Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Miss Cheerychirpy

When I called to get membership renewal information from a senior organization to which I subscribe, I got one of those computers that pretends to be a real live female person. It seems to be the fad among companies as this is not the first time I’ve run into Miss Cheerychirpy.

“Now, then,” Miss Cheerychirpy said in the English I requested, “I need to ask you a few questions so we can proceed.”

“We?” I looked around the room and there was no one else in here. Surely the marketing “suits” don’t think we REAL people are so stupid that we don’t know we’re talking to a MACHINE and that a computer and a real person does not make a “We.”

Miss Cheerychirpy asked a few more questions and finally said, “We need someone to helps us. I’ll get a representative on the line.” Oh, pulleeeezzzzeeee. “US?” Now we’re “us?” Well, at least she’s getting “us” help. Did “she” dash down the hall to where the humans are?

Did she turn on her speaker and whisper in Roberto’s ear, “Sweetie, there’s an old broad on line four who is a real pain. Would you take the call … you are sooo good at talking to customers.” Then I bet her tiny little screen blinked a blue glow at Roberto and she flashed him a bit of well-turned cable.

While I waited on hold, another Miss Cheerychirpy told me that I could renew online. Well, I tried that, but the special offer didn’t appear. That’s why I’m waiting for Roberto. Poor Roberto. I bet he never succumbs to Miss Cheerychirpy’s charms again. He sounded embarrassed as he explained that the special offer, in this age of technology and high-speed internet, was only available by – are you ready for this – MAIL. Roberto couldn’t even renew the special-offer membership on the phone! The card had to be returned by, yup, the USPO in the postage-paid envelope with an accompanying check!

As politely as I could, I told Roberto thanks for his trouble and that I was going to throw the offer away. I figure that two-minute phone call cost the company at least $40 – the cost of developing, printing and mailing the offer, Roberto’s salary, the 800 number, the equipment and power to run it – and then they lost a sale!

At least I did not use the same language I used the first time I got Miss Cheerychirpy on the line at – of all places – the phone company. Those pretend-people computers at Ma Bell have delicate little audio sensors and must blush right before they hang up on you.

Here’s a trick a friend of mine suggested that he swears works with these pretend computer people. When Mr. Pretendperson or Miss Cheerychirpy asks a question, mumble. Make it a good mumble, something like, “ummblllwwwwaaywammm.” When asked to repeat, mumble again. If that doesn’t get you transferred to a real person, cough. Cough a couple of times if you want to blow the circuits. When you do get a real person, don’t give away this secret technique by shouting, “YESSSSS, it works.”

Have a nice ummblllwwwwaaywammm!!!!

Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!


There, I said it.

Did I offend you? Too bad. Get over it.

Christmas tree. Christmas garland. Christmas decorations. Christmas dinner. Christmas Eve. Christmas Day. Christmas celebrations. Christmas presents. Christmas party. Christmas service. Christmas carols. Christmas play. Christmas cards. Christmas spirit. Christmas toys. After-Christmas sale. Christmas cookies. White Christmas. Christmas story. Christmas prayer.

You will have to excuse me now.

I have to go Christmas shopping!


Friday, November 04, 2005

What’s With These Names?

I’ve noticed there are a lot of “celebrities” in the news that I never heard of – names like Heather and Todd and Jen. There seems to be a lot of “Jens” divorcing, having babies and getting engaged. Are they different women or just one very busy young woman?

There are also too many people named “Paris” for me to keep up with and I have yet to figure out just what it is that all those “Paris” people actually do. I also wonder if, in four or five years, kindergartens will be overwhelmed with little boys and girls named “Paris.” Will teachers have to resort to the two-name identification like “Paris Jen, please sit down” and “Paris Brad, you may be excused”?

I’ve heard of Mary Kate and Ashley – over and over. Everyone in the entire world has heard of them. I just don’t know which one is which and really don’t care. With that much money, if they want me to know, they can send me an autographed brochure with information on how to identify one from the other. I still won’t care, but I can put the brochure on eBay.

I also have no clue about the names of some of the musical groups. I don’t even understand their names and it’s hard for me to appreciate their “music” when I am cringing at the sound of the few words I do understand. I wonder how some of this new stuff would “rate” on the old Bandstand. “Uh, yeah, Dick, it’s really loud with lots of profanity and you can jump up and down to it. I’ll give it an eight.”

Oh, and have you noticed that some celebs are giving their innocent little babies the kinds of names that will torture those kids the rest of their lives? I hope those moms and dads also enroll “Apple” and “Kal-el” and “Phinnaeus” in Karate classes as soon as the kids can walk. Speaking of unusual names, what ever became of “Moon Unit?”

Names seem to run in cycles. If you want to find out what was the most popular name last year check out the Popular Baby Names from 1880 to 2004 on the Social Security Online site at http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/ .

The thing that has me puzzled is why baby names are on the Social Security Web page! Even more puzzling is why is it important for our government to keep track of and publish this information. I seem to recall seeing a little booklet of baby names, along side of the astrological day-by-day forecasts, at the checkout counter at the pharmacy.

