I‘m taking a few days off, but I wouldn’t want you to miss me… or worse… NOT miss me – So here’s an oldie but goodie:
(I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS)
When I was seventeen, my sister’s boyfriend came home from his first semester at a New York acting school.
He had a new word. ”Heavy.” Like in, ”Those jeans are so heavy.”
I was a lifetime proponent of “Cool.” But oh, “Heavy” was so cool.
So I went back to high school, dropping “heavies” all over the hallways. I was very heavy (except that I was 96 lbs, and I feel I need to include that fact, since I adore saying it.)
Then about six months later, on “The Mod Squad”, Linc uttered this emotional phrase: “Heavy, man.”
And I knew it was all over. Back in those days, the term “jumping the shark” hadn’t yet been coined. But the concept was there. If it was already on TV, it was already passe.
And that was the last time I was ahead of the curve on colloquial language.
If I said “cool,” the cool kids said “hot”. Then the hot kids said “fine,” and the fine kids said “smokin’” — and the smokin kids said “sick.”
And I gave up.
I can pretty much guarantee that if I even hear an expression, it’s outdated. If it finds its way out of my mouth, it’s ridiculously old.
For example, my little factoid about being 96 lbs is called a humblebrag. But I am sure it only used to be called a humblebrag. Since I know that word, it’s certainly OUT.
A few weeks ago, a nice blogger suggested very politely that I use PFA instead of the words I did use, “pulled right out of my ass.”
But acronyms are even worse for me that outdated words. Mostly I don’t know what they mean, but if I do know, they are either incredibly dated or make me look like I’m trying to be sixteen. I won’t even use OMG, because I will immediately become (in my mind, and probably in the reader’s mind) a teenybopper airhead. (But I better not say “teenybopper.”) (Or “airhead.”)
I know ROTFLMAO. But I can’t say that every time. Sometimes I am not ROTFLMAO. Sometimes I may just be chuckling a bit under my breath. (CABUMB?)
I read the stuff my cool (hot, smokin–I don’t know anymore) niece posts on Facebook, and it’s full of ” *** ” and “wifeys” and “Bwahahas”, and I guess I can figure it out, but sometimes I’m not sure whether it’s a fabulous (blazin, sick) new expression or a typo.
I’m old. I’m sticking with “Cool.” And I will suppress the urge to respond to TRDMC with LSMFT. (For those notquiteold, that’s “Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco.” ( See?–We had acronyms back in the olden days.)
This is the time of year when my fingernails get as brittle as the dead maples leaves. Luckily, they do not fall off like the leaves on our New England trees. But they snap and break like the dried-up twigs I’m stepping on.
Housework this weekend broke eight out of ten fingernails. You’d think I’d been clawing the carpets clean.
So Sunday night I sat down and tried to fix them up a little. I filed and buffed away and tried my best to have them all come in at a consistent length, although I ended up with two shorties. One of these days I’m going to get the acrylic version. You are probably surprised that I haven’t done so already, being the devoted fashionista that I am. I am as perplexed as you are. I don’t know why the nail salon isn’t on my speed-dial. Can you type with those things?
Anyway, after I was done, I figured it would be a good idea to add a bit of moisturizer to my raggedy cinderella cuticles. And I remembered that I had some cuticle cream in what I call the medicine cabinet, but what is clearly the makeup cabinet. This cream came as part of a set I received as a gift, (“Gift with Purchase” but still a gift. I had to keep it.)
So I opened the ancient little tube, and the product had separated. I think cuticle cream should have a life-span longer than nine years, don’t you?) And two big globs of oil spurted out and fell onto the knee of my jeans. Yikes.
Now these are not my very best skinny jeans that cost a month’s pay. But they are still very good jeans. And from a company that caters to its customers by sizing their clothing extremely generously. So these jeans are a size four. And so I love them very much.
And now I have oil on them. I immediately got out the Spray and Wash. the Shout-It-Out, and the grease-cutting dish detergent – the special detergent I use on the carpet when the cat throws up. That should work.
Only it didn’t. I scrubbed and rinsed and scrubbed and rinsed. And when the jeans dried, I still had two grease spots on the knee.
Some people say baby powder. Some recommend vinegar. Some baking soda. In the past, I’ve tried them all. Grease is eternal.
I was full of remorse for ever opening that damned cuticle cream. My cuticles really aren’t that bad. No one would ever think I’ve been tortured. Although they may think I wash my clothes on a rock by the river.
