Category Archives: aging

Christmas Carols: A Warning

Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. They tell you that, in a song. And if it’s in a song, it must be true. It is true and you had better just get on board and believe it, missy, because he knows who’s been naughty and he knows who’s been nice and if you’re not giddy with the joy of the season, you’re going to get something a lot worse than switches and ashes. What you’re gonna get will make you wish you’d gotten a lump of coal, little girl.

Now, the songs don’t tell you that explicitly. They are far more clever than that. They’ve been around for decades, remember? Hundreds of years, some of them. Their siren songs have crushed far stronger souls than yours.

Here’s how they work: they’re chipper, they’re cheerful. They have catchy simple tunes that are easy to remember and hard to forget as they wind their way through and lodge themselves in the undulant curves of your cerebral cortex. They push out important things you’ve been saving in there, SAT words like “undulant” and “cortex.”

Having so implanted themselves within your very being, they begin to take root. They’re like that cruel cactus in Arizona, the one that sheds its seeds in pods shaped like tiny needles. The pods fall to the ground and lie there, benign, until some snake or bird or rabbit – rabbits are best– comes along. The seed pod, which has an outer shell that is spiral-grooved like a drill bit, is covered with tiny, sticky hairs which get caught in the fur of the rabbit. The seed pod, opportunist as it is, twists itself through the dense fur until it hits rabbit flesh. Then it keeps going. It bores through skin, through muscle, past veins and arteries until it hits its mark – the moist center of a vital organ. Then the pod begins to expand. It swells until the seeds burst forth and take purchase in the heart of the unsuspecting animal.

If you look closely at the base of one of these horrid cacti, where its trunk meets the earth, you will invariably find the skeleton of a bunny. That marauding plant infiltrated the innocent creature, grew itself up and through its soul, and left him there to wither, to die, in the desert.

So it is with Christmas carols.

Hum carefully, my friends.

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Dating is Like a Chocolate Pecan Cupcake

Yesterday I wanted Pecan Pie. I also wanted Chocolate Cupcakes. So, I decided to put the two together. Seeking guidance, I turned to the internet, where I found dozens of recipes, all written by witty ladies and teeming with glamorous photos of food.

My photo doesn’t look like that. Mine looks like this:  20150809_115211-1

Messy. Complicated. A work in progress.

And so, I bring you: Dating Is Like A Chocolate Pecan Cupcake.

The photo shows you my first tentative efforts. I’ve got the ingredients, I’m ready to go. I’ve told all my friends I’m going to pursue this, so I’m pretty much committed.

The internet ladies didn’t mention that there would be a cat in the kitchen, the one that wove itself between and around my legs while I tried to cook. The cat represents the things about the dating relationship that were cute at the beginning, but soon become a major annoyance, like his snoring or the way I sing Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” all day on Sunday when I do, well, the laundry.

Let’s say you get past the cat (although it never leaves the kitchen), and you make it to the point where you’ve got all the ingredients mixed together, the batter in the little fluted papers, and the pan in the oven. You look on the counter and there you see the pecans, which were supposed to go in the batter, and the Hershey’s Cocoa, which wasn’t even in the recipe. These are the little things you didn’t expect, like his friends being complete assholes or your insisting that he go with you to the “80’s Retro Dance Party” on the third Saturday of every month.

You try to recoup by pulling the pan out of the oven and sprinkling the pecans on top of the half baked cupcakes. The pecans are the guy in the accounting department who you keep flirting with, just in case your new relationship crashes and burns and you need a last minute date to your cousin Yvonne’s wedding next April. Speaking of crashing and burning, the pecans begin to smoke. No need to explain this, you all know the beginning of the end when you smell it.

But you remain hopeful, and leave the cupcakes in that 350-degree heat for another little while.

When you finally admit that they’re done, your friends look at your ruined cupcakes and put on fake smiles. “It’s not that bad,” they say. “You can try again another time, maybe use a new recipe.” That’s what all happily married women with 2.5 beautiful children say to their hopelessly single friends.

And now you’re stuck with the dishes. You’ve used every pot and pan you own to make this mess. You fill the sink and squirt in the detergent, you pull on the worn yellow gloves. You can hear your friends telling you that it won’t take as long as you think it will, that you’ll feel so much better when it’s done. You vow that next time you’ll do things differently, you’ll read the recipe all the way through, you’ll, you’ll – oh screw it, there is no positive spin to this. Everyone hates to do the dishes.

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Spa Day

pedicure

Angry asian rat

Gnashing teeth

Attacks my tender nubs

Razor edge

Snapping jaw

Sandpaper

Until all’s that left are stubs

facial

Wrap me in a warm rag

My face feels like a teabag

Moist happy mummy

massage

Let’s not talk

We only have an hour

Push pull moan groan

Pressure points

You knew I’d like the lemongrass

But c’mon, now,

We both know it’s not loveall is well

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Just Kill The Old Bird

I wonder if, when I am seventy, I wonder if I will be standing at the cashier’s counter of the Wild Bird Store, discussing with Agnes in great detail the benefits of hulled over non-hulled safflower seed vis-à-vis its desirability to the North American Carolina Wren, I wonder if there will be a forty-year-old woman standing behind me, struggling to hold a twenty pound bag of sunflower seed in her arms, and if that woman will be trying to decide if she should smile or if she should not smile when she spins that bag around like an Olympian shot-putter and launches it at my balding, blue-haired head.jenny bird seed

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Crest Fallen

Okay, Proctor and Gamble, I’ve used your “Crest 3D White Luxe” toothpaste in Glamorous White (with Whitelock Technology) three times a day for the last five days and I don’t see any indication that it has “removed up to 90% of surface stains” as advertised.

