Gowns and Assholes

So, turning fifty offers lots of perks. I went on a few amazing girls’ trips; my period is debuting less and less; I was thrown a surprise party, where a stripper had me straddle his face in front of the guests; and, just last week, I had my first ever colonoscopy. At least I can say, that was something that was actually supposed to go up my ass. The prep for that procedure is like sitting in a center seat at a really bad Broadway show. It’s like torture, and there’s just no way out of it. I remember drinking that super sweet glucose during all three of my pregnancies. While it wasn’t fun, it was like a vacation compared to the amount of shit I had to drink for this. 

I now needed my own diaper bag with medicated wipes and adult A+D ointment.

I had to stop eating solid food after a “light” breakfast and have only clear liquids after that. Chicken bullion was like my filet mignon. At 6:00 pm, the real party started when I began drinking a large pitcher of fake Kool-Aid with a ten-minute break in between each full glass. This was the beginning of the process to dust bust the shit out of my colon (pun intended). “Stay close to a bathroom,” the instructions said. What they didn’t say, though, was how much you’d be using your gluteus maximus and sphincter muscles to create a steel blockade while walking briskly—with the straightest posture your body will allow—to the toilet. It was almost like I was a contestant in one of those egg-and-spoon races. And, this went on ALL. NIGHT. LONG. Thank you, Lionel Richie.

The next morning, I had to drink another bottle of some syrupy concoction and then force lots of glasses of water into what used to be my body. I was like a blow-up raft at this point. And, of course more toilet trips followed. I now needed my own diaper bag with medicated wipes and adult A+D ointment. The worst part was that I didn’t have an appointment first thing in the morning like most sane people do. I had a 1:00 pm appointment. I was now living the three S’s: starving, shitting and sleepy. I called an Uber to drive me to the medical building, and the driver had to have been a three-pack-a-dayer. Now I was up to five S’s with the addition of stale smoke. How blessed I was. 

I’ll fast forward to me in the gown with the opening in the back. “Is there a possibility you could be pregnant?” asked my nurse. “Yeah, I guess,” I said, “but I’m 50.” “Well, do you want a pregnancy test?” she asked. “No, I don’t, because I wouldn’t keep it anyway,” said the Democrat in me. (Fuck you, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and you other back-ass states.) The light-hearted banter between my nurse and me ended right then and there, as she was now quiet. She walked me over to my pre-op bed and put in my IV, and I waited and listened to a post-op woman fart very loudly from behind her curtain. The staff acted like they couldn’t hear anything. If I hadn’t offended my nurse, I would have joked about whoopee cushions or tubas. I thought, “Please don’t let that be me afterwards.”

Once in the O.R, I was told to lie on my side and felt the drugs rush into my vein. What seemed like ten seconds later, I heard my name called and was back in the same surgery partition. My prayers were answered, as my body was as quiet as I had rendered my nurse. They gave me apple juice, but where were the post-surgery Lorna Doones? Wtf, I was looking forward to those. I got dressed and met Ray in the waiting room. I’d like to say I ate lightly once I got home, but, nope, I ordered a big turkey sandwich. I’d also like to say that I didn’t have to go to the bathroom anymore. Sorry, that didn’t stop until well after midnight. Ouch. I did receive a phone call from my doctor the next day, and she told my that I was polyp-free and had a healthy colon. That meant I didn’t have to do this again for another ten years. After my relief, my only thought was, “I’ll be sixty then. Holy shit.” (Pun intended again.) 

I defecate (I mean dedicate) this blog to all of the organizations working to fight for reproductive justice. There are too many to name. I will be increasing my donations to support them. And, to continue the anal theme, I don’t hesitate when I say that these people working to take away women’s rights are complete assholes. 

*All names have been changed. 

