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Category: Satire

Snarky observations about family, friends, and current events.

Octogenarian or Eighty is the New Sixty

The term Octogenarian portends a draconian vision of my future. Having reached this milestone a couple of weeks ago, I decided I like the newer demographic – eighty is the new sixty. Not that I kid myself.

If eighty is the new sixty how come every time I pass a mirror a vision of my Irish grandma appears. I have to remind myself, that she was beautiful on the inside and died with all her original teeth.

She would be shocked to see what eighty-year-old women wear today. For instance, her shopping outing had its own stringent dress code; cotton stockings, sturdy shoes, a head covering of some sort and GLOVES. I and most women my age throw on workout gear and sneakers. That is if we leave the house at all to shop.

Age eighty brought swift changes in the quality of mail I receive. A shot of tequila helps to recover my happy self. The cremation services survey topped the list of burial plots, assisted living fliers and personal care product discounts. Having never been cremated, how could I complete an unbiased survey?

It is best to avoid pop culture terms entirely. Being ghosted is a notch above being marginalized. At age eighty any reference to ghosts’ hits too close to home.

The one negative about arriving at eight zero milestones is ageism. Not sure at what age it begins – maybe sixty? The other side of this issue is most believe the filter between the aging brain and mouth doesn’t work (a convenience). Transgressions can be addressed without regard to political correctness.

I don’t believe the essence of who we are changes that much as we age. By the time one has reached eight decades, live and let live is a philosophy.

Arriving at age eighty is a gift and the only thank you required is to be happy, kind and pass it forward.


The Candy Lady and Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day for most people of my generation is evocative of a stereotypical mom of the forties and fifties. Some people got moms who wore pearls and heels. We got the candy lady.

Life with mother was like riding a seesaw gone rogue. A walking contradiction, she filled us with fear, humor, horror, and love.

Working full time in retail, she ran the household single-handed, except for helping my sister and I grudgingly provided. Her domestic standards were rigid and unfulfilled by the two of us.

Mother was the antithesis of helicopter parenting.

As soon as we could read and use the telephone, we were pretty much on our own when we got sick. We didn’t think this was unusual; or feel deprived or neglected. We learned how to use public transportation, communicate with medical providers and the pharmacist.

Never wasting a nanosecond caring about others opinions, retirement elevated her creativity to even greater heights.

Rummaging around in the recesses of a storage closet she unearthed an old Easter basket, filled it with candy and set it on a console in the den.  Sunday morning, mother picked up the basket, thrust her oversized red handbag over her shoulder, and made her way out the door to the church.

On their arrival at church, Mother hijacked a post beside the minister in the foyer to greet arriving attendees. I will never know if mother terrified the minister into submission or relief for a bit of levity. Dad, helpless without support from offspring who lived far away, crept away to an obscure pew.

Glaring looks from mothers who faced enduring a sermon with restless kids on a sugar high failed to ruffle mother. Husbands, some having been coerced to attend, were grateful for the serotonin relief from the chocolate.

She continued the practice for several years until age and infirmity forced her to relinquish her post. When she died, there was a notice in the church bulletin announcing the candy lady had passed away.

I can’t think of a better legacy than to be remembered as the candy lady.

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I Am a Hugger

Poor Joe Biden’s dilemma has me wondering; what’s an innocent hugger to do? A hug or a pat on the shoulder is not in the same category as groping, grabbing and unwanted kissing, or are they?

Are we to abstain from spontaneity when we feel affection for another person?

Last week I crossed paths with my gastro doc. We both stopped to chat, and I hugged him. I think it was mutual, he didn’t shriek or withdraw. He is a jokester and if you gotta have a colonoscopy may as well have it with someone who’s fun. After a colonoscopy a hug is no big deal. However, Biden’s issue caused me to wonder if I made my doc uncomfortable.

I am a hugger, however, to be clear, I am picky about who I hug. For instance, I wouldn’t touch Dan Patrick with a ten-foot barge pole. I’d kiss a spider before I’d hug Ted Cruz. As for DJT, nuh-uh never, even if you paid me.

On the other hand, I do not like it when someone invades my personal space. Do the recipients of my hug feel that I am not being respectful of theirs?  

Men don’t complain about hugging and as for touching; that’s something most women don’t do.