In case you were wondering, the most popular baby names from 1880 to 1923 were John and Mary. Now that is a whole bunch of “Johns” and “Marys.” Maybe that’s why a zillion young parents named their kids Jacob and Emily last year.

But there is one good thing about everyone having a name. Can you imagine the confusion if we didn’t have names? Then the most popular un-name would be “Uh-er-you-there” and “Heyu.” Well, I’m glad we settled that.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Babies Have No Laps

We all know that a plump granny has no lap. The lack of lap is in proportion to the plumpness of the granny. The plumper the granny, the less lap. Some grannies are so plump, they just have knees.

Now here’s something I bet you never considered: Babies have no laps. Have you ever seen a lap on a baby? There you go. Brand new babies can’t even sit up to make a lap, and then if they had a lap what would they do with it? There’s no room for a lap with all that diaper business.

Babies can stick their toes in their mouths, something grannies can’t do. By the time a baby gets to be a granny, she doesn’t WANT to stick her toes in her mouth even if she could still bend that way. (However, some grannies can take out their teeth and bite their own toes!)

I wonder if one day a child wakes up, comes to the breakfast table, sits down, and bang!, there’s a lap. I bet if Hallmark gets wind of this astute observation, they will come out with a card to celebrate the occasion. “Happy Getting Your Lap!” or “Congratulations on Becoming a Lap Owner.” Parents could enclose one dollar for each year it took to get a lap. Dads – and moms, too – could stride into the office, “Yep, kid got her lap today. Gotta go out tonight and celebrate.”

There’s one thing for sure about this lap business. The size of the lap is not in proportion with the love grannies give to babies. No matter how ugly a baby is (oh, stop it, your baby is not that ugly), lap or no lap, grannies always coo and fuss over those tiny people with no laps. In return, babies coo and smile and spit up on their grannies.

Okay, it’s not a perfect world. But for those of us who had grannies or later became a granny, it’s close enough.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Confessions of a Tag Ripper

I’ve carried this burden for years and now feel that it’s time to confess to my horrible deeds. It all started when I was nine and alone in the house. I saw it and read the warning and just couldn’t help myself. I felt my hands close around the tiny object and before I realized the consequences, I had scorned the warning and the law and viciously ripped the “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of the Law” tag from my mattress.

There it was, right there in plain sight, and in an instant I had removed that tag, become a pre-teen criminal, and left that poor helpless mattress adrift on the bed frame with no identity. Suddenly I was terrified that the “law” would come pounding on the door and demand that my parents turn over the culprit along with the evidence of my crime.

I wadded the tag into a small ball and hurriedly buried the evidence under the azaleas. In case anyone came looking for the proof of my dastardly deed, I thought it a good idea to add a bit of dog doo to disguise the freshly dug hole.

For weeks, every time someone came to the door or called on the phone, I was convinced it was the “law” coming to take me to prison for the rest of my life. As the days passed uneventfully, my confidence of having gotten “away with it” overrode my fear of discovery.

Several years passed. I had no uncontrollable urges to rip tags. Then it happened again. My mom bought new bed pillows and discarded the old, tags and all. The new pillows were lofty and fluffy and smelled fresh and new. That night, alone with my new pillows, I felt my hand slipping under the pillow case and as if in a trance I heard that sound – riiiiipppppp! Then the other pillow – riiiiipppppp!

I thought about running away from home. I thought about finding a support group, Tag Rippers Anonymous. I thought about wearing mittens over my hands like the nail biters did, but that would look really stupid during the day and make it really hard to write reports for class.

From then until I got married I would only snatch a tag now and then. Sometimes when visiting friends, I could make off with one or two new tags to add to my collection. Yes! I had started saving the “evidence” in an old shoe box under my bed and felt a thrill with each new tag added. I reveled in the different sizes of tags and different styles of print. I also learned the hard way to never quickly rip a large tag off a feather pillow with a loosely sewn seam. It’s not a pretty sight.

Then I became a young bride and my obsession exploded. I had my own pillows, my own mattresses and I could rip in broad daylight and toss those little jewels into the air and watch them float down to carpet.

Then one day my world crashed. No I wasn’t apprehended and forced to work in the prison kitchen. It was worse than that. The wording on the tags changed. Manufacturers announced the final consumer could indeed remove the tags. My life of crime had been a sham. I hadn’t broken any laws after all. Well, bummer.

Now the tags read something like this: “UNDER PENALTY OF LAW THIS TAG NOT TO BE REMOVED EXCEPT BY THE CONSUMER.” Except by the consumer! Me!

There, it’s over. I’m free now. I can bring home pillows and rip away. It’s not fun anymore. Unless ….. say, you wouldn’t happen to know of a job opening in a pillow factory, would you?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Class Reunion

My high school graduating class recently celebrated it’s 50th reunion. Fiftieth Reunion! Fifty years since we all graduated! Well, instead of the classmates showing up, all their grandparents came. The room was filled with old people.