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Posted in aging, confessions, day-to-day, health, medical, political | Leave a comment

A Second Chance

My mother is head over heels in love! I really can’t believe it. She’s a 77-year-old widow, who never thought she’d find fulfillment in comparison to the memory of my father. Her constant gushing about her new love is proof she was dead wrong. I have become a master at nodding my head and pretending I haven’t heard the same stories she keeps repeating. Am I jealous or upset that she’s directed this tremendous affection away from my dad? Nope, not one bit, and I’ll tell you why: It just so happens that she’s in love with an inanimate object—yes, she’s in love with the state of Florida. Holy shit, has she turned 100% Florida. Her blood type went from O-positive to Tropicana, and flea market bargains have replaced Bloomingdale’s private sales. Sorry, Jerry, but Del Boca Vista’s got nothing on my mother’s gated, golf community. Apparently it has the best sliced nova and omelette station this side of the Mississippi. It must be true, since she and all her friends agree that “even the fancier communities don’t have food as good as ours!” 

I wanted to tell her that I bet Amy Schumer’s last Netflix special was funnier, because something tells me that old Jewish guy doesn’t tell too many pussy jokes.

After her recent stay with me in New Jersey for a week, I am armed with useless tidbits of information that may never help me win on Jeopardy but can help me understand her deep devotion to her adopted home state. I didn’t receive a trophy for Most Improved Golfer, did you? Oh, but I was birthed by the woman who did receive it at the closing luncheon. And, I never went to an invitation-only canasta day at a club, but I bet you can guess who goes to many. And, how about those Catskills comedians who perform at country club dinners? “I have never laughed so hard. We were just splitting our sides.” I wanted to tell her that I bet Amy Schumer’s last Netflix special was funnier, because something tells me that old Jewish guy doesn’t tell too many pussy jokes.

Nobody has better friends than she does, too. If I close my eyes, it’s as if my fifteen-year-old daughter is telling me about her clique. “The girls and I couldn’t believe how reasonable the subscription for our theatre program was.” “I didn’t get invited to Lobster night. It’s hard to be a widow here.” “Marsha is my best friend. She does everything for me. Her kids don’t visit her much. It’s terrible.” I’m actually really happy that she has very close friendships in spite of the frivolous banter that goes along with it. I’m even happier that she has a golf cart with cute awnings and her name emblazoned on the side. It brings back good memories of me driving my nana’s cart before I had my license—and before the days when club members got suspended from the card room if their grandkids broke club rules. “Barbara has some nerve letting her grandson drive her cart on the streets,” my mom said. I guess it’s okay that her own grandson smoked pot on her lawn, though, since she didn’t know about it. 

During her visit, my mother asked me what month it was. I knew better than to react; I just let her keep talking. She laughed as she said, “When you live in Florida, you don’ t know what day it is. It’s just like being on vacation living there.” She followed it up with more laughing. Only minutes before that, she was in my kitchen in one of her flea market house dresses reaching for the Puffed Rice cereal she asked me to buy her. The supermarket worker literally had to ask other workers where it was, because no one had ever heard of it. Just so you know, it comes in a bag, not a box. Perhaps that’s why I wandered up and down that aisle for a solid twenty minutes. When she left the kitchen to go get dressed, I noticed a sectioned pill container the size of a small accordion folder. I didn’t panic, because I remembered it was a full-week’s worth. 

I’m glad to know that my mom is deeply in love, and I’m grateful to know that she has no need for marriage. It saves the headaches of prenups and a destination wedding at her section pool’s clubhouse. Thankfully my sister and I can sidestep the horror of being middle-aged bridesmaids forced to wear tent-like dresses from Eileen Fisher. Plus the grandkids can still share her bed when they visit. I do wish that someone would buy her dinner and take her away on vacations, though. Oh, wait, how silly of me—she doesn’t need to go on vacations, because she just told me that her life in Florida is a vacation. As for sex, I guess it’s hard to copulate with the Sunshine State. Thank goodness for that, because I would never want to have to say this to my kids: “Come change your uncle’s diaper!”

I dedicate this blog to my dad. You set the bar high. No man could ever measure up to the husband, father and quality human being you were. We all miss your humor, affection and loving energy that filled a room. We missed you at the seder last week. We even miss you when we are doing nothing but driving around in our cars. Love you, Dad. 

*All names have been changed. 

