I was always the kid that got into trouble whether it was deserved or not.
Why? Because of my complexion. I turn red at the drop of a hat and have always had authority issues and a guilty conscience. Everything was my fault. Not because in actuality it was, but because in my head I was somehow responsible for everything. I’m still that way to a certain degree. Global warming has occurred because I’ve been lax about recycling. Just me. The steak came out too rare for the lady two tables over from me and somehow I feel like I’m morally responsible because I may or may not have sneezed when she was ordering which probably distracted the waiter and it’s because my lack of Flonase that her dinner was ruined. No one else could be responsible – just me. The cashier at the grocery store is rude to me and I wonder if my constant resting bitch face is the reason so then I try to smile which probably looks fake and will just worsen the matter. Not that they may have a bad attitude. It’s me. I’m much better than what I used to be. The exercise in self flagellation for everyone else’s bad day used to be daily. After many mistakes and someone once informing me that I’m not that relevent – it’s somewhat cured me except when it comes to family.
So in my infinite wisdom, and a streak of guilt five miles wide – I decided that we needed a house phone. Somewhere, somehow, something and someone had fallen ill in the wee hours of the morning and this clearly warranted an overdrive response of installing six phones into my house. Before I had enjoyed a few years of relative anonymity and quiet. The only access to me was my cell phone which I could turn off as needed.
Did you know that “charities” are exempt from the do not call list? I didn’t. I learned that when someone called me at 9:30 something at night looking for a donation. I was so pissed. At that time of night the only calls that have any sense of decency are either by a sick relative or George Clooney looking to take me to the Riviera.
I grew up in the days that necessitated the do not call list. My family could not get through a dinner without getting at least 2 to 3 phone calls from various organizations my favorite of which was the Starving Artists of Slovakia Fund (which I’ll get to in a moment). Usually my mother would get all lofty and loud and lecture them viciously on scamming and propriety and the sanctity of peaceful meals. My father and I took a very different attitude. We took on the challenge like it was an Olympic sport.
One evening I took the call. My father and I shot it out in rock/paper/scissors (of which I still have no idea how that idiotic game works) and I won. I know I won because I screamed loudly, “I win!” and ran to the phone. And for the record, I do not need an education in how rock/paper/scissors works. Don’t bore me with the bourgeois details. The gentleman in question asked if he could have a moment of my time. I said we were in the middle of dinner. He told me it was important. I said, “So is my dinner. It’s meatloaf. I love meatloaf.” He agreed that it was one of his favorites too. I asked if I could go back to my meatloaf and his pitch began. At the two minute mark, I started making small whimpering noises. He asked what was wrong (I was totally effing up his telemarketing mojo) and tried numerous times to resume his pitch/talk louder. Every other word I’d let out a soft cry of anguish. I finally asked him what time he was eating dinner tonight. He laughed gently and informed me that he didn’t eat until late, usually around 8:30. I asked for his home phone number. He asked why. I told him that wanted to call him at home at 8:32 just after his first forkful of dinner. He hung up on me. I’m still sad about this.
My father totally trumped me. He even got French judge to score high with his performance. The Starving Artist of Slovakia Fund called. He won rock/paper/scissors because he yelled “I win!” and beat me to the phone. The guy started in immediately that my father had to ACT NOW before the artwork sold out.
Telemarketer (TM for short) – Sir, you have the opportunity to not only put your money to a good cause but own some fine art.
Dad: How do I sign up? What’s involved? Who are you again?
TM: We represent the Starving Artists of Slovakia Fund
Dad: How do they pay you?
Dad: Wouldn’t they rather spend their money on food? No? Ok.
Dad: Go ahead. Does it matter if I’m color blind? I never did get that whole Monet thing you know? Blue and green look the same to me.
TM: Sir we’re getting off track here.
Dad: Well I should let you know what you’re up against.
TM: Sir, can we get back on topic?
Dad: If they’re starving artists, is their work any good? What if they’re dizzy from hunger? I don’t like modern art you know?
TM: Sir, they’re all great artists.
Dad: Well how do you know? Do you know all of them?
TM: Sir? If I may.
Dad: (pulling out his best John Wayne swagger) Well I’ll tell ya what….
Dad: I get paid my welfare check next week *cracks beer can* If you wanna call me back to make a deal…..Hello? Hello?
The telemarketer hung up on my dad. That is a true and significant talent right there. He strung this guy along for a solid ten minutes before this guy realized he’d been played like a fiddle.