As an uncompromising feminist, I am conflicted about the issue of coming forward years after the fact to complain. It isn’t hard to step away from an unwanted hug. I would think most women, even the most reticent, would have no problem giving a go-to-hell scowl to an unwanted smooch on the top of their head.

Women need to focus our outrage on rape, sexual assault, and gender inequality. Grandstanding about a decades-old hug reinforces negative female stereotypes.

As for me, those that I hug know my gesture is one of genuine affection. Unless I receive negative vibes or someone runs the other way, I’ll continue to hug.


Teeth Grinding Phrases and Adverbs

In 2011, I published my list of annoying aggravating, teeth grinding phrases. Today the list is outdated and naive .

“If you will” topped my list. At the time I said, the term is pretentious. Plowing ahead, awash in arrogance, I went on to proclaim “Beg to differ” is downright spineless. I am ashamed I offered the following suggestion, “Heck, don’t beg. Disagree or have a fist fight, but don’t beg.”

In my view, “awesome” continues to hold first place in aggravating phrases.  Most of the situations to which “awesome” is attributed are not.

That brings me to “my bad”, “totally” and “like.” Mercifully you don’t hear that as often today. No woman over six years of age should utter these words unless she wants to label herself as lacking ability in any endeavor other than chewing gum.

I still don’t understand the phrase “thinking outside the box.”  My thoughts don’t live in a box. Most of the time they are all over the place. It would be more efficient if they were filed away in a box. When asked for a creative solution or a different approach the thought would hop out of the box, ready for action.

I never know what I am supposed to do or say after a warning that someone has “issues”. Most of the time the “issue” alert comes from a smug, superior attitude of someone I don’t like anyway.

How was I supposed to know that In 2019, annoying phrases would blast forth daily from the White House? Who could have imagined that an illiterate hot mess would be our President.

Trump has no problem stating he has all the best words —– adverbs.

Trump’s vocabulary would make my sixth-grade grammar teacher have the vapors. When he says he feels badly, my eyes water and ears hurt. I cringe and hurl expletives at the television.

He’ll get no argument from me. In addition to the burden of impaired feeling, he does a lot of other stuff badly too.

Stephen King, in his book On Writing, says, “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs “

We can only hope.

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Tolerance and Diversity Alive and Well at the Supermarket

Home or curbside delivery of groceries has a dark side to it. This service separates us from the one place where commonality unites us and tolerance and acceptance co-exist; the supermarket.

Our neighborhood supermarket is not a small bodega, but part of a large chain. A mini united nations, hijabs, turbans, and saris mix freely with saggers, soccer mom’s activewear, high fashion stilettos, business attire and retired folks sweats.

I’ve been tapped on the shoulder more than once by a shopper who speaks limited English wanting to know where an item is.

The other day, I asked a tall black man if he would grab the horseradish off the top shelf for me. He asked which heat level I wanted and when I replied, “extra hot”, His mom dressed in her African kaftan, clasped her hands to her chin and smiled her approval. I didn’t know if she smiled because she approved of my choice, or because we are both short.

I wandered over to the olive oil section and as I read the ingredients listed on my selection, this very handsome young man sidled over to me and said, “you might as well cook with lighter fluid.” Thoughts of who I could hook him up with raced around in my brain until he introduced his partner, another handsome young man. While giving me a brief rundown on a cooking class they were taking, I wondered, how did they know I was approachable. I am in that demographic group that if one believes pollsters, is intolerant of just about everything.

I concluded it must be the white hair, code for “grandma” everywhere, as babies from all ethnicities wave and smile at me from their mother’s shopping cart.

Not everyone is as tolerant of older people as babies are.

Often, portrayed as stodgy, not with it; comparable to the “use by date” yogurt taking up space in the fridge.  I observed an older couple as they pushed their shopping cart to the exit of the store. Walking side by side, the woman reached over and gave the man a little pinch on his hinny. So much for stodgy; I’m guessing putting their purchases away first when they arrived back home was not a priority.

I’ve seen every ethnicity, combination of diversity and age group at our supermarket interact without any hint of controversy or discord.

It occurred to me the reason why may be because the one thing I have never seen there is a big, red, ugly MAGA cap.