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Posted in aging, community, day-to-day, family, friendship, idiosyncracies, love | 4 Comments

What do you mean you don’t Venmo?

I get it that my mom, who’s in her 70s, doesn’t know how to copy and paste a simple line of text and probably doesn’t even realize there’s a private message feature on FaceBook. What I don’t get, though, is how all Generation Xers—my contemporaries—don’t use Venmo. Are you kidding me??? This app is the best thing that ever happened to me since meeting Ray. It’s like, “Wait, you’re telling me that when I owe people money, I can instantaneously pay them back and don’t have to go through the steps of remembering to write a check, addressing an envelope, wasting a stamp and driving to a mailbox?” That’s dreamlike—with the time I save, I could buy a lot more useless shit on Amazon. Wow. 

As an inherently lazy person, who has her dry cleaning picked up and delivered and controls her thermostats from bed, these risks would never deter me from using this miracle app.

So, why don’t some of my friends take advantage of this utopian app? I did some very in-depth and professional research to find out why. Translation: I accosted them by text. This made me realize why I chose opinion writing over hard-nosed journalism as I read the response of Friend 1: “I like cash, checks and credit cards. Not Venmo. There’s no other reason. I don’t ‘wanna Venmo. I won’t be bullied into it, and I’m not using it. There’s no answer other than that. I just don’t want it!” Slam went that bulletproof door, so I moved on and texted Friend 2. She explained that her family has had identity theft issues, so they wanted to limit their online exposure. She then added, “I’ve since given in, and I use Venmo but only when necessary. I had to for group stuff—gifts and shiva. I couldn’t be the odd man out anymore.” Friend 3 also threw her e-hat in the ring despite worrying about the security of her bank account. If it was good enough for her financially-savvy friends, it was good enough for her. 

Friend 4 doesn’t have her own Venmo account but doesn’t let that stop her. “Oh, how much were the tickets? I’ll have my husband Venmo you.” That’s what I call a Friendmo account, where someone else does the Venmoing for you. She told me that she can’t have her own account, because only one Venmo account can be linked to a particular bank account. Friend 4 didn’t really want to hear from me that she could still have her own account and simply not link it to a bank account. It would be like a virtual jar where you add and send money directly to and from that jar. “YES, BUT WE DON’T WANT TO DO IT THAT WAY!” Did she just tell me to fuck off? Yes, she did. 

The fifth and final friend I asked is one tough motherfucker, who ignores the constant urging of friends to “just use Venmo already!” She admits it’s probably an irrational fear of someone being able to access her money and even allows her kids to link it to their bank accounts. She pays bills and shops online using credit cards, so I asked, “What makes you think someone won’t hack your credit card?” She said, “They can, and I can cancel it—they still won’ have access to my whole bank account.” Okay, I couldn’t argue with that rationale. But, her last reason of not wanting people to be able to see who she paid was unfounded. You can choose to have a private feed, and, even if the other Venmo user has a public setting, the transaction will be cloaked. And thank god for that, because I don’t need anyone seeing I pay my boyfriend for sex. 

So, is there truth to these paranoias, or is it safe? A little research will tell you that even though Venmo uses data encryption and offers users a PIN code option, it is not a foolproof system. A thief can take up to $2,999.00, because that’s the maximum balance allowed. To protect yourself best, you’re supposed to keep small amounts in your account, only interact with people you know and keep your account private. As an inherently lazy person, who has her dry cleaning picked up and delivered and controls her thermostats from bed, these risks would never deter me from using this miracle app.

Possibly the best benefit of Venmo, though, is sidestepping the awful exercise of hunting down those friends who always seem to “forget” to pay you back. I used to avoid heading up group gifts, because I didn’t like shaking people down even when writing those sweet-sounding group emails: “This is a gentle reminder that I have not yet received your check for Betty’s 40th group gift. She’s now 47. Thank you.” You can check your history on Venmo, too. When a friend says, “I paid you for that already,” you can say, “No, you haven’t, you lying, cheap bitch.” Oh, and, how could I forget that, if you have a college kid, you need Venmo as much as you need Xanax? “Mom, I need money in my account. I can’t eat.” Knowing he blew his money on weed, I smirk as I transfer the money anyway and type “act of mercy” in the Venmo reason line. 