I went on a couple of vacations last year, one to visit my friend Bridget in The ‘Lu (which, she tells me, is what everyone who is anyone is calling St Louis these days), and then one with my friend Susan to Princess Island (which is what we call anywhere we go on vacation together). These trips both produced copious photographs, all of which were posted to Facebook, Dropbox, Instagram, and Flikr. Many people saw these photos, as evidenced by the overwhelming number of ‘likes’ received (an 85/15 split between friends of theirs and friends of mine).

The photos are nice. They’re black and whites, which are always lovely. In every single shot the sun is bright, I’m having good hair days, and Bridget/Susan and I are smiling widely. However. Bridget/Susan’s face is aglow with the shimmer of their clean white teeth, but not mine. My face, sparing the part of my eyeball that isn’t iris or pupil, is all the same color – except for the darker gray slash between my lips. That’s my teeth. To their credit, my teeth are admirably straight. I wore braces and headgear for five years to earn that honor.

Curious, I waited until I was home alone one evening, looked in my bathroom mirror and grinned at myself. There they were, side by side like little soldiers, perfectly aligned and decidedly yellow teeth. More yellow on the sides than on the front. You know, yellow isn’t quite right. Staring at my teeth, the first thing that came to mind was the weathered, fading slats of plywood that Ben used to build the fence around my tomato garden last summer. Functional, yes. Appealing? No.

Hence, my need for the Crest. I read your label, I felt hope, I brushed three times a day for five days. Nothing. Of course I can go see my dentist for laser whitening, but that’s not the point. You let me down. In addition to being out $6.49, I’m really disappointed. I was counting on y’all.toothpaste

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Seam Ripper

It’s cloudy outside, so I don’t mind spending my Sunday ripping seams out of my favorite red t-shirt. Besides, it gives me something to do while I sit here in front of my sunlamp, which I have to do from August ’til March lest I tumble down into that depression place where I want to tear my eyes out with a seam ripper.

My boyfriend popped in a few minutes ago and asked why I didn’t just buy a new red t-shirt. I told him that this is my favorite red t-shirt. He said he saw one just like it at Target last week and that he’d buy me one. I told him I don’t want another one, that I like the way the ragged edge around the neck hole curls up and looks interesting. He said that there is nothing interesting about a woman wearing a torn-up t-shirt. I told him that there is nothing more interesting in this entire world than such a woman, and that he had better leave. He left, but I suspect he’ll be back in time for dinner.

So, I’m ripping seams out of my favorite red t-shirt. It has always been my favorite for the exact same reason that has me ripping out the seams. This t-shirt is flattering in the way only a flat-chested woman can understand. It’s tight. And form-fitting. In fact, it is so tight and form-fitting that I have to tear out the seams around the neck because half of them tore out the last time I put it on. The reality is that my head will always be bigger than my bosoms, and the fate of the neck hole was imminent. But I can fix it. I am fixing right now. I am sitting here ripping the seams out of my favorite red t-shirt.

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Fro Youth

(509 words)

29 degrees outside, pelting sleet, but what I needed was frozen yogurt.

So, I left the motor running when I jumped out of the car and crossed the parking lot, whispering profanities as I found myself torn between moving slowly while being sliced by silvers of ice, or dashing across the tundra with the risk of falling and splitting my chin on the pavement.

“Welcome to Zinga!” the little girl shouted from behind the counter. I recently discovered that, in my estimation, any female under 25 was a “little girl.” This one had curly black hair and a smile that was possibly reflective of her true personality, or the result of having had one too many cups of coffee, or both.

“I love frozen yogurt,” she said. “And it’s not just because I work here. Can I help you?”

“No thanks, I’ve been here before,” I said. I picked up a “medium” tub and walked over to the vanilla machine, hoping that she’d recognize my familiarity with the process and leave me alone.

“Seriously, it’s not because I work here. I really love frozen yogurt. I always have the same thing, every single time. I have Triple Chocolate and I put on some raspberries and then I drown it all in whipped cream. That’s what I always do. Except last week when I had Mocha Mist and did the Oreo Dirt with hot fudge and rainbow sprinkles but I didn’t get whipped cream, which was too bad because that’s when I found out how much really I like whipped cream. Whipped cream is the bomb, isn’t it?”

I looked down and found myself in the act of squirting whipped cream on my sundae, so I couldn’t keep ignoring her. “Yes,” I said. “Whipped cream is very good.” I put down the can and waited for her to start talking again. She took a deep breath, clearly revving up for another raucous soliloquy, and during the pause I heard Rick Springfield on the Musak. “Rick Springfield,” I said. “Wow.” I picked up a pair of tongs, plucked a red cherry from its basin of goo, and plopped it on top of my sundae. “I haven’t heard this one in a while.” That was a lie. I’d heard the song the day before yesterday; it was in one of my playlists, the one I listened to every morning on my way to work.

“Yeah, right?” the girl said. “What’s this song called? Oh, yeah, “Jessie’s Girl.” I guess he was like a one-hit-wonder?”

“Actually, he had a couple of songs, and he was a soap star…,” I said.

“Oh, yeah, sure,” she said. “I remember now. You know what other song I like? I like ‘Dancing Queen’. That’s one of my favorite old songs.”

I set my cup on the scale. “Now, that one is really old,” I said. “My Mom used to listen to that one.”

“They’re all old to me,” she said.

I handed the little girl a five, told her to keep the change, and raced out to my car.

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