But as I was getting ready for bed, and taking off my eye-makeup with baby oil, I had an epiphany.
Baby Oil is cheap. Especially the kind I buy.
Instead of trying to get the oil spots out of my jeans, why don’t I just soak the jean in some baby oil, and get them completely oil-soaked? Then they’d go into the washer and dryer and come out one consistent color.
And they’ll be nice and soft. And I bet my thighs and tushie will be nice and soft too.
Only – do you think I might leave oily marks wherever I sit? And if so, for how many years?
I stopped today on a busy street to let some poor schmuck get out of his driveway. A whole bunch of memories drove off with him.
When I was a little kid, I lived in a three-family house. My Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Bo and their three kids lived on the first floor. We – Mom and Dad and four kids – were on the second floor. And Grandma (my father and Aunt Evelyn’s mother) lived in the small attic apartment.
Our house was painted yellow and green – first floor yellow and top floors green. Two-color multifamily homes were very common in central Connecticut. And I loved the paint scheme. I remember feeling sorry for my friend who lived in a brown house.
I can’t seem to find any pictures of that old house. It still stands today, but I would not take a photo today – it is so transformed – and not in a good way.
But here is a photo of a house amazingly similar to the one we lived in. In the original photo, the house is brown and yellow. I’ve photoshopped (amateurly, I will admit) in my beloved green.
As an aside – the house that had the telephone ghost was originally beige. When we repainted a few years after moving in, we chose yellow. The color turned out a bit brighter than it looked on the little card. Our neighbors said they needed sunglasses to drive by.
And our house now – is BROWN! Cedar shingles, actually, but how is that for the evolution of taste?
But back to our yellow-and-green house.
I loved everything about that house. The heavy varnish on the floors. The big flowered wallpaper. The pantry off the kitchen. The clotheslines from the back porch to corner of the yard. But there was something about that house that drove the adults crazy.
On the right side of the house there was a very narrow driveway. The photo I posted of my first communion gives you a glimpse.
Because this picture was taken on a Sunday, there’s something missing.
Across the street from our yellow-and-green house was this:
That’s our front yard, with my Mom on the left and Aunt Evelyn on the right. And behind them is New Departure, the biggest factory in Bristol, Connecticut. Across the street. And I know that this photo was also taken on a Sunday because the same thing is missing as is missing from the driveway photo.
When you live across the street from a big, busy factory, there is a LOT of traffic.
Hence the adult aggravation.
Because for most of the time we lived there, there were three cars: My Uncle Bo’s – which was usually a huge station wagon. (See it behind us – looming hearse-like behind the communion picture?) And my Dad’s – something long with fins. And my Mom’s – anything inexpensive to get her back and forth to work.
So with a narrow driveway on a busy street, parking took mucho coordination.
Because at the end of the day, when everyone got home, the driveway looked like this:
Uncle Bo worked an early shift and got home first. Then my Mom came home. Then Dad.
But in the morning, Uncle Bo needed to go to work first. My cousin Susan says that he couldn’t bear the thought of ever being late, so he liked to be at work a little early – like ninety minutes or so. Then my dad left for work. Then my Mom followed shortly after.
So the cars needed to be like this for the morning:
So every single weeknight the cars had to be rearranged. And you couldn’t even attempt it during the shift change at the factory. No one in our house EVER left the driveway during shift change. But after dinner, you could manage to pull out if you were quick and had nerves of steel.
And it took some planning.
Dad would pull out. If he was lucky enough to get a big break in the traffic, he would pull out into the opposite lane. But usually he pulled out into the near right hand lane and drove around the block. Then Mom backed out her car – also into the right hand lane. If traffic was light and she could wait at the curb, she would. But that hardly ever happened, so she also drove around the block. Then Uncle Bo backed out his big wagon and drove around several blocks – to ensure he got back last. Dad would wait on the side street for Mom to get back so she could pull in first. Then he’d park behind her. And then Uncle Bo would get back from his excursion and be the last one in.
Every night. Rain. Snow. Whatever. They would perform the ‘Musical Chairs With Cars’ routine.
And I learned a couple of useful Life Lessons from witnessing this never-ending production.
1. Get ready for work the night before. It makes the morning so much easier.
2. Cooperation is important to get stuff done. And it doesn’t hurt to have an agreed-upon plan.
3. Every day of your adult life, there’s annoying shit you have to do. So what? Just do it.
An old post for Halloween:
Many years ago, my husband and I bought an old house. Built around 1840, we didn’t know too much about its history.