So now flash forward one hundred years and it’s my phone. We live in the age of phone scams. I’ve been told that I owe money to credit cards I’ve never had. I’ve been told that my router is compromised. I even got the “GRANDMA?? I’ve just been mugged” call. I’ve been told it’s the IRS and after a careful audit they are arresting me and all of my kin.
I fire back most days. I don’t deem phone scammers to be an authority figure. Not even when they fake being the IRS.
“No”, I whisper, “I just use her shower when she’s not home. I’d appreciate if you could keep that between us.” They usually hang up on this one.
A good long hearty scream works wonders. Whenever they try to speak again, scream louder. That works too.
Mr. IRS guy told me he’d arrest me. I told him that Mrs. Magilla was lying on the kitchen floor because I’d killed her and since his call was originally for her, did he mean he was arresting me? Or her?
I’m really looking to beat out my Dad in the official winner takes all Olympic category for messing up a telemarketer/scammer. Mostly I want that imaginary French judge to stop giving me shitty scores.
I WANT THE GOLD!
Anyone that lives in the mid to north Atlantic region knows that we’ve had no spring…just one long, redundant, monotonous, giant, fairly mild, slightly annoying winter. In the New York/Connecticut/New Jersey section, we bore easily. We need variety or at the very least, seasons that can hold our attention. When winter lasts six solid months, we tend to zone out which leads to things like bad attitudes and inordinately high taxes and an overabundance of toll roads and false promises from our governors. Oh wait we already have that. Nevermind.
This year, allergy season in New Jersey has started approximately in February. This has lead to bingeing on large doses of Claritin and sniffling like a cocaine-laced stock broker in an Oliver Stone mockumentary which always ironically seems to have little fact and a lot of political leanings. I have counted 16 sneezes since 9AM and I’m pretty sure my nosy neighbor has too. She’s probably on the phone with Oliver Stone now elaborating on the tone and timber of said sneezes. She left a post it note on my door stating that I was out of mustard and should probably buy more Persil since there’s a sale at ShopRite.
Every member of my family is stuffed up, including my dog and none of us have seen an end in sight. Just when we’re about to cave and run to the doctor (the dog caved first) and beg for mercy, the symptoms will ebb for about two days. It never lasts. Since I am an old fashioned and delicate flower, I usually carry hankies. Embroidered hankies – like your grandmother used to chase you around with when you had a boogie nose. I literally have dozens of them that I usually have safely stowed in my purse. Regardless of constant rain (I am never moving to Seattle) there has been no break in the allergy cycle and it’s reached a point in that I perpetually have one tucked in each sleeve, in pockets, maybe even each bra cup. You gotta do what you gotta do. I’d rather not walrus my way through to July when all the pollen finally recedes so I try to keep it classy.
What I think I look like is a cross between Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada and Maggie Smith in full Edwardian regalia with a touch of Sophia Loren to account for some extra va-va-boom delicately dabbing her nose with an embroidered hanky. In my head I am that delicate flower. In reality?
I’m not sure if this is me doing my civic duty to make y’all feel better about your life choices….but you’re welcome.
When we were in New Orleans I really didn’t wear anything on my face but sunscreen. You know….like every other day.
As you can see I REALLY take my looks seriously. The first picture is the first day of my diet. Coincidentally, this was also the last day of my diet. The second picture is me taking a very important call. The third is me hanging out at Anne Rice’s house (those of you who know New Orleans will know if I’m pulling your leg or not). The fourth is me wrestling alligators because that’s what you’re supposed to do in Louisiana and the last is me giving the finger to any further or future notion of a diet because fried chicken. No other reason. Because fried chicken. I don’t care if it’s an incomplete sentence.
On our first day there, after being awake officially since 4AM and unofficially since 1AM, AND after a kickin’ breakfast at Mother’s; we stopped at Riverwalk to get a famed café au lait at Café du Monde. While my husband took an important call, I wandered around in the air conditioned outlet heaven/hell. There was a hawker (for want of a nicer term which I’ll get to in a moment) trying to lure me in for a facial and to sell me 5,000 skincare products which I really don’t need nor will use.
He asked me if he could talk to me.
I said, “Sure”.
He asked me how old I was.
I said, “Guess”.
He asked me if I wanted to look younger.
I said, “No”.
He asked me if I wanted to try his honey rosewater cemetery dirt alligator tear concoction that allegedly would make my skin as smooth as silk. When I politely demurred, stating that my skin is very sensitive and I have to be exacting in what products I use he then inquired about my eye cream. I said I didn’t use any that day. He asked if I wanted to see myself in a mirror which I can only assume is a distant cousin of the same mirror they use in women’s dressing rooms which require three shots of tequila, your best friend lying to you and a legal waiver to enter. He insisted on putting eye cream on me. I told him I’d scream. He insisted again. I smiled and declined again. He proceeded to say that I really should consider this product, “You know, for those GIANT circles and bags under your eyes”….
