Sunday, July 31, 2011

Congressional Cat Fight

My two cats, both having resided with me since the beginning of time, hate each other. Actually, hate is too mild a word: They despise one another with murderous and malicious malevolence, each feeling for the other only rancor and a smoldering ill will, each planning harmful, corrosive, and implacable acts of resentment aimed at the other.  Nasty swipes growled in passing often erupt into full-blown fights. Sound familiar?

The other night on national TV, Chuck Schumer, the senior United States Senator from New York and a leading member of the Democratic Party, in discussing the current debt crisis hissed that "the Republicans can't even tie their own shoes." Unless there really are a lot of unshod Republicans running around Washington, his comment seemed over the top.

As for the cats-- and the two political parties-- you would think the jealousy experienced by the first one towards the interloper would have subsided by now, but it seems only to worsen. This morning, enjoying the inherent quiet of a Sunday and looking forward to the Times magazine crossword puzzle, with the enticing coffee aroma filling the air and the birds in the yard chirping happily, piercing caterwauls filled the air. The two were engaged in mortal combat behind the living room sofa. Separating them was difficult, but finally achieved, whereupon both of them were ejected into the surrounding forest so we could get a little peace and quiet around here. If only we could do that with the members of Congress.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Looking for a Shoulder to Cry On

The old joke is that if men were the ones who had all the babies, everyone would be an only child. For indisputable proof I present my husband, a.k.a The Jewish Patient.

When The Jewish Patient has a cold, or god forbid a million times the flu, it's as if he has an incurable and painful and terminal--I know I already said incurable but I cannot stress this enough--disease: The moaning, the wailing, the constant complaining, and that's just when he's coming down with it. By the time it's full-blown, with a fever and upset stomach just to make my life a living hell, his suffering knows no bounds.

Forced into the role of Florence Nightingale on our wedding day by that business about "in sickness and in health," I tend to him with the tissues and the lozenges and the hot tea with honey and lemon and the ice water and the heating pads and the extra pillows, all the while thinking, "Please God, don't let this man ever get really sick." Well, now he needs an operation on his torn rotator cuff and I'm hoping to go deaf before his surgery. The moaning, the wailing, the constant complaining, and this is three weeks before the surgery; what will it be like after?

In hopes of finding a superior physician who will not mess up and cause my husband to A, complain forever or B, always walk with a limp, I have turned my attention towards finding the best shoulder surgeon east of the Rockies. Happily, I located a group of specialists associated with Harvard University-- each one of them God's Gift To Shoulders--a mere two-hour drive from where we live, and suggested The Jewish Patient see one of them. He said that I am making too big a deal about this and that he'd rather see the guy whose office is only 12 minutes away right here in Maine, "America's Vacationland."

Oy vay.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Oh, To Be a Cop in Maine

The following items are printed verbatim from the Police Beat column in our local newspaper, the Northern Forecaster:

FALMOUTH, 7/20 at 2:31 p.m. A caller reported a teenage boy missing when he did not return from a paintball trip with friends. An officer responded and suggested the parents call the boy's cell phone. He reportedly answered and said he was OK.

YARMOUTH, 7/19 at 8:45 a.m. A resident contacted police to report an injured porcupine at the Royal River Park. A few minutes later, the resident called police again to report the animal had died. According to police, the animal control officer arrived at the park and identified the animal as a woodchuck. 

FREEPORT, 7/18 at 10:34 p.m. Police were notified of a sick or injured raccoon on Lower Flying Point Road at the L. L. Bean outdoor paddling facility. The matter was addressed and the animal was removed by an officer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gatsby Had Problems Too

Members of the middle class who hate the rich hide their jealousy behind good intentions: they worry about the poor, they pity the poor. They declare loudly that the rich are mean-spirited and evil, all the while coveting their lucre. They beseech the government to strip the rich of their wealth, no matter if it was hard-earned. They assume the poor to be generous and loving folk, scraping their fingers to the bone to feed their families, and imagine the rich as heartlessly, laughingly tossing their heads back as they drink their scotch and bourbon on their fabulous yachts or partying until dawn inside their grand summer homes in The Hamptons and beyond. They do this without actually knowing any rich or any poor, instead blindly judging them based on media reports and commentary by TV personalities Jon Stewart and Bill Maher, both millionaires from selling that particular schtick.

I was born into America's lower middle class; like everyone, I had nothing to do with my station in life at birth. (Rich babies are no less innocent than poor babies.) I am fortunate enough to now be on the higher end of the middle class, mostly because I married an overachieving, smart and dedicated, type-A workaholic, also born into the lower middle class, who thrives on productivity and has been rewarded over the years for his innate drive and ambition by generous employers who have regarded him as a valuable asset.