I barely recognized these older folks, but many seemed to know each other and called out first names when greeting. Ironically, these grandparents had the same first names as their grandchildren – my classmates – and some bore an amazing resemblance to the kids I went to school with. Some of these folks were pretty spry, others seem to have had a few misfortunes along the way.

What?! Those old people ARE my classmates?! How did that happen? The last time I saw most of them, they still had their own hair, teeth and even their own faces. So what if that was at graduation.

Thank goodness I’ve not changed a bit. Well, okay, there is just a teensy bit more of me. And my hair has lightened considerably. And there is just a line or two here and there that I only see in my 6x magnifying mirror. I’ve also noticed I’m a bit blurry when I check my makeup in the hall mirror. The blurriness is particularly noticeable right before I put on my bifocals. Probably just the lighting. I’ve noticed, too, that when I walk past a store window at the mall, it looks like some older woman has rushed up beside me and I can’t see MY reflection. Weird though, if I wave, she waves. I bet it’s someone inside the store practicing that old Lucy routine.

Some of the classmates said it was the best reunion ever. Well, sure they would say that. They can’t remember all the previous ones. At least I think there were previous reunions. I wonder if I went? I’ll have to call and ask one of my friends. Now where did I put that number. And the phone. I’ll have to call tomorrow. Right now I have to go find my car keys. The hard part is finding the car I left the keys in. I’ll bet that woman in the mall store window knows.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Explanation Needed

A dear friend recently gave me a trio of bath products containing “botanicals” that include aloe and papaya. The three products also include Red 33 and Yellow 5. I’m guessing that these are dyes and wondering if artificial colors cancel out botanicals or if they are real chummy and get along just fine in the same plastic bottle.

I’m not quite sure which parts of the body the “body spray” is meant for and which parts I should actually spray – just parts like elbows, knees and navel – or go for it and spray toes, backs of knees and ear lobes. The directions clearly state, “Avoid contact with eyes,” “For external use only,” and “Caution: For adult use only.” Okay, no gargling this stuff and or using it for eye drops; I could have figured that out. I’m not clear on the “adults only” and what the effect would be if the body spray were sprayed on a nine-year-old. Would the child suddenly shrink into a one-year-old or explode into an adult, thus missing the difficult teen years?

The body lotion directions are pretty clear telling me to apply all over my body (takes care of the elbow, knees and navel question) to soften my delicate skin and to use it right after bath or shower. What the label leaves out is if should I spray, then moisturize, the other way around, or wait four hours after spraying for any chapping to occur, then nip it right away by slapping on the lotion.

Now here’s the one that has me stumped – the “exfoliating body scrub.” I tried it and really like the results. It has little grainy things that help remove disgusting dry skin and leaves what skin is left nice and soft and smooth (very important if you are already wrinkly and flakey). It’s the name that bothers me, especially the “exfoliating” word.

Is there any link from “exfoliating” to other similar words? If an American who lives in Mexico was tossed out of his church and uses this product, is he an exfoliated, excommunicated expatriate? Can that be shortened to “exfol excom expat?” Just how many “exes” can a person have?

What about the University of Exeter in Britain? When a student graduates, do they get an exegree.? Then there’s FedEx. Think about that one for a while. Are they for or against the government?

This could go on forever. Please EXcuse me but I’m beginning to sense a bit of flaking on my arms so I’ll make a quick EXit to go apply body lotion with the paint roller I found in the garage. Hope you have an EXciting day!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Tidy People

Tidy people are always ready for company to visit. We non-tidy people need a bit of time to tidy up, like a week.

Tidy people purse their lips together and then say, “A place for everything … ,” then clear their throats so your mother’s voice in your head can finish the sentence.

Non-tidy people have a place for everything, too, -- the floor, the bed, the couch, under the bed and the couch, the corner, and if we’re lucky, a spare room to stuff the big stuff.

Tidy people always know where everything is. We non-tidy people (oh, heck, just call us “NTP” to save typing time) know we have it somewhere, we just can’t lay our hands on it at this very minute so we go out and buy another.

Tidy people have matching pairs of things that come in pairs; socks, for example. We NTP buy all our socks in the same color and style, so what’s the big deal about matching?

Tidy people don’t have Wendy’s wrappers and drink containers on the floor of their cars. Yeah, so?

NTP are more adept at finding things and do very well when challenged because of our heightened awareness of what could be hiding under what. Our bodies are also more flexible, kept in shape by stretching to the top of the closet and bending and crawling around the bed to peer under the dust ruffle.

Tidy people line up their shoes by category (dress, casual, athletic), then by color. Same with the clothes. How in the world do they ever find anything to dress “creatively?” I bet they have never worn red tennies to a wedding.

Tidy people should not marry NTP. Drives ‘em both crazy. They can hang out together, then everyone needs to go home – their own home.

Hummm. I wonder what happens when tidy people do marry NTP and have children, if those children are now all the whiney kids you see on Dr. Phil?