OH! We’re there in our relationship! It’s all so sudden.
One could say that I’m quick with a come back. One could say I have a temper. One could say that when I feel slighted significantly, that my retorts can be a tad pithy. One could say that I asked him if he needed boys underwear in size 3T to safely ensconce his tiny man-boy tsetse fly sized testes instead of big boy boxers that other well equipped dudes wear which would give one of considerable girth and breadth and width and general size room to bounce and breathe and move which one should require to throw out such an insulting bit of fluff, since we’re now so damn chummy and close that he felt he could critique my appearance. One could.
The truth is that I’m just cranky and tired of predatory beauty attacks. I’m tired of the eternal list of flaws that every woman has to face daily. But saying things like “My beauty is on the inside muthafu….” doesn’t quite emphasize my point the way I’d like it to.
So is my beauty inside? Or outside? I sometimes feel like I’m the only who sees it because I have wayyyy more self confidence than I should be entitled to and you know what? I’m totally fine with that.
No one knows us like us and no one knows what I went through to get that self confidence.
I know I should lose a few pounds, but I play games with myself…like I’m going to outwit myself. I did the same thing with quitting smoking – like somehow I would find a way to pull one over on my own mind. For years it was the theory that I could just have “one”. I would buy the pack, smoke one and throw the rest of the pack out. Guess what happened? I bought a lot of packs of cigarettes and once I realized that I was spending a fortune on cigarettes over and above my normal moron pack a day habit, it brought me to the realization that I probably should address the underlying issues that led me to smoking in the first place.
I mentioned at the very beginning of this blog (I believe the first or second post) that I was slightly overweight and completely comfortable with that as I had been so underweight my entire life. Well now my curves have curves. So I’m about a year into this blog and a year into this weird little middle aged self awareness kick and I’m wondering where I’m going with it. I take solace in witty little wood plaques that say things like “No one trusts a skinny cook” and while this is true and I regularly plan on eating my body weight in whatever is currently striking my fancy (currently garam masala mussels)- I’ve learned a couple of things about myself. Having been so underweight, I never learned portion control. Having been so underweight I never had to learn discipline. Having been so underweight I never learned that having “seconds” adds up. Having been so underweight all of my life I never learned that “I’ll take a walk later” only applies in terms of caloric burning if you actually take a walk. I’m really good at exercising in my head…….not so much in real life practice. So am I going to eat less and give up a life long love of cooking and feeding people like a grandmother? Na. Not likely. I struggle with exercise far more than I do with eating. I don’t struggle with eating at all. I really really REALLY enjoy it. I grew up in the clean plate club generation and I stand by it.
But I play these head games with myself about working out. For the longest time I had it stuck in my head that I had to get up at the crack of dawn to work out – when I’m crankiest and about to embark on activities which make me want to kill people. I HATE THE GYM. I don’t want to make friends there. But in my mind – it was go time at dawn. Did I go? No. That’s stupid. I need coffee first and I’m not a morning person. But dawn only…it couldn’t possibly be any other time of day. And forget what I normally would do, hiking, running, yoga…nope it had to be a gym.
So we meet our first timing pigeon hole.
I just want to begrudgingly sweat and get on with it so I can bake and damn cake and eat it too. Is this so much to ask for?
Next, the guilt sets in that I’m not taking care of myself the way I should be and I’m so much stronger that this and now I’m all pissed off at no one in particular (me) and swear that I’m going after work (lie). Then I’ll feel guilty that I haven’t made dinner for my family because clearly they’ll starve to death without me. This guilt outweighs the initial guilt that I’m not taking care of myself because taking care of EVERYONE ELSE leaves me with little to no time to take care of myself. A-HA! The plot thickens. So my guilt has guilt about feeling guilty and I’m stuck with a donut in my hand because all carbs matter.
Then by mid week I’ll get on my high horse again and insist that AFTER dinner I’m going to the gym, and then I’ll see the dishes in the sink and think again because clearly my husband can’t do the dishes as well as I can. He doesn’t even wipe down the counter which means we’ll all die because I’ll forget that he doesn’t wipe down the counter because I’m not exercising properly which means my blood flow is off and somehow affecting the universe and I’ll end up putting something on the counter without wiping it down first and then everybody will get sick and it’ll be all my fault because I wouldn’t get my fat ass on a treadmill.