We did know about one lady who lived there. Her grandson, now our age, was our neighbor. She must have been a pretty nice Grandma, because Jim didn’t really want us to change a thing about the house. Or the porch. Or the driveway. Or the sidewalk.
“My Grandma always had her refrigerator on THIS wall,” he told me once.
As mildly interfering as he was, when we had trouble with the well, Jim walked over to a spot in the yard and said, “Dig here.” And sure enough, there was the well.
When we first moved in, we noticed something odd about the phone. Once in a while, instead of all the phones in the house ringing, only the extension in the kitchen would ring.
Most of the time, there would be no one there when we answered. But once in a while, there was a garbled voice, as if we were listening in on someone else’s call from a distance.
After a while we learned that if only the kitchen phone was ringing, we shouldn’t bother to pick it up.
But that’s when the phone started to speak.
It would ring and ring, and we’d ignore it.
And then it would start saying, ”Hello? Hello?”
But we hadn’t picked it up.
I began to think that Jim’s Grandma was trying to speak to us. The house had a lot of owners in all those years, but most of them wouldn’t have been familiar with telephones. Maybe Grandma wanted us to put the refrigerator back on the south wall.
I’m not into creepy movies, so I don’t know that much about ghosts. But I figured it would be wise to be polite.
When the phone would start to say ”Hello? Hello?” I’d just say aloud, in the general direction of the ceiling:
“I’m sorry. But I’m really busy, so I just can’t talk right now.”
After about a year, she stopped calling.
We moved away several years ago – into a house we built ourselves. No feng shui ghosts.
But our old neighbors don’t particularly like the family that moved in. They wish those new folks would move out.
Maybe Grandma could make a phone call.
It’s time for another installment of Know-It-All, where I offer you the best of my unsolicited and usually obvious advice -
First – because I am an unapologetic smarty-pants,
Second – because they say that you should stick with what you do best – and I am much better at giving advice than taking it.
So here goes:
- If someone tells you that you look great – go right to a mirror and check it out. Sometimes it’s very difficult to see yourself clearly, so it’s a very helpful to rely on your friends, family and co-workers. After all, they don’t want you to look bad. So when they say you look nice, they are trying to steer you in the right direction. So take a look. Is it the color you are wearing, the cut or fit, does your hair look particularly nice? Believe them.
- And speaking of compliments, pay some yourself. And I am not talking about being a suck-up. But I have found that every single day there is at least one opportunity (and usually more) to pay someone a sincere compliment. Recognize those occasions – and say so. And not just “great sweater” – although that’s very nice to hear (see above). But think about how nice it is to hear “great question” “I like your enthusiasm” or my favorite: “You make me laugh.”
- If you don’t like the book you are reading, stop reading it. There are so many fabulous books out there, don’t feel guilty about abandoning one that doesn’t move you. School is the exception to this rule. If it’s required reading – then slog through it. And try to figure out what someone else may see in it. It’s good discipline. But by all means – outside of classroom assignments – read what you love. And don’t be embarrassed either if others don’t feel your reading material is classy enough. You are reading. That already puts you ahead of 100% of the folks in front of the TV.
- And if you like TV: Don’t be embarrassed about that either. TV is relaxing. TV is great social currency. And once in a while, TV is even good.
- Back to education. (and back to people trying to steer you in the right direction): Your teachers are not trying to fool you. If you are sitting in class, just looking out the window or doodling (and I spent most of college doing one or the other), and you hear the teacher say, “This is important” – Write it down! Draw a star in the textbook! If you are under 30, and you only know one way to remember a quote, by all means, get that tattoo! Because if the teacher thinks it is important, I guarantee you it will be on the test.
- And with regards to tests: Don’t EVER answer the question, “If I died, would you re-marry?” There is no right answer. Do not attempt that treacherous minefield.
- Which leads us to death. Go to wakes and funerals. Don’t tell yourself that it doesn’t matter if you don’t go. Your presence is so noticed. And appreciated. You need to care that someone you know has lost someone they love. Pay your respects. And please show your respect too. Dress up. Don’t look like you are on your way to the gym.
- And let’s circle back to reading. Don’t worry so much about bilingual signage. If you speak English, and the sign is in English, does it really matter to you what other language it might be in? Why would you want other people to be confused? Having as many people as possible understand directions is to your advantage too. I mean, you’re already suffering at the Motor Vehicle Department. Do you really want 20% of everybody else to be in the wrong line?