I’d explore this psychological breakthrough longer, but I have to go look under the bed for my other sock.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Library Wonderland

When was the last time you went to the public library? For some reason, I missed about forty years, but felt the tug when a brand, shiny new regional library opened last week just down the road.

Whoooee, there have been some changes over the years, let me tell you. First of all, do you know they have videos in both VHS and DVD? (I’m just now figuring out what the initials mean.) The last time I went, video players had not even been invented. The last time I went, we were “shushed” and had to speak quietly because sound echoed around the giant racks of books. Now you can talk almost normally and all kinds of sound-deadeners keep most conversations private.

The last time I went, you had to have a flashlight to find anything on the towering racks or nearly go blind under spitting, crackly fluorescent bulbs. Now huge windows fill the room with light, supplemented with fluorescent bulbs with “natural” glow. Oh, and where did those old wood card catalogs with the hand-typed 4”x5” index cards go? There must be a huge warehouse full of them somewhere because now all you have to do is click, type a few words and hit “Search” and a new flat-screen computer monitor whisks you to your author or title or subject.

Some things never change. The kid's room is still filled with all ages of boys and girls sprawled at tables who are lost to the magical world of reading. Moms hover over smaller children and still point out Winnie or Alice or Dorothy. Now, however, computer savvy kids click, peck and point with the mouse extension of their brains faster than I could ever find the water fountain.

The chairs, aaaahhhhh, the big lounge chairs, are new and just made to sink into and read the latest newspapers from all parts of the world or browse through favorite magazines, no matter what your interests. If that doesn’t appeal to you, then do research on the computer if you get there before the older kids come in to do homework.

Even checking out a book has changed. No more cards to remove from the pocket at the back of the book where you could see who else had read your choice. No more squish, then bonk as the librarian inked the due date, stamped the card and slid it back in it’s little pocket. Now you just scan your new plastic, wallet size bar-coded card, then flip up the side of the book with it’s own bar code, scan, and you are on your way.

There are some things I miss, like the slightly musty smell that, as a kid, I thought was knowledge floating around in the air. (Obviously, if I thought that, it must not have been.) I also liked the old porcelain water fountains with the bubbly cool water. (Don’t put your mouth too close, you just don’t know who else has been there!) I miss seeing those prim ladies at the checkout desk with their lace collars and sensible shoes who peered through wire-rimmed glasses and said, “Now don’t forget to bring this back next Thursday.” Those prim librarians have been replaced by young men and women in slacks or jeans with ready smiles.

What I love about the new library is the rack of Best Sellers, all the videos, the thousands of book choices, books in paperback, the huge selection of magazines and newspapers, the “reachable” shelves, the really cool checkout, and the casual atmosphere. “Come on in and read.” Well, now that I think about it, I just love everything!

So many books, so little time.

Yep. I like the changes the forty-some years have brought. What I like best is the one thing that hasn’t changed. You can still check out a stack of books for free!

You Know it's time ...

You know it’s time to mop the kitchen floor when you leave the room and your sock stays.

You know it’s time to get a new shirt when a passerby says, “Hey, great retro threads, man.”

You know it’s time to spend less time on the computer when you try to “refresh” the TV screen.

You know it’s time to clean the refrigerator door when you can’t let go.

You know it’s time to vacuum the carpet when sprouts appear.

You know it’s time to clean your car windshield when the guy passing out flyers in the parking lot just slaps one on the glass over the gooey bugs.

You know it’s time to mow the lawn when the dog disappears … and it’s a great Dane.

You know it’s time to trim your ear hair when someone comments on your sideburns and you don’t have any.

You know it’s time for the kids to move out when their Social Security checks take up all the room in your tiny mailbox.

You know it’s time to take down the Christmas tree when all the needles have shed from the tree and it’s an artificial tree.

You know it’s time for the neighbor to crank up his new leaf blower when you have just settled down for your Saturday afternoon nap.

You know it’s time to think up – and contribute – one of these when you read this.

Friday, September 09, 2005


What ever happened to “dungarees?” I haven’t seen dungarees for sale in many years. I can get “jeans” and “denim,” but where are those good old, sturdy “dungarees?” Years ago, getting a new pair of dungarees was almost like getting married. You picked them out, signed the paper (charge slip), brought them home, and if properly cared for would last for years. I had a favorite pair of dungarees that outlasted my marriage!

The old-fashioned dungarees had to be broken in before they could be worn. First you had to wash the heavy-duty fabric several times just to get it to bend. Few homes had indoor driers or even fabric softener, so most dungarees were line-dried, adding to their stiffness. Just bring ‘em in and stand ‘em in the corner! It could take months, even years, of wearing and washing to achieve that softer, relaxed fabric.

Dungarees were made of such a thick and tight weave, even after “breaking in,” they provided a degree of protective covering. You could climb trees, roll across concrete and fall into creeks and although the dungarees might be scuffed and scraped, your body remained unscathed and in one piece. Parents bought their kids dungarees in one size too large knowing that the blue armor would last through several growth spurts. Unless you were the youngest of a family of ten, you could count on getting hand-me-downs that originated with the oldest sibling.