By Friday I’m livid with myself that I’ve done nothing physical except for vacuuming and pinky swear to myself that on Saturday I’ll go for a long walk, after coffee, and my chores, and laundry, and change the sheets and call my mother and weed the garden and…..so it doesn’t happen because I’ve spent the week exhausting myself.
The truth is I will never ever ever again see my 18 year old bod. I had it. I can revel in that. I had abs that you could bounce a quarter off of. Operative term….had. And we are never ever ever getting back together. Why? I really don’t have the energy left to care. Because. That’s why. Just like I used to tell my daughter when asked for the 85th time, WHYYYYYYYYYYYY? Because that’s the only reason you go to a gym right? To attain the 18 year old you? Not to stay healthy and work off that third slice of pizza. Let’s not get carried away here.
So what’s happening in my head right now is the realization that I am
NO! I am playing games with myself. I was reminded today of my former self. Who I was to somebody else – and I had no idea.
I have great ambitions in my head. I have countless opportunities (like daily as my phone alarm goes off and I think…I only had one glass of wine last night….that’s not too many calories. So guess what??? Nothing happens. I don’t go to the stupid gym because it’s got cooties. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m like Jack Sparrow sneering cattily at the do good notions my brain likes to bat about.
The logical side of my brain says things like, “Don’t you want these chances?”
The less than logical side which resembles a toddler running with scissors does this.
I’ll let you know if I figure it out. There’s something brewing in that old scattered brain up there. Until then?
I got some new cedar planks for grilling. I got the ice cream maker in the freezer and I have my husband requesting a from scratch cake. I’ll finish my 35th book of the year and I’ll let my mind go into the quiet space where it hums under the surface and allows me to figure out where I’m going. Do I keep the blog? Do I take the plunge and write a book? Does this turn into a fitness commentary for middle aged women? Do I turn into the Barefoot Contessa with a potty mouth and write about that?
Or do I not fix what ain’t broke?
Not so long ago, Mei Mei and I had some errands to run. We left Magilla in charge of Hellhound and Fat Baby. All that needed to be done was to take the one of them for a walk while the other accompanied them.
We came home to a man so flustered and agitated I could only assume they had been ambushed by an ornery raccoon.
No, he insisted. He could defend himself against a raccoon.
Was it our neighbor then? The nosy one. The one who apparently knows everything about everyone on our block. The one who cornered me three years ago and asked me who I was voting for. The one who knows my comings and goings. The one who could probably write my grocery list, she’s so in tune with my household. The one that has inspired me to freshen up our back yard by adorning it with sculptures.
WHAT???!!!! This was sculpted by Vincenzio de’Rossi, a student of Michelangelo. It’s art. We keep it classy in our house! We fancy.
Magilla flopped back into the armchair and sighed loudly that we should ask Fat Baby why he’s so annoyed.
Fat Baby looked at us with his big brown eyes and mumbled that he had a snack.
He pulled a tree branch down and started chowing down on the leaves because he’s learning about nutrition in school and we had a salad and he likes salad and salad has leaves.
You see where I’m going with this right?
Magilla was just terrified by this. He’s worried about the kid pulling some poisonous leaves out of the ground and using them as a weapon. Magilla thinks anything green must be poison ivy. I grew up in suburbs and farmland. His origins were a little more urban. Therefore, all green things can’t be trusted. This could possibly include salad or at the very least…broccoli and definitely asparagus.
Did I mention that I wear green a lot?
Speaking of green, we landed in New Orleans on Saint Patrick’s Day. What were we thinking? There were two parades in our immediate vicinity. As we walked down Decatur some dude grabbed me by the hand and started dancing with me. Magilla, I think, was just happy that he didn’t have to dance. He informed me after my glorious 30 second waltz, hip bump and dip that this man could’ve been the mayor/could’ve been homeless. We just didn’t know. I still find this assessment accurate.
So I ate my body weight in crawfish. Had fried pickles for the first time. Went to Willie Mae’s. Blew a kiss to Marie Laveau. Went to K Paul’s and bought some spices after dinner in which the total price was $6.66. Went to a jazz club and planted my tush at the bar drinking craft beer until some dude who doesn’t shower drove me off. The homeless mayor I danced with smelled better and he and his dog lived behind a bar. I kanoodled with a gator. Toured some plantations which were simultaneously beautiful yet horrifying and humbling. And otherwise, relaxed and loved life.
Earlier this week, my husband took his mother back to her home in Pennsylvania to visit family. They are all in their 80’s by the way. He texted me, “Don’t get old”. My response was simply that my plan was to go out at 65 on Bourbon Street earning my beads during Mardi Gras the hard way with a single malt scotch in one hand and some oiled hard body personal trainer named Raul’s buttock in the other.