I bet you didn’t know that you can Venmo people who don’t even have it. I was the asshole who did that to my sister-in-law. When you click on the icon to pay someone, all of your contacts’ emails come up, and Venmo allows you to send money to a person without an account. I assume it starts one of those virtual jars I mentioned above. My sister-in-law is now a faithful Venmo user and has me to thank…I think.

It’s clear that I have a bit of contempt for people who resist Venmo. I will work on being an accepting and loving person with this mantra: “They are good people; They don’t mean to inconvenience anyone; I will respect their right to choose.” Oh, please, I can’t even say this crap. Just get fucking Venmo already!

I dedicate this blog to the Venmo users in my life. Thank you for saving me paper, ink, stamps, gas and time. Thank you for paying me promptly. And, thank you for participating in the 21st century. 

*All names have been changed. 

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Posted in day-to-day, errands, idiosyncracies, improvement, Judgment, pet peeves, social media, trends | 3 Comments

Greener Pastures

“Why would you wear those pants? They showcase your muffin top.” That’s called fat-shaming. “Why do your legs spread as easily as cream cheese on a bagel?” That’s called slut-shaming, In my day, it was just called being a nasty bitch. Now, it happens all over social media. I thank some higher power that this little shaming trend came into existence well past 1990, the year of my college graduation. I’ve managed to avoid being fat- or slut-shamed as far as I know, but, last summer, I was straw-shamed. I have to say it did leave me with a little sting, which is why I’m writing about it today. 

I’m not not ready to get completely fucking California yet—I cannot live without paper towels or Ziploc bags.

I now keep a metal straw in both my glove compartment and pocketbook, but here’s how it went down last July when I poured my two guests drinks and offered them plastic cocktail straws/stirrers. Right away, my one friend said, “I don’t use straws.” I was smart enough to know it was an environment-friendly stance and not a problem with her lips. I remember feeling embarrassed and extremely non-green. I wanted to shout out, “Wait, I hate Trump, and I’m a staunch recycler! I only use paper plates on a rare night of too much company!” Instead, I defended myself by saying, “Well, I have tons of these little straws. I may as well use them, because they can be thrown out now all together or little by little over time.” She just kind of nodded but definitely didn’t reach for a straw. I can’t remember if my other friend used one or not, but I’m guessing after that awkward exchange, she put her mouth directly on her glass. 

You might be thinking that my friend didn’t really shame me, and I was just being sensitive. It was my reaction to feel embarrassed. It was her choice of words that made me cringe, though. Had she simply said, “No thanks,” I would never have given it a second thought. But, I heard “I don’t use straws,” as, “Why do you use straws?” Maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing, because, guess what? I did ask myself why I used them. A quick Google search told me that plastic straws take about 500 years to decompose. That means every one you’ve ever used is sitting in a landfill somewhere. Loads of littered straws end up in the ocean, where fish and animals can’t digest them. I’m not a tree-hugger or an animal-lover by any means, but I do have a conscience and a heart.

Like I mentioned, I recently began keeping metal straws with me, but it’s not so common in the NJ suburbs yet. I can just hear the jabs from my Chanel-bag-carrying friends. “Oh, look at Miss Dreadlocks and her silver straws!” My “shamer” friend—who is a very nice person by the way—lives in Brooklyn, where people are more environmentally conscious. I have cousins in Berkeley, CA, who carry reusable straws and nylon grocery bags in their pocketbooks. They use cloth napkins, too. My part of NJ apparently hasn’t gotten this memo yet. Trader Joe’s is the one grocery store near me who gives out paper bags only. My big three markets—Shop Rite, Kings and even Whole Foods—still use plastic bags. That would be a practice worse than human sacrifice in Berkeley. Our close neighbor, New York, just passed a statewide ban on most types of single-use plastic bags that will start next March. These greener, cultural norms will slowly make their way to NJ no doubt, but the message is being sent via the Pony Express.