Depending on how tight a fit was desired, we teen girls pulled on our new, store bought dungarees and jumped into a bathtub full of hot water for a custom-contoured shrink alteration. Well, maybe it only rinsed out some of the dye, but we thought the shrink trick worked. Less expensive dungarees could result in an added surprise and take up to a week for the blue stain to wear off our lower bodies! As for tightness, if we didn’t have to fall backwards on the bed and inhale deeply just to zip, the pants were too loose!

There were no style choices, just sizes. No ”low-rise,” no “flare bottom” no “boot cut” no “elastic waist.” Just one style, but, oh, what you could do with that one style if you had imagination and a sewing box full of decorative trim. Older dungarees were turned into “cut-offs” and could be snipped anywhere from knee-length to cheek-to-cheek. We were wearing the shorter version of cutoffs way before the heroine of “Dukes of Hazard” pranced around in her now famous “Daisy Dukes.”

Now that I’m more mature – okay, really mature – I miss dungarees. I also miss the body I once had that fit into those dungarees. Now I shop for pre-shrunk and softened, elastic waist, stretch, no-iron, wide-leg jeans to fit the expanded areas of my body. If I had to fall backwards on the bed to zip, I’d probably fall asleep and never get out of the house. Yes, there is a lot to be said for the immediate comfort of the new style jeans. Oh, and the less said about the body that now fits into them, the better!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Fine Art of Having Fun

I once worked with a young woman who had incredible talent as a writer, but was most appreciated for her unusual sense of humor. Nothing was safe from her barbed wit. If you said you “love chocolate” she would whip back, “Well, why don’t you marry it?” No matter what you loved, she would suggest the nuptials.

She had several girlfriends and before they all got boyfriends and husbands, the “girls” would go out on Fridays to some of the more popular watering holes. Debbie (not her real name and she would gag if she knew I dubbed her “Debbie”) and friends had a unique way to preserve their privacy and have a fun fantasy life as well.

They not only made up new names, they made up entire careers. Debbie had a fantastic imagination, along with knowing a little bit about a lot of things, so her careers were a bit more inventive than her friends. One time she had just gotten out of surgery after delivering a baby by cesarean. Another time she had just flown in from some exotic island where she had been digging in Mayan ruins. She would also mumble about CIA connections, being in the witness protection program, or, “Sorry, it’s classified.”

One of her best pranks, with the help of a friend, was to shadow a third girlfriend who had gone to meet a blind date in a restaurant. Of course, the two “shadows” decided to go in disguise, but funds were low, so they had to settle for wigs – really bad, long, jet black “Elvira” wigs. If that wasn’t bad enough, they wore sunglasses. The girlfriend meeting the young man spotted them right away. In fact, everyone in the whole restaurant spotted them. Debbie was unfazed by the stares of diners and staff alike as she and her accomplice plopped down two tables away.

The friend with the date tried hard not to burst out in laughter, but the sight of the those two in their really, really bad disguises was more than she could contain. The poor guy she was meeting had no idea what was wrong with his date and was probably thinking she was having some sort of spasm and maybe he should just get up and run. After several awkward minutes, the date suddenly remembered his house was on fire, threw some cash on the table for the drinks and bolted for the door.

The three amigos decided the guy was not the right type anyway and had no spirit of adventure, so they ordered a round of margaritas and toasted their friendship. After that adventure, however, the woman with the blind date never told the other two the “when or where” when meeting a date for the first time.

The point is that Debbie had a lot of fun and the people around her had a lot of fun. Her wit was spontaneous, sharp and to the point, but never mean or nasty. She found humor in most situations and never took herself – or others – very seriously.

Life is way to serious. We need more Debbies.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Why Oreos are Good for You

Many dieticians think Oreo cookies are not part of a “healthy” diet. Apparently they have never examined an Oreo carefully and made the connection to the wholesome, nutritious ingredients. Let’s examine an Oreo as a health food.

The “cookie” part of an Oreo is the color of dark chocolate and has a chocolate flavor. It must be chocolate. Chocolate contains flavonoids and is now being touted as an anti-oxidant. Additional ingredients include flour. Flour is made from grain. Grains are good for you. Therefore, the cookie part of an Oreo is good for you.

Now for the center. The center of an Oreo (the part you lick after separating one of the cookie layers) has a smooth creamy center similar to cream cheese or yogurt. Cream cheese and yogurt are high in calcium and protein and are good for you. Therefore, the center part of an Oreo is good for you.

Do you dunk your Oreo in cold milk? Ummmmmyummm, dunked Oreo. Soggy and drippy with cold milk and squishy in your mouth. Oh, sorry, I got carried away. If you dunk your Oreo in milk, you increase your calcium and vitamin intake.