One of my Dad’s favorite expressions was “You must have been hiding behind the barn when the brains got handed out.”
I never really understood why someone would hide in order to avoid brains. But I got the point. I always seemed to miss something important.
I knew by the age of fifteen that I must have been hiding behind the barn when the boobies got handed out.
And there have been lots of cultural changes that seemed to have happened while I was behind the barn.
As I mentioned recently – I missed that moment in time when spaghetti became pasta.
- When did potatoes become starch? When did meat become protein?
- And when did pocketbooks become handbags?
- When did quilts become duvets? (And how do you keep the inside part of the duvet from bunching up at the end of the outer duvet?)
- When exactly did station wagons become SUVs? Or minivans? What makes a minivan mini anyway? They look pretty big to me.
- When did rouge become blush? When did moisturizer become BB cream? When did BB cream become CC cream? When is DD coming out?
- When did water become something you buy?
- When did beer transition from Schlitz to Boutique?
- And when did self-centered demanding bitches become divas? And why is it okay for little girls to want to become one?
And - at the risk of getting too serious (which I almost never am):
- When did warfare become conventional?
- When did compromise become a dirty word?
- When did we forget about poor people?
I wrote recently that I suffered from what I call Autoagnosia. I can’t tell one car from another.
This drives my husband crazy, as he feels that cars are the ultimate gift from heaven. And I am just completely ungrateful – an insult really to the auto gods.
So I’ve been trying really hard to recognize all the different makes and models.
You know how they tell you to use fun associations to help you remember names? Yeah? Well, that doesn’t work. I never remember anyone’s name.
But I do recognize faces. (I can’t always attach a name, but at least I know that I know them. “Hi!” I say. How ARE you?” And I hope they don’t realize that I will never be able to tell my husband who I ran into.)
But- undaunted – I started looking at car faces, in the hopes that I can tell my husband who I ran into. But not literally, of course.
And it works. Cars have faces that I am starting to recognize.
See how many cars I can name now! No more Autoagnosia.
And when my husband asks me what kind of car a friend drives, I can say.
“Oh, He drives the Slightly Stressed-Out.”
Except of course at night -
When I can say,
“Exactly like ours!”
Everyone has those moments – when you hear or see something – that suddenly gives you insight into your own nature.
I’ve heard it called an “aha moment” – and that expression really fits. ”Aha! That’s why I’m me.”
For instance, when I was a kid, I went through a short phase where I had horrible nightmares. No one knew why. I was so terrified by these recurring nightmares (which I don’t even remember now) that I refused to go to bed. I had to be sedated every night for weeks. Years later, talking to my sisters one day about movies, I said that I didn’t like scary movies, especially about the supernatural. “Yeah,” they said, “we used to love to tell you ghost stories because you were so easy to scare.” Aha.
Sometimes, though, the Aha is a nice one.
This is my dad walking me down the aisle on my wedding day.
I may have been a 40-year-old bride, but I was a first-time bride, and I was determined to wear a traditional wedding gown and veil. I was extremely excited to get to be a bride after all those years. But I didn’t shop much for a gown. I saw this gown (a discontinued sample, by the way, at a great price) – and I had to have it. All those years waiting to be a bride and I only tried on two gowns. If you’ve ever watched “Say Yes To The Dress” – you probably know that trying on about 85 gowns is not unusual. But I wanted this gown immediately. It took about ten minutes to buy this dress. I spend more time now picking nail polish.
I didn’t know what appealed to me so much about this particular dress. It wouldn’t be what I would choose today. I’d definitely go for something more sophisticated.
And just this week, looking through old family photos, I came upon a picture of my Uncle George’s wedding. I was about seven when Uncle George married Aunt Pat. It is the first wedding that I remember attending. I thought it was the best event ever. Aunt Pat was the first bride I ever saw. She was so beautiful.
Here’s the photo I found:
Recognize the dress? Aha.
And I had another Aha moment this week too. One that explains a whole lot about my own personality. Why I am who I am.
I had my weekly dinner with my mother. And over our McDoubles, (she’s a cheap date), I was showing her the latest pictures posted on Facebook. She loves to check out Facebook on my iPhone. And there’s a Facebook page for people from my hometown – where they all reminisce about the good old days. And someone put up this picture:
And oh, I remembered it right away. It was the largest factory in Bristol Connecticut – New Departure. (I love that name, by the way – what a great name for a company.) And I knew this view without even having to think about it – I lived across the street.
