“Mom, don’t you have enough Green Stamps by now?” I sat at the kitchen table with stamps of different sizes and values, booklets to paste them in, a dish of water, paper towels, and a Green Stamps catalog filled with models who looked at the housewares and home décor and cigarette lighters with a little too much satisfaction.
“I need some new tea glasses, Angie Lynn,” Mom said, turning catalog pages to a photo of a smiling woman holding a set of Tiffany Foliage glassware (with foldaway caddy).
“But Mom,” I turned the catalog to the toys section and pointed out my latest obsessions, “I really need this double holster set and some super darts, too.”
“Child, you do not need more toys.” Mom turned to the page titled Beauty of the Bath. “I’ll tell you what I really need is a new commode cover. Look at this.” An entire bathroom was accessorized in the same color my brother produced when he threw up Pepto-Bismol.
“Maybe I could even get a matching rug,” Mom said. I pretended to gag and die, but my performance did not impress her. “I earned plenty of stamps when I bought groceries, but you have to fill those books so we can shop at the Green Stamps store. What is taking you so long?”
“She sniffs the glue!” my brother announced while his favorite TV show, M*A*S*H, was on a commercial break.
“I do not!” I shot back, although he had caught me more than once.
“Then she sticks the stamps to her fingers to make them turn greener,” he added. “She is so weird.”
“Shut up!” I hollered.
“Mind your manners, son, or the TV goes off,” my father warned him. He didn’t mention that he had complained about Mom carpeting the commode lid.
I didn’t want Mom to know how much I loved gluing Green Stamps because it was one of my regular chores. I always took the option to cover a page in individual rows instead of pasting one large stamp. I was fascinated by how much more my fingers shriveled with each new book of stamps. Mom may have set her sights on a commode cover, but if we could redeem Green Stamps for something as cool as a spaceship I would have pasted them until we blasted into orbit.
When Mom finally drove us to the Green Stamps store I made a beeline for the toys, but a display of hair dryers brought me to a halt. A model on a poster wore an inflated bonnet ringed with air holes so the heat from the Lady Sunbeam Flair didn’t cause her brain to blow. A clear hose snaked over her shoulder and connected to a hard-plastic carry case. The model smiled like she had secret knowledge, but it was clear the Lady Sunbeam could dry her ‘doo anywhere an outlet was available. It was the next best thing to being on a space ship. Mom could look like an astronaut.
“Never mind the super darts, Mom!” I blurted, as I imagined the heated bonnet rising on her head like it was coming to life. “You have to get this!”
“Well I really could use it,” Mom admitted, “but it will take every book of stamps I have.”
“You deserve it, Mom,” I said in a voice only she would believe. “You could dry your hair at home and make it just as tall as the hair dresser does for church on Sunday.”
“Well, sugar,” Mom smiled as bright as a Lady Sunbeam, “I guess I’ll give it a try.”
The first time the hair-dryer hose filled with heat and boosted the bonnet right over Mom’s rollers, I sat beside her transfixed yet deafened.
The Mercury astronauts had shiny silver suits, but their helmets covered mere buzz cuts and flat tops. If they had enough Green Stamps for the Lady Sunbeam, their hair might have turned out as awesome as my Mom’s.
Angie Vicars writes humorous essays and seriously good Web content for UT. In a former incarnation, she authored "My Barbie Was an Amputee," Yikes columns for Metro Pulse, and produced the WATE website.
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