Conclusion: Oreos are good for you.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Alien Theory

Most of the people I’ve known for any length of time have heard my theory about aliens snatching good body parts and leaving behind the older parts they had been wearing. My friends and I heartily agree it has happened to us. That’s why we look so much older now than we did when we were 23.

My theory is that when we arrive at maturity, anywhere from 18 to 24, and we are at our physical peak, our bodies are done “growing” and cease to age. If it were not for these damn aliens running off with our parts, we would be gorgeous, young and energetic forever.

Now I know you are thinking this is a lot of bunk. Uh, huh. Look at your hands. If you are over 30, are those the hands you started out with? Look in the mirror. See what I mean? If you are over 50, I bet that is not your neck and that flab around your butt isn’t yours either.

Over the years, depending on how old you are, parts have been repeatedly snatched from right under your nose. Speaking of under your nose, girlfriends, did you always have that little mustache?

Here’s how it works. The aliens sneak down to earth in their invisible space crafts. (Yes, invisible! Have you ever seen one?) Their bodies are very old and wrinkly with splotches and saggy places and most of the little old women aliens have flaps under their arms. (Now you have seen those, right?)

The aliens start working backwards, or maybe that’s forwards for them, starting with the older people first. You are pre-selected (kinda like all those offers for credit cards) for which part or parts can be snatched. When you are sleeping, the aliens furtively apparate (Harry Potter term) from their crafts to your sleeping quarters. Whooosh. Before you can snore once, there go your hands, maybe the skin around your eyes, a tooth or two, your vision. Over the years, you are all old and wrinkly and the aliens are strutting around in all the good stuff they have collected over the years.

Can it happen to them? Sure, if they are not careful. Why do you think all these cosmetic companies are promising to rejuvenate and preserve that youthful look? Yep. Alien companies.

Can you stop the aliens? Only if you catch them and quickly snatch back any parts you want. Don’t forget the inside parts, too. Get the ones that work real good. Be warned, those aliens are pretty fast and they sometimes sneak up in twosies and threesies.

Well, now that you know what’s going on, you can be on the lookout. From now on, when you look in the mirror and that “older” person looks back, it’s not your fault. It’s the aliens.

The only way you can keep anyone from knowing you are "getting older" is to eat lots of garlic. Oh, and don't bathe. And live in a cave. You still “age" because aliens can't smell, but you will stink so bad humans won't come near you.

The good news about being avoided is that you won’t have to listen to that lie, “Oh, my gosh, you haven’t changed a bit!”

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Superwoman Multi-Tasking

The young working woman of today fascinates me. I think they should be called “superwomen.” Their ability to mesh the requirements of career, home and family far exceeds anything women of my generation could accomplish.

In the ‘50s, we girlfriends all wanted to go to college to get our “M. R. S.” degrees. (Isn’t that just so cute you could barf?) We ultimately had our sights set on one of those new homes in the new subdivision with two bathrooms and parking for two cars. In a lot of cases, our degrees in nothing-too-hard-because-we’re-only-here-to-find-husbands were put aside to shove Mr. Right through the last few years of his going-to-be-really-successful degree. We ‘50’s girlfriends went along with this silly idea because our mothers taught us that if we didn’t have husbands, we would not be accepted into proper society.

Then came the ‘60s and with each bra burned, so did liberation of women’s brains. We taught OUR female children that it was okay to be brainy and aspire to become independent and self-sufficient. “Yes, dear, you can become a doctor, lawyer, physicist, astronaut, and/or mommy. Whatever you want to be.”

Now their daughters are heads of corporations, perform delicate surgical procedures, serve our country (and sometimes die) in the military, design beautiful bridges, hold government offices, and lead missions to the space station. They do all this during the day and at sunset change careers to become super mom starting with picking up the kids from daycare -- a baby on a hip while steering a toddler into the SUV using the vise-grip-on-the-head technique.

Marriage is not a necessity, but rather a choice. Childbearing is not required and is now a choice. Even a woman’s sexuality is a choice. Modern women have choices! Whaaahooo!

I’m amazed. And jealous. I want a life “do over.”

Now if you daughters of our daughters can just get this war thing under control, which I know you will as soon as you stop primitive men from blowing each other up (oh, yeah, like explosions solve anything), we can get on with finding cures, exploring space and cleaning up our atmosphere.

Right on, daughters of our daughters!!!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

On Being a "Senior"

Before I became one, I always thought I had already been one and then grew up. Now I’ve found that even though I had been one in high school and later in college, and then not one, here I am – a “senior” again. My “senior” friends from years ago are also “seniors” again. The frustrating part is that we didn’t recapture the youthful vigor of the former “senior” incarnations.

The good part is that we get discounts. Secret discounts. Most merchants don’t tell anyone about their senior discounts, but if asked, employees will shout, “Why of course I can give you a ‘senior’ discount.” (They assume that all “seniors” can’t hear. We “seniors” assume that all people under the age of 30 can’t hear because of nerve damage to their ears from listening to that music through headphones and riding in cars that can be heard thumping from three blocks away.) We shout back, “Thanks, “Junior.”