While I do have my own reusable grocery bags, I’m not not ready to get completely fucking California yet—I cannot live without paper towels or Ziploc bags. Those are like plasma and oxygen to me. I hear that in some places, cloth diapers are making a strong comeback, since disposable diapers really do a number on the environment. I offer a sincere thank you here to my three children for being fully potty-trained. So, back to my plethora of cocktail straws: Do I toss them or use them gradually, since they will all be going to a landfill eventually? I’m ‘gonna go with tossing them now. If my cute, metal straws inspire someone else, then that’s a good thing. Plus, I don’t want to be stung ever again by anyone in a “There is no Planet B” t-shirt.

I dedicate this blog to Elpheba, the coolest green person out there. I also dedicate it to my friend, who did me a favor and spurred me into action without even knowing she did.  Thank you to all the others, who truly care about reducing our carbon footprint, too. Hear this, though: I will never stop shaving my pits or reuse tampons. 

p.s. Guilt alert. I just ordered reusable storage bags to replace my Ziploc habit. Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LX4FXMM/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

*All names have been changed. 

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TO EAT IS HUMAN; TO BE THIN, DIVINE.

If Oprah is doing it, then so am I. About every three years, I give Weight Watchers a try. It’s usually at the point where the one pair of jeans that don’t constrict my abdominal region have absolutely no more stretch left in them. I last a few weeks until I’m at a party and find myself with a tequila in my hand and some pigs-in-blankets traveling down my throat. This then kicks off a high speed train ride back to gluttony. I always seem to have a first-class ticket. Shit. Yet I still hang on to the hope that WW (as it’s now called) will reel me back in somehow. That’s why I tend to show up at meetings even after a night of pasta—that I definitely did not calculate in the WW point system. Hearing a woman confess about how she housed an entire sleeve of Thin Mints makes me feel normal. I don’t know any of these people. We are all different sizes, shapes, colors and ages. But, we all have one thing in common—we love to put things in our mouths that are bad for us, and I’m not talking about blowjobs here. We try; we fail; we try again. That’s why I continue to cycle through my triennial relationship with WW.

Hearing a woman confess about how she housed an entire sleeve of Thin Mints makes me feel normal.

My last meeting leader, Sally, was my favorite. She streaked her hair purple, fuchsia or turquoise each week, and she had slightly hidden tattoos. Her wit and humor makes this group-therapy-like setting fun. Once at a meeting, a woman said her “thing” was CHEEZ-ITs; she said she could sit down and eat a half of a box. Right away, Sally cut in and said something like, “Wait, you mean you don’t eat the whole box? Then, that is definitely not your thing! If it was, that box would be gone. I know that, because CHEEZ-ITs are my thing, too. That’s why they cannot enter my home. Ever.” I show up for Sally but also for the regulars. Sometimes I want to call out “NORM” when Kitty enters. She’s in her 70s and talks without shame about her food struggles. I fell in love with this woman the day she told us that she was placed directly in front of the sweet potato pie at Thanksgiving, and her arm and fork just kept reaching back in for more. That’s why I was so happy the day she sat down next to me at a manicure. I said, “You’re Kitty, right? I’m at your WW meetings, but I don’t talk much.” Well, in only 15 minutes, I knew how much weight she had put on; the marriage status of her three children; and the stops on her upcoming two-week cruise.

At times, the honesty in that room is almost too much to bear. Women have started crying while talking about their fucked-up relationships with food. It’s a good thing I’m rows away, because it’d be really creepy if I reached out to stroke the hand of a complete stranger. One woman once confessed that her own father tries to sabotage her dieting. Another broke down as she spoke of having to take care of a very sick relative, which made her regain her weight. The saddest moment was when a woman said she was there, because having to ask for a seat belt extender on a plane was the lowest point of her life. It’s this room that makes people feel safe, because if you’re there to lose over 100 pounds or just ten, people get it. And, it’s a real bang for your buck when you compare the 12 or so dollars a week to the $200 for private therapy. Plus, you don’t have to dig all they way back to how your mother never hung up your school projects on the fridge.