And my mother smiled as soon as she saw it too.
And she said:
“When we moved there, I was about twenty-eight years old. With three little babies – you were a newborn when we moved in. I was trying really hard to be a good mother. And every time I stepped out the door, all the guys from the factory would hang out the window. And they would hoot and holler and whistle. I know that today that’s considered really awful …. harassment even … but you know…secretly…I loved it.”
I have a pain. It is a fist clenching.
Only it is not a fist. It is my chest clenching.
Many parts of me reside in my chest.
Located right here, for instance, is my heart.
I’m not panicking which could be worse
But I’m not denying the fist in my chest.
I’ve had tests. Doctors have measured me
Walking and running and watching electrical lines…
Several years ago – about 52, to be honest – I was helping myself to some pasta at a family dinner.
I have to digress a bit here. It wasn’t pasta. I never heard the word ‘pasta’ until decades later. We did not eat pasta in the 50s and 60s. We had Spaghetti or Macaroni. Period. I am not quite sure when Spaghetti became Pasta.
Okay, back to the story. I was grabbing a bowl of spaghetti. I carefully measured a half-teaspoon of grated cheese, as one of my aunts watched.
“I can see that you like the IDEA of cheese more than the cheese itself,” she remarked.
You may wonder how I can remember so clearly such a minor comment made over 50 years ago. Because I hated when grown-ups made fun of me, that’s why.
But now that I’m so much more…mature… and can take criticism so much more…maturely…
I can actually see the truth of that small observation.
There are quite a few things that I like the IDEA of a lot more than the thing itself.
Before I met my husband, I had a boyfriend with a boat. It was extremely appealing (one of the only appealing things about him, as a matter of fact). Until I spent some time on his boat. He spent most weekends in the marina, working obsessively on the boat, while I tried to prepare dinner in Munchkinland kitchen with two lukewarm burners and a dirty microwave, pretending to ignore the bilgey marina smell. Once in a very great while, we managed to actually take the boat out of the marina, and we went for a ride. Which made me slightly nauseated for the rest of the day. And the day after.
(and by the way, I briefly – very briefly – dated a guy with a plane. Huge bragging rights. Lots of throwing up.)
How cute are one-piece outfits? Unless of course you have to sit down. Then there doesn’t seem to be quite enough material in between your shoulders and your crotch. Ouchey. And you should never try to go to the bathroom in one of those, as you have to peel off the top half, but it’s connected so it just dangles there – with the sleeves drawn by some scientific magnetism to the toilet bowl.
Aroma: Wonderful. The baseball in your belly that lasts for hours: Not so much.
I will make an exception here for my Aunt Evelyn’s donuts. They were amazing. But that was more than 50 years ago, too. Dunkin Donuts does NOT have her recipe.
(And how come, by the way, microwave popcorn smells so good and tastes so ordinary?)
Jazz is the intellectual snob of music. It’s for the thoughtful, educated, sophisticated. And since I am all those things, I’ve really tried to like it. But it makes my teeth hurt. And I challenge you to find a Jazz song that doesn’t sound exactly like the one I just tried to listen to.
And speaking of music, at the risk of Rock ‘N Roll blasphemy, I don’t like Buddy Holly. Too chirpy. (Oh, what a relief to finally say that…)
And also in the Music category:
It’s so exciting to buy tickets to see your favorite artist. Sharing his music with you, live and personal. Except that you are in the third balcony and you end up watching him on a big screen, otherwise he’s just a blurry little dot getting blotted out by the cell phone of the dude in front of you. And then you have to miss 35 minutes of the little dot waiting in line for the bathroom.
I was a Lit major in college. I love books. But come on, 1,440 pages of heavy tragedy? Too heavy for me. I just can’t carry that around. Or even hold it for very long. And yes, I could read “War and Peace” on a Kindle. But then who would know I am reading a huge complex book? Kind of diminishes the only thing I like about Russian novels.
Let me circle back to my original experience with the IDEA over the REALITY. Because I was at a party then, and I know now that Parties are the epitome of things that are better as ideas. I love anticipating a great party, planning an outfit, preparing witty quips, putting on a second layer of makeup and fancy jewelry. And then I get there, and realize that I am overdressed. And too shy to talk to anyone. And wonder how soon I can go home and watch TV.
And PICNICS are worse! Whoever thought it would be fun to make eleven trips carrying all the food outside so you can swat flies while you eat it balanced on your lap on plates that slowly become part of the food they are holding? Who thought that was a great idea?