So now I get to drive a new Saab instead of a beat up old Chevy and my husband drives a used SUV which he is working on beating up. (We have both been labeled as gas guzzlers, although my car does quite well in the mileage department.) Should we feel guilty for this? Should I do more than give to charity and engage in volunteerism? What should I do, what could I do, that would assuage the bleeding-hearts? Should my husband work for less pay, or perhaps give all his earnings to those we call poor? That doesn't seem fair.

Oh, wait a minute, I know what. I could say ad nauseum how much I hate those horrible rich Republicans, that would probably be enough. And maybe I could display bumper stickers on my Prius hybrid telling the world that I, in particular, am against genocide in Darfur, like everybody and their mother doesn't feel that way. And lawn signs, yeah, I could get a lot of lawn signs saying I'm against the war and in favor of wind power and against using pesticides and pro-abortion and against drilling in Alaska and in favor of taxing the rich, yeah, most especially, tax the rich! That should do it.

Calling All Americans

Everywhere you look, America is losing ground: The dollar is a joke, the Russians beat us in space, and yesterday three Chinese deep-sea divers went deeper than we ever have, surpassing us in underwater exploration. What's worse, we aren't even the fattest nation anymore since Kuwait has overeaten us to the top tubby spot.

Depressed by the fact that I no longer live in the greatest country in the world, which is what my parents always told me growing up--"You were lucky enough to be born in the greatest country in the world and you will eat every last one of those beets, young lady!"--I went searching for proof of continued American dominance in any area. Happily, I found it: Besides having the highest documented incarceration rate in the world, we are the leaders in smartphone technology. I witnessed the latter firsthand at a business dinner I attended recently with my husband and some of his colleagues and their spouses, all here for a work retreat.

There were nine of us at a restaurant touted as among the best in Portland. Despite that, it was slow going getting served, but instead of having to rely on old-fashioned conversation, we were treated to a virtual slide show at the table! Within seconds of placing our orders, the three other women whipped out their iPhones and started passing them around like 3-D glasses at an IMAX theater.  I saw fabulous pictures, many worthy of National Geographic, of grandiose vacations and memorable graduations, of weddings inside and out, of children and newborn grandchildren, and a couple of foreign exchange students thrown in for good measure. It was great--I hardly had to say anything clever at all, just nod and murmur things like "wow" and "she's sooo pretty!" And by the time our entrees showed up I felt like I had known them all for years, despite us having just met a day or two before.

Charlene's phone was the best--it even had a flashlight capability so in case you lost your keys or were sitting around a campfire and needed to find the marshmallows, you were good to go. I was so embarrassed that all my dumbphone can do is ring.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Two Faces of Facebook

I love Facebook because it lets me see what my son, who lives in another city, is up to. Sometimes there is a new photo of him happy and smiling, apparently enjoying himself, and this makes my day. And he has so many friends, which also makes my day, even though I know that among the 713 of them you could count the ones who really matter on one hand-- and you wouldn't need to use the thumb or the ring finger or the pinky.

I hate Facebook because it sows untruth. If you know people in the real world and you know what is really going on in their sordid, seedy, depressing and duplicitous lives, then when you read their perky posts with all the smiley faces and the multiple exclamation points it can actually make you sick.  Facebook World is a happy place where people post great photos of interesting places: Everyone has just had a fabulous time somewhere! They are all living interesting lives!! They love their friends who are the best, and they post positive slogans and uplifting aphorisms and proverbs and quotes from the Dalai Lama to help you get through your day!!!! Their kids are all brilliant and beautiful!!!!!! You never hear about their teenagers smoking pot or getting drunk or failing in school!!!!!!!

I love Facebook because it helps forge new friendships with complete strangers, like former high school classmates who you never spoke one word to back then but who enhance the quality of your life today, or your husband's nephews who are mean Scrabble players and also enlighten you politically. 

I hate Facebook because it lets people pretend they are smarter or funnier or nicer or more athletic than they really are. For example, that bit about the ring finger in my opening paragraph: I did not make that up, I read it somewhere and thought it was clever.

I have tried to quit Facebook but then I feel left out, even though I know that it's mostly a crock, for show, and all about appearances. Another thing I do on Facebook is post my blog, which you are reading right now and found on Facebook so I know it works, helping me feel like I am a part of society even though I am mostly reclusive inside my beautiful house in Maine!! I love it here!!!! I walk to the water every day and there are trees and birds and flowers everywhere!!!!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Something to Live For

Try as I might, it's getting harder and harder to be funny. About a dozen years ago, back when I wrote a weekly humor column for a Salt Lake City daily, the jokes came fast and easy; all I had to do was look around my house. With an adolescent son and several unruly pets under my roof, everyday life for a Jewish family in Mormon territory provided easy access to humor.