Then there are the people who make me smile, like Kitty. Two of my other favorites are the older women with white hair who sit in the back and “whisper” comments to each other. I swear they are those two old muppet men in the audience of “The Muppet Show.” I overheard one of them say she wished she could use the WW app (which is as important to this diet as having gas in a car). I leaned over and asked why she couldn’t. She said it was because of her phone. I expected to see a flip phone, but, no, she had a smartphone. I told her I could help her, or she should ask the woman at the desk. I’m pretty sure she still doesn’t know what she’s doing. My own 83-year-old aunt is convinced she doesn’t have a texting icon on her brand new Samsung Galaxy, even though my sister and I have separately given her idiot-proof, step-by-step instructions—at least ten times.

I get more out of these meetings than just feeling like a fellow failure in a sea of yo-yo dieters. Who knew Hebrew National made a hot dog that is only one point? And, who knew there was something called Half Naked Popcorn that you could eat a lot of and still keep it legal? I also know how one woman pre-tracked her meals to navigate the exorbitant amount of food on her vacation to Mexico without tipping her scale. I even learned how one of the regulars made it through her nephew’s bar mitzvah without starving herself like she used to do. Victories, not only failures, abound at these meetings. I just sit there quietly hoping that something will click in me, too. If those muppets can do it, then why can’t I, damn it?

I dedicate this blog to that 83-year-old aunt I mentioned. She has always struggled with her weight and is probably the thinnest she has ever been in her life, having stuck to a diet for a long time. I wonder why, at 83, she doesn’t just say, “Fuck it,” but I haven’t said that to her. I never aspired to be a saboteur, only a thin person.

*All names have been changed.

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Posted in community, confessions, day-to-day, dieting, health, improvement | Leave a comment

Confessions of a Weirdo

Who the fuck eats the green Mike and Ikes? Or the green lifesavers? Why do they even make that flavor? Or, is the question really: Who still eats this tooth-rotting shit? This is where my hand shoots up from the back of the class, and you all look at me in either disgust or admiration for admitting a gross habit. Unfortunately for my thighs and ass, I do love candy, just not the green ones. I like all the candies that make you say, “Is that even food?” I love Now & Laters; Bottle Caps; Spree; Bullseyes (caramel creams); and Circus Peanuts (orange, peanut-shaped, marshmallow-like). I think in the meats department, that’s akin to liking Spam. My parents ate Peanut M&Ms, Snickers, Charleston Chews and Reese’s, so I know it’s not a hereditary disorder. 

I like all the candies that make you say, “Is that even food?”

I also like really bad TV shows. Ray worries about me, when he walks in and finds me watching some documentary on teenage abduction; hoarding; women with the biggest hips in the world; kids born with no brains and men who date blowup dolls. I don’t really think I’m the audience they are targeting, because I have a college education. I’m so glad I can help their ratings, though.

Now, let’s move on to my obsession with gadgets. I have a mini ice pick in my freezer to separate the ice when it clumps together. I wish I could explain why it’s satisfying to make that stabbing motion from the shower scene in Psycho and watch the cubes break apart. I use a sheepskin shoulder pad on my seat belt strap to stop the chafing on my neck, which made me paranoid that my kids thought Ray had given me hickies. I have a zoom lens I hook right onto my iPhone that makes me look like the total loser that I am. I even have a boot-remover device that I bought at a western store. You stand on the back of it with your opposite foot, as you put the heel of your boot in the front of it and pull out your foot—no bending over or struggling required. It doesn’t discriminate: It works on fuck-me boots as well as cowboy boots. And, you know those metal zig-zag taco holders that restaurants use? That’s all I’m ‘gonna say. 

Does this make me anal-retentive, obsessive-compulsive or attention-seeking? I really don’t think so. Let’s just say I’m a little strange, or how about interesting or unique, since that sounds better? I tried to bring Ray into the fold a little bit, when I bought him one of those electric shoe cleaners they have at golf clubs, you know where you press the button and the black and red nylon brushes rotate around as you put your foot underneath. He was polite and thanked me, but it’s still in the box in his storage closet.