I’m not sure who decided that scented oil plug-ins were a good idea, but I’d like to talk to them. For hours. With some car battery cables and a pair of pliers. Dude! Really?
Our office cleaning staff and/or landlord got the bright idea of adding such a device to the ladies room. We were so lucky. It was one of those super fancy dual scented ones; the kind that are simpatico with each other and give the whole aroma package. I didn’t catch the name of each particular fragrance or the theme per se so I can only offer my perception of what they were probably called. One side must have been called dead deer left to rot in July until you can visually identify each rib and the other was asparagus forgotten in crisper bin until liquefied. Other than the occasional use by some random man who clearly could not discern the difference between ladies and gentlemen leaving the toilet seat up, there haven’t been so many issues that would require the installation of the migraine-inducing deodorizer. I walked into our office building and began to smell it from one floor down. By the second floor my nose was twitching like a rabbit sensing danger. By the top of the stairs, my eyes were watering and I put a hex on our cleaning staff.
Scent is a funny thing. I used to work with a woman who loved Angel perfume. She loved it a lot. She loved it so much that I once watched a chipmunk die of asphyxiation in the parking lot when she and her private/notsoprivate cloud of odeur walked by. The perfume and cosmetic industries are making a lot of money for producing what is essentially another “lack” that we women believe we have.
Don’t have dark, long, doe-eyed, reach your eyebrow length eyelashes?
Lack – Here’s mascara, eye lash extensions and/or dye. Because putting caustic chemicals on your eyeballs for beauty is a win/win I say!
Don’t have hairless legs because genetically you weren’t built with the same hair lacking gene as a Sphynx cat?
Lack – Depilatory, wax, epilator, razor…laser
Don’t have hair that perpetually smells like jasmine petals?
Lack – here’s a “hair perfume” – I SHIT YOU NOT
I don’t have the time to put forth all of the things that we subscribe to in an effort to attain perfection.
It’s our boogeyman. Not being pretty is the female boogeyman.
We need things to be aesthetically pleasing. It’s ingrained from such a young age that we can’t even begin to separate from it. It’s why we have things like motifs and a spray that makes poop smell like you’re farting roses and floral patterned Tupperware. We’re programmed to put pretty into everything. We are so caught up in pretty that effectively we can abide by utilitarian. Even our junk undies must be pretty and covered with paisley unicorns to make us feel more feminine. We have these conversations that when reduced, boil down to one thing.
I feel like shit
But you look pretty
I told him you were really smart
So he’ll think I’m not pretty?
She graduated magna cum laude
Must not be pretty
She got the promotion
Only because she’s pretty
My husband and I just split up and I want all the ice cream ever made NOW!
Don’t worry! One day you’ll meet your prince. Besides overeating isn’t pretty.
The sky could be raining fire a la Sodom and Gomorrah with basketball sized chunks brimstone pounding the Earth in a biblical hellfire frenzy and girls would be checking to make sure that nothing is stuck in our teeth because when we hip pop and smile pretty for God we want to make sure there’s no damn spinach stuck in our toofums.
For boys it’s so much simpler. They don’t worry about being the best looking or if their lashes are noticeable behind their glasses. They don’t have to justify they’re intellect if they get a promotion. They have simpler fears – like the deep hidden deep seeded belief that their wiener will fall off if not held 3 times per minute. Wee baby child is starting. He turns five next week. I see the future. Before his bath he’ll just grab onto it and hold it for dear life as if to assure it that it won’t melt in lukewarm bathwater. He went to throw out his juicebox…same thing. Clearly it had to be reassured that it was the empty container being tossed aside as useless trash, not his little buddy.
Last week he slapped his own bare butt in front of our company – actually it was directed at our company.
There are certain anatomical features I’ve had all my life, but I’m secure that even whilst hidden in undergarments that those features will still be there when I disrobe. I’ve never once said the words, “Where did I leave little Muffy now? I must’ve left her in the fitting room at Macy’s. Damn it! How will I explain this one to Magilla?” It’s never happened. Never.
I’m not saying woman are better than men (yes I am). I’m not saying women are more rational (we are). My husband likes to inform me of my less than spectacular moments. He likes to point out when I’m a little, shall we say, vocal. I merely offer up the notion that while women tend to be driven by emotions and hormones and the occasional chocolate overload, we know where everything on our person is and we are confident it will remain there unless otherwise negotiated. So while I’ve heard a time or two from our male counterparts that we’re crazy….
Pretty? Wiener theft? Pretty? Wiener theft?