reappeared with the change. The stairways smelled of linoleum and wood polish and echoed our footsteps. In some stores we rode the elevators attended by men and women in uniform. Gates and barriers clattered open and closed as we made our way from floor to floor.

Mom had no choice but to take us with her. We were well-behaved most of the time, but rarely were we able to get through a shopping visit without a squirm or squabble. She tried to make these trips as enjoyable as she could. In other words, she bribed us into behaving.

“If you’re good, we’ll get a treat at Goudies.”

goudies

She must have been exhausted at the end of an afternoon. Even though we may not have earned it, we always wound up at the soda counter, enjoying a float or ice-cream sundae.

mmmmotivation

A few shopping trips stand out for unpleasant reasons. My first bra, for example, was purchased with the help of a jolly store clerk. Three of us behind the curtain, two of us all business-like while shortening straps and poking the padding. The third of the party got over it, eventually.

Another time, when I was in my early teens, I resented that I had to accompany mom when I would have rather been home reading. She was remarkably cheerful that day. Perhaps it was her way of deflecting her daughter’s sour mood.

Finally! It was time to catch the bus home. We stood outside at the stop. One or two other people were waiting with us.

Then it happened. You think trying on a bra with a complete stranger in a tiny dressing room is bad. Well! You have no idea what it’s like for your mom to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger! I wanted to die.

My reaction was typical, I think, of adolescent self-consciousness. I outgrew it, like I outgrew nail-biting and pinching money from mom’s purse. As for striking up conversations with complete strangers, these days I generally wait for the other to make the first move. Especially at social gatherings where small talk and storytelling are required. I am a good listener. Sometimes, though I desire that someone listen to me.

Today I read this post.

The author talks about the importance of acknowledging another’s existence, especially since many of us live solitary lives.

Connecting to people sometimes takes time. They need to feel trust and they need to feel safe. They don’t want to be judged. Most importantly? They want to feel listened to.

Ah yes, there it is! That’s what I look for in friendship: to feel that I am heard. When I talk with someone, I look for reciprocation, for an exchange of thoughts that build one upon the other.

I think Mom craved exactly that sort of connection. Living with Dad kept her isolated. Outside of work and home, she had no social contact. Saturdays downtown were the few times that she had the chance to connect with someone new.

On a few occasions when I was in a “bus stop” situation, I surprised myself by initiating a conversation. It was always pleasant and I have never regretted being the first to speak. Those times, I was influenced by Mother’s nature.

My preference for solitude, thanks to the “nurturing” of my father, however, wins the day. For me, it is difficult to make new friends. I have learned to be OK with that.

Inspired by the Daily Prompt and My Atheist Blog

 

 

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Categories: Daily Post, Mom and Dad, Personal Growth

Tags: , , , ,

26 replies

  1. Funny and sweet and sad and reflective: perfect combination, Maggie. The agonies of adolescence come across brilliantly! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maggie – so many similar memories in this post. I was scared of that pneumatic tube – horrors of being sucked in. And, of course, the fabric department each summer for patterns and material for fall school clothes. We didn’t ride the bus, but I, too, prefer mostly solitude with occasional brief encounters. I enjoyed this memory very much.

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    • Thanks, Sammy! I’m pleased to hear that you enjoyed it. While I was searching for images of the cash tubes, I learned that the iconic department store Kingsmills in London Ontario closed just last year. They still used the cash tube system AND had an elevator attendant last time I visited.

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  3. Well, I can understand why, Maggie: it’s because you have no sense of humour. And also because you place no value on your childhood – I mean, you don’t remember ANYTHING ! As well, you never quote other people.
    No wonder you find it difficult to strike up new friendships ..
    Y O U A R E A N I D I O T !!!! You’re built up a huge following in no time at all, and people talk about you to each other – as in “Did you read what Maggie Wilson said ..” etc.
    If all that don’t add up to a genuinely friendly person, I dunno WOT does !
    😎

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  4. Wonderful reminiscence, Maggie. Takes me back. I, too am an introvert. Talking to new people is very difficult for me. But I’ve had to learn how, working in a corporate environment. There’s a persona you create that makes it possible. That’s why so many introverts are actors – you can put yourself out there and never reveal yourself. I’m much better expressing myself in writing. That’s why I blog, and I’m just beginning to understand the dedication of the blogging community to each other. It’s very comforting to know such support is out there, even if it is virtual. Thanks for your insights.

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    • Hello AR! Thanks for your lovely long note. Ooooh, corporate – that’s one of those four letter words for me. That and Bell. ick. Been there, hope to never have to do it again. But if I do, I think I have some resources now, practical and virtual, as you say, to get me through.

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  5. Awesome post Maggie! Solitude is my best friend. I find peace and Serenity when alone and my mind and body require it.

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  6. Maggie,

    I hope one day you decide to collect all your reflections about your life into a book. As alienorajt says, “Funny and sweet and sad and reflective: perfect combination”. You really do have a unique approach that manages to combine all those attributes in a way that feels natural. And yes, bra shopping with your mother is mortifying, especially if involves a third party! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    -Jessica

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Jessica! Glad to see you back. Your words of encouragement are GREATLY appreciated. I’m very glad to know that the work is “natural” sounding. As to whether there is a book in the making… I’m dancing around the idea. I’m afraid that if I pounce and latch onto it, I may wreck something. For now, I’ll whisper…. yes, I think so.

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  8. UGH! I cannot believe it. I had my comment in mind – – it was going to be original….and more than that, it’s been something I have been wanting to say to you for a while, since I read your first recollection of your family dinner. And then, scrolling down the comments, it was still a unique thought until Jessica’s! She said it exactly. (but she and I often think alike!) This is part of a Memoir, Maggie! You’ve got to write it. These type of visceral posts are just begging to be a book! And for the record – I can think of nothing worse than trying on a bra with a stranger in the dressing room. Horrors!

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  9. The trip downtown engaged every one of my senses…

    I don’t personally initiate conversations with strangers unless I feel an unusual connection.

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  10. I’d had loved to met you mom at the bus stop. I’m one of of those gregarious people who assumes people like me unless they glare and look away or say “stop talking. I don’t like you.” That actually happened once. It struck me as funny.

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Trackbacks

  1. Daily Prompt: Why Can’t We Be Friends | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  2. Prompting a Train of Thought | The Zombies Ate My Brains

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