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Respecting Political Differences When Donald Trump Is the Difference

Does respecting political differences mean we should forgive Trump voters? I’m having a hard time with that point of view. Let me re-phrase that; I have a difficult time putting Trump and respect in the same sentence.

Two years of not mentioning the elephant in the room during family and social gatherings and I’m done.

Respecting political differences was easy prior to Trump.

But, if you voted for his full frontal, narcissistic attitude, it reveals aspects of your character I cannot admire and I’m having a difficult time getting past that.

Accepting him at face value, had his history and past behavior been buried, should have tipped off even the totally clueless that he is horribly flawed and unfit to lead anything.

When it comes to family members who voted for him, it is especially horrifying if it is an adult child. Conflicting and competing reactions race around in my head.

As a parent was I a failure? Did I somehow fail to convey the standard of common decency and humanity? Where were you during your high school civics class? Did you sleep during World History? (I would have known had you failed the course.)

On the other hand, I encouraged you to think for yourself and not follow the crowd; it was okay to be different, (BUT NOT THAT DIFFERENT.) How can I be horrified that you chose to do exactly that?

Other family members fall into varying categories. Siblings fall into the category of having received more of the crazy aunt/uncle’s DNA than I like to acknowledge. I sigh, “It could be worse,” and try not to think about it.

As for what in-laws think about me: well who is surprised? They always knew something was a bit “off” about me anyway; even worse I managed to corrupt one of their own.

What I think about their views: I’m not surprised; I always knew something was a bit off about them, except for the amazing one I married.

Respecting political differences is difficult to reconcile when the consequences of those differences will take decades of recovery.


Group Texting Can Be Dangerous in the Hands of Novices

Group texting is the fastest way to piss off just about everyone. The odds are in favor of somebody getting hopping mad. The stench from broadcasting a comment intended for a lone recipient is insurmountable.

This has happened to me on more than one occasion. For instance, it’s 10:00 PM and I receive a text from my friend Sarah. She wants to know if I am attending Peggy’s lunch the following day.

I respond, “Hell no, the last time I was at Peggy’s house she served something that looked like dog food. In fact, dog food would have been an improvement, but I came up with a plausible whopper to escape the event.”

Immediately after I hit the “send” button, “recipients – Sarah and PEGGY  flashed briefly on the screen. There is no way to recover from that. Seconds later, I receive a group response from Peggy informing Sarah, she is serving chateaubriand for two.

I didn’t believe it was possible for me to make matters worse, but I managed to overachieve.  A dear friend sent a text message saying she was just fine after a somewhat delicate outpatient procedure. Believing she might need a bit of encouragement, I replied with a bawdy comment or two (okay, it was three.) Seconds later, my phone blew up with notifications from women I did not know; my friend’s prayer group.

It was a learning experience. I have never seen so many biblical references relative to my comments.

I checked the settings on my text message app. There is no way to block group text messages. I called my cell provider whose lame suggestion was to tell my friends not to send me group text messages.

I sent a group text message to all contacts. Again, a learning experience. I was not aware of the variety of lascivious emoji. My phone is silent, but email is overflowing. If I can just remember not to “reply to all.”

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How to Survive that Left Out Feeling When Your Workout Gear is Tacky

My workout gear, rescued from the Goodwill bag, wasn’t wonderful when I bought it at Wal-Mart. It’s a gym. I’m supposed to look gross, with bed head hair, no makeup, sweating and grunting .

Women look at me as if I don’t belong there and I am intimidated. I feel as though I am in the nightmare where you show up in public in your underwear and everyone laughs.

Most arrive at the gym sporting designer workout gear; perfectly coiffed with every hair lacquered in place. Freshly manicured nails highlight astonishing jewelry. They leisurely stroll to the weight machines, heads held aloft leaving a cloud of Shalimar in their wake.

Struggling to lift a 15 lb weight, no expression of exertion registers on their face. Closer inspection reveals they are unable to emote facially. They have been stretched six ways for Sunday. Behind the massive bouffant hairdo is enough leftover skin to cover my sofa.

Some are accompanied by a buff young trainer named “Nick” or “Alex”. You never see a big rawboned Olympian female trainer with these chicks. Presenting body images that most women cannot achieve without starvation, surgery, and liposuction reinforces unrealistic expectations. I think they should be banned from the gym.