One more thing—I know I mentioned only sugar candies above. Please don’t take that to mean I don’t like chocolate. Unfortunately I did inherit my parents’ chocolate gluttony. If you put a bag of Hershey’s kisses near me, I can assure you I don’t need a wand to make them disappear.

I dedicate this blog to Amazon, who enables my strange buying habits. When you don’t have to leave your house to buy a 1950s retro candy box or a pickle grabber tool, it’s pure bliss. How great it is to live in the United States of Amazon. 

*All names have been changed.

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Posted in confessions, errands, idiosyncracies, pet peeves, shame | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Miss Under Stood

A green complexion can make life tough. Just look at the Wicked Witch of the West. Noticing a new pimple makes me wince, so how do you think she feels waking up to a green reflection in the mirror every morning? Maybe you’d act like a mean witch, too. I learned the real story behind the Wicked Witch from the musical Wicked. She is a liberal and caring soul and truly the most misunderstood character out there. Brainwashed from childhood, I bought into Dorothy’s take on her and never even bothered to think there was a bigger picture. I’m embarrassed to admit that this is typical for me. I tend to prejudge people before knowing a whole story. It’s not one of my better qualities.

The reality is that if someone judged me on who my close friends were, I may have a very barren social calendar.

If a woman is thin, attractive and has a good sense of style, but she’s a quiet type, it’s easy to assume she’s aloof and a bitch. If another woman is quiet but is instead overweight and sports a pooka bead necklace, we would chalk it up to her simply having a less social nature. I know some women who are actually shy. I used to think, “Grow up already for God’s sake. You’re 45, not three.” But, then I learned they had some kind of social anxiety. I knew a woman like this in college, who got stomachaches before she’d go to a party. Sometimes she’d even stay home altogether. When you look at it from an angle of why, rather than an angle of an immediate eye roll, it’s surprising how sympathy develops.

For example, if someone shows up to a workout class wearing a sleeve of gold and diamond bracelets and has a Mr. T neckline, that definitely might make me stop and say, “Hmmm. I don’t think I’ll be asking her to coffee anytime soon.” But, what if the story behind the jewels was that the minerals contained in gold tempered some kind of extreme skin irritation? Then there is that mom who smothers her kids and lives her life vicariously through them. Before I label her pathetic, I have to think that maybe she was a very lonely child, who was the last pick for kickball and never went to a prom. Who am I kidding, though? I’d still think she was pathetic, but, at least I’d have some compassion behind my judgment.  

Then there’s the guilty-by-association prejudgment. You know, like, “How could I be friends with Betty, because Betty is friends with that social climber Louise?” The reality is that if someone judged me on who my close friends were, I may have a very barren social calendar. I have friends who social climb, too. They also lie on their taxes; let their underage kids drink; talk behind people’s backs; double book plans; curse at their kids; fight with their mothers; and on and on and on. Who elected me chief of the moral police, when I’m guilty of some of this stuff myself? 

A very wise and beloved cousin of mine once told me that people who are mean are usually unhappy inside. When I encounter rude people, I’m grateful when I remember that before a slight rage builds inside me. I’ll never forget a NYC bus driver I had once. I didn’t have my token ready, and she barked at me with a real nastiness. She was heavy, highly unattractive and seemed tired. A possible out-loud “fuck off” turned into an under-my-breath one. She was clearly sad inside and was lashing out to soothe herself somehow. I think she just needed to get home to her couch and wrap her crocheted blanket around herself. 

There’s always more to a story. There’s always someone just having a shitty day. There’s always the possibility that even the most perfect of us could simply be misunderstood. And, if you’re not buying any of that, there’s always pizza. It’s cheesy, crusty and not sweet, but you still like it anyway. 

I dedicate this to the next-door neighbors of my son’s apartment, as he parties, I mean studies, abroad. May they have patience and earplugs. Or, may they file complaints ever so softly. 

*Names have been changed.

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