Another good part about being an elder “senior” (oops, elder and senior mean the same thing), okay, and old gezz, is that we get away with saying a lot of stuff about people that we couldn’t get away with when we were younger. We were taught that if “you can’t say anything nice – blah, blah, blah.” We held in a lot of opinions about each other like, “That guy is not only ugly, but he’s a total looser.” We said things like, “He has rugged features and a lot of potential.”

Now we just blurt out our opinions, wanted or not, and get away with it! Our younger family and friends excuse our behavior and attribute our rudeness (we call it “honesty”) to our advanced age and impending senility. What fun! The cartoon character, Maxine, has it right with her famous line, “A friend will always a tell you exactly what she thinks! So I guess that makes me friends with everybody.”

So I’m here to tell you "youngin's," “Back off, Buster.” We “seniors” may have lost our youthful agility, but what we can no longer accomplish physically, we have gained verbally. Unless you want to get cut up into tiny little syllables and scattered on the floor, you better spit out that “senior” discount, shout “Thank you, ma’m,” and pull up those damn pants.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Friends and Computers

I have found my friends fall into two categories: those who do not have computers and those who do. The friends who have computers fall into two categories: those who are techies or techies-to-be-soon and those who get where they want to go and that’s all they want to know.

The proficient ones have already checked out my blog and made comments. The other group – well, in marketing lingo you might say they are the slow adapters. Getting to my blog is way beyond clicking on the email button and wading through the “friendship” emails, the “good luck” emails, the “dire warning” emails, the “photos of animals in really cute situations” emails, the “info” emails, and the ever circulating “trashy jokes” emails.

Of those who don’t have computers, there is a small segment of “no way, no how” friends who will have nothing at all -- not now not ever, don’t even think about it -- to do with anything that resembles a computer. Most of these friends are my age and they are, well, ssshhhh – don’t tell – senior citizens.

The other day a conversation went like this.

“I just started a blog.”

“A what?”

“A blog.”

“Whad ya name it?”

“Name what?”

“Your dog.”

“Not a dog, a blog.”

“Nadablog? That’s a stupid name for a dog.”

“I don’t have a dog. I started a blog – it’s on the Internet.”

“What? You haven’t named it yet?”

“Yes, I named the blog.”

“Whadda ya call him?”

(Igiveup.) “SKIPPY!”

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Mower Guy

I just watched a guy drive past my house. I live in a typical subdivision, you know – houses side by side, neatly kept lawns, trimmed driveways and sidewalks, kids playing in sprinklers in the front yards. People drive by all the time. So what?

The guy was on a riding lawnmower on the sidewalk! Really. I’ve seen him several times before and have no clue (a) why he is riding around the neighborhood on a mower, and (b) why he is on the sidewalk.

He was wearing cool sunglasses, a muscle shirt, shorts and sandals. He’s mid- to late thirtyish and does not appear to be handicapped. He has a nonchalant attitude, sort of laid back, driving with one hand, and lips pursed as if he’s whistling. As he cruised by, he was scoping out the yards and houses. (Yard envy?) Perhaps he imagines himself in a Miata negotiating the roads of Monte Carlo at breakneck speeds of two miles an hour.

Okay, maybe he is on the sidewalk because riding mowers are not street legal. Are they sidewalk legal? I can see him now at the tag agency. “Uh, yeah. Need a license for muh mower. I run that baby through the hood. Corners real gud.”

Oh, you know what, maybe he’s a voyeur, but too lazy to walk. Sort of a mobile perv. The fresh air, the open road, uh, sidewalk, and the vibration of that 20 hp engine despite the “turfsaver” tires.

It’s a pretty sharp looking mower, all clean and shinny, nice polish job. Bet it’s one of them jobbies with automatic transmission and zero turning radius. Maybe the little woman at home said, “Hell, no, you ain’t gettin’ no Harley!” and this is his way of showing her who is boss.

Maybe he’s just a civic-minded citizen doing his part to keep that long strip of concrete sidewalk free of grass. You know how fast it takes over, especially those little runners that hide down in the expansion strips between the driveways and sidewalks. Those babies will get a way from you and in five or six years will completely cover a sidewalk if not scalped out right away.

One of my friends suggested it was a new pizza delivery gimmick. Cut your lawn and deliver a pepperoni special. I wonder if you would have to tip for both the pizza and the lawn trim or only for the pizza.

Whatever the reason is that this guy rides around the block on his mower, he seems to be happy doing it, despite the stares of astounded neighbors. Maybe next time he zooms, oops, what was I thinking, putt-putts past, I’ll dash outside and ask him if I can take ‘er out for a spin. Who knows, I might bring home a pizza, too!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Since when do pepper shakers come with directions?

My friend and I went to a trendy new place today for lunch. We both got trendy new sandwiches, hers on a "multi-grain," mine on "pump." My friend likes pepper on her trendy chicken salad with citrus, but could not figure out how to get the pepper out of the trendy McCormick shaker.