If I owned designer attire, I would not wear it to the gym. A buff young trainer is not in my budget. I will never look like these women and I’m not sure I want to.

If you ask me, the gym is penance, not performance art. I’m gonna go have a big burger with fries and a Hefeweizen. If I’m lucky maybe I can find some work out gear that still fits.

Note: This was my first blog post, written February 2010. Shortly after, I found a gym where women wear old clothes, no makeup and, though none will admit it, go for a hamburger and fries afterward.

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Super Short Hairstyle

Judy Dench is the only woman of a certain age who can rock a super short hairstyle. I learned this the hard way after my stylist scalped me; a process not unlike dethatching grass.

The androgynous look does zip for mature women. Had I worn a white tee shirt, with a pack of Marlboro reds tucked in the sleeve I could have passed for a teamster trucker. I looked like Freddy Krueger’s deranged grandmother.

I live in Texas. Fall out from the previous legislative session and the “bathroom bill” had the potential to make it extremely hazardous to answer natures call with this hairstyle. To be on the safe side I carried my birth certificate to avoid being hassled in the restroom.

A quick look in the mirror confirmed wearing jeans was a nonstarter. A mad dash to the mall’s nearest cosmetic counter was in order. I was humbled by the cosmetic associate’s effort to smother laughter, while she rang up an impressive amount of dollars on my credit card.

The harsh light of my bathroom mirror confirmed I had been duped. The cosmetic improvements of red lipstick, pink eye shadow, and false eyelashes made me look like a drag queen reject. I was unable to duplicate the tricky turban wrap, and the huge loop earrings bounced off my shoulders.

Google is a lifesaver; they have an answer for everything. I discovered a delightful YouTube drag queen makeup tutorial, but my appearance failed to live up to those standards. I looked like an oversized garden gnome.

After a few days, cabin fever set in and I ventured out to run errands. The pharmacy tech suggested it might be time to check in with the doctor for overdue labs. I tried to ignore the check out person at the supermarket chewing her bottom lip as she sacked my groceries.

Worn out from futile attempts to deny the obvious, I returned the make-up with a middle finger salute to the cosmetic associate as I left. She gave me a nasty look, but it’s okay. The salespeople at the local sporting goods store loved it when I purchased their entire stock of wool beanies.

This has been a season of discovery for me. I discovered mature women should never ever attempt to wear wool beanies, if they don’t want to be directed to the Salvation Army shelter.


Women and Deathbed Declarations

Women who make deathbed declarations of their failure to reach their potential have been in the news lately. Is this a last-ditch effort to vent, cast guilt on a spouse, or a warning to their daughters? Suppressing their goals/ambitions for those of their husband seems to be a common thread.

As mother’s birthday of January 15th neared, I reflected on her legacy and the parallel of these women and their stories. There was none. I am grateful.

No one could ever accuse mother of being subservient to anyone.

She was opinionated, over the top and quite vocal about not being “any man’s slave.” A study in illogicality; a housewife who elevated the domestic arts to an impossibly high standard and later a working mom.

Political correctness was never a problem for her, but her failure to adhere to it was a burden for me. Drama and chaos followed her like her Estee Lauder Youth Dew perfume.

Confronting her male supervisors at work about inequality came easily to her. Most of the time she won her issue, possibly in part because they wanted to escape.

This was during the fifties and I was in high school struggling through home economics, a required subject for girls. (Boys got to take woodwork which I would have preferred.) I hated the class; my home’s role model did not reflect the values of that time, i.e. making sure hubby was happy, blah, blah, blah. And, when it came to cooking, mother was a far superior cook to the textbook sawdust recipes we were supposed to re-create in class.

Much later, as life events unfolded, it became evident that home economics class propaganda missed the mark, but mother was spot on. Her opposition to submission instilled in me a resilience when I would need it most.

If Mother had deathbed declarations, she kept them to herself.

Some of her escapades, we laugh about, and others; we give her a “Bless her heart” pass.

Life for a woman during an era and in a region where feminism did not yet have a name had to be frustrating for someone like my mother. For those who believe the pink pussy hats are too much; well, you didn’t know my mother.

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