We finally figured out it wasn't a shaker, it was a grinder. She ground and ground. No pepper. She pried off what looked like some sort of cap and a handful of pepper plopped out. Being the expert at mechanical things after having such great success with my lawnmower, I offered to give it a try.

I ground and ground. No pepper. I took off the lid. Pepper plopped out. Duh.We gave up on the pepper grinder since we had enough pepper for at least 10 sandwiches and discretly brushed it onto the floor, into our purses, and the trendy trays that held our trendy sandwiches.

"Pssst," my friend said one octave above discrete, "that old guy behind you just did the same thing, but he shook the pepper grinder over his plate without removing the lid and nothing came out!"

Then I saw directions printed on both the pepper and salt container labels. Directions on how to get the contents out! Both the pepper AND the salt containers were grinders! They both had pictures with directions of how to convert the contents to a less dense form from the glass container, through the grinder, and onto your food. Directions! Salt and pepper "shakers" with directions!

Just remove the "lid," grind over food, and put the lid back on. Well, dang, we could trendy well do that. Well, how trendy, but I bet a pain to refill. Oh, says here they are not to be refilled.

Okay, and when the container is empty, just throw it away? Throw away a perfectly good glass container with this nifty grinder thing that comes with both pictures and printed directions?

How much do these babies cost, anyway? Is that why my trendy sandwich cost $6.95? Would this trendy restaurant knock off maybe a buck if I didn't use the pepper?

Am I so old that I appreciate the simplicy of the old metal containers with the dual purpose lid? Flip up this end and you can slip in a small measuring spoon or pour out the contents. Flip up the lid on the other end and just shake. When empty, recycle the container.

Maybe that's why there is so much frustration in the world. Too dang trendy!

Thoughts from a week ago

Entry for July 31, 2005

This is for the girlfriends -- especially those girlfriends who grew up in the '50s and '60 when men dominated households, businesses and just about the whole world.

I've always felt there was a great male conspiracy to keep women from knowing about things associated with gasoline -- sort of like a secret society. Fathers passed this "knowledge" only to their male children. "Son," the father would say in a solem voice, "today you are about to enter into the secret gasoline society of men."

Prior to self-serve gas pumps, with the exception of a few women, only men were brave and strong enough to wrestle a gallon or so from the brightly painted beasts at "filling" stations. Then came self-serve gas pumps. Men still siddled up to the pumps with confidence. At first, women timidly approaced the pump and perhaps would giggle a bit as they removed the nozzle and inserted it into the openings of their gas tanks. After filling their tanks with the sacred fluid, they drove away thinking, "That's it? That's all there is to pumping gas!? Good grief, four loads of laundry is more complicated than that!"

Now I am about to destroy another myth about small gas engines; in particular, lawn mower engines. If you have a manual with drawings, fixing one that won't start is no harder than laying out a pattern on cloth, cutting it out and constructing a garment.

The "bargain" lawn mower I bought a few years ago developed a leak in the gas tank. After consulting the manual, I ordered the new part, then on a nice afternoon, replaced the gas tank all by myself. Took a few screwdrivers and a bit of time, but I did it without male assistance. I had to go back and redo the connection to the pull handle starter, but I figured out what the problem was and how to fix it.

The other day, despite the lovely new gas tank, the engine stopped. I consulted the manual again. Ah, ha! Air filter. Those things have to be changed every now and then. Could also be the spark plug. They don't last forever.

A quick trip to the store to get the air filter and spark plug and I'm ready to go. One screw -- just one screw -- to remove the panel holding the air filter in place. Took all of five minutes to take out the yucky old one and pop in the pristine new. Took a little longer to break the old spark plug loose, but maybe a whole minute to put the new one in. My total cost was about $6 for both the filter and the plug.

Then came the moment of truth. Varooooom. That baby cranked up an ran like it did when it was brand new. Since I was in the driveway, I tried to not look too smug in case any of the male neighbors were peeping from behind their blinds.

The moral to this story, girlfriends, is that, yes, you can do a lot of things you didn't think you could do. As for the secret gasoline society of men, grab your ceremonial robes and run, boys, we women are taking over the world! (Another subject.)

Entry for July 29, 2005

Teeny tiny type really ticks me off. While talking to a friend the other day, the subject came up about the teeny tiny type that whippersnapper web designers use on their cutesy web pages. I'm convinced they use teeny tiny type as a way of keeping us "mature" folks from seeing what they write; the information is a secret between them and other whippersnappers.

Just what is a whippersnapper anyway? Does it have anything to do with turtles? If a snapping turtle turns it's head quckly to see a fly on a leaf, does that make the turtle a "whippersnapper?"

As for the teeny tiny type, if you have to get close enough to lick the computer screen to see the type, the type is too teeny tiny. I say we send protest emails to the designers of web pages who insist on the teeny tiny type, but instead of normal print or teeny tiny type, send an actual message but use that type face that is all symbols. That'll get 'em. Serves them right.

Damn whippersnappers!