These days my son is grown, my dog is dead, and there's nary a missionary in sight. Mainers pretty much keep to themselves and the post-9/11 world is hardly amusing. Terrorism, global warming and world-wide economic woes reinforce a shared downward spiral of the spirit. This past weekend's horrific mass shooting, in peaceful little Norway of all places, spotlights the fact that things are bad all over and getting worse.

So I was greatly relieved to read in today's Wall Street Journal that plans are afoot for a new daytime TV talk show that will surely be side-splitting. I can hardly wait for September 12, when "Anderson" debuts on CNN. Its producers promise it will "persuade America that Mr. Cooper has a softer side" and prove that he can "dig deep into the emotional side of stories and do more than simply cover breaking news," and isn't that really what we want from our journalists? I'm marking my calendar, how about you?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dead Celebrities

Amy Winehouse was a British singer with big hair who wore a lot of dark eye makeup. I never heard her music or saw her perform, yet her death from a drug overdose made the front page of the New York Times. No doubt her music will now be played much more frequently, at least for a few weeks, and we will certainly read more articles and see footage on TV news shows about how great she was.

Honestly, I don't care a whit about her. I did care about Janis Joplin, another 27-year-old singer who overdosed long ago, back in my own youth, so I understand that Amy's fans are sad today. But I care much more about all those young people murdered on that Norwegian island by a crazed shooter with a political agenda, and we will never know anything about them.

I hope Amy will just die, and not hang on or even gain strength posthumously, like many celebrities do. Some of them, like Elvis and Marilyn, Anna Nicole Smith and Princess Di, and even James Dean, who was only famous for less than a year when he crashed his car, keep hanging around here. There's nothing worse than a dead celebrity dominating the news, if you ask me.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Other People's Problems

I just read about a man whose wife and three young daughters were swept away in a flash flood while he looked on. Then I read about the shooter in Norway who took the lives of about 90 people yesterday, with the death toll still mounting. Then I read about a woman who was driving home in a thunderstorm and a tree crashed though her windshield and impaled her in her right eye and exited behind her left eye. Then I stopped reading and decided to make another pot of coffee.

What can we do about the horrors that befall others? Nothing. Not one thing. And crying about it, which is my standard reaction, doesn't help. The worst part is that hearing all those terrible things does not make my allergic reactions to mosquito bites any easier to bear, or make my hot, un-air-conditioned house any cooler, or make my husband's impending shoulder surgery any less frightening. And shouldn't it?

And speaking of my husband--Mitch is relatively new to running and he ran his first official race this morning. It was great fun to cheer him on and see him cross the finish line. It's a little less fun now, but still I'm sure I'll remember his first race long after I've forgotten all those bad things that happened to other people. And that's really a shame.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Happy Friggin' Birthday Again

My husband's birthday is this Sunday and all I have to say is "big whoop." After 25 years of marriage, I won't be pulling an all-nighter with the homemade cards and the baking. As for gifts, I already got him everything he needs years ago. Fortunately--for both of us-- our dear friend Gabby is a sensational baker and she's coming through with a cake, and I love her for that. But I must say that after a while birthdays get old, no pun intended. I mean, every year on that same date, you have to say "happy birthday," as if that's so original. And if you don't say it you are scum, and then the next day or a week later you see the person and you have to say you're sorry you forgot their birthday, like it's a federal holiday, and you hope it was happy.

Also, I have never understood why we celebrate the person who was born that day and not the woman who gave birth. In this particular case with my husband that woman is dead, so I would be totally off the hook, but many women with children are still alive and I think they deserve the gifts and the congratulations just for going through the whole ordeal.

Anyway, I got Mitch some presents I know for sure he won't like but too bad--it's a long story--and a card he might actually like, but none of that matters; at least that cake will be dynamite! I know because Gabby made the same one for my birthday. She's the greatest--maybe I'll get her a gift.

Disaster in High Heels

With so many great minds excelling in the fields of medicine, science, business, education and entertainment, it's sad that we are forced to consider the possibility of Michele Bachmann as our leader. In desperation, her opponents are now attacking her high heel-induced migraine headaches, suggesting they could interfere with her carrying out the duties of the President. How ridiculous, when she has so many other flaws that make her unsuitable to spend one more second in pursuit of this lofty goal.

Perhaps the most offensive one was foreshadowed in 2004, when Bachmann stated publicly, "We need to have profound compassion for people who are dealing with the very real issue of sexual dysfunction in their life and sexual identity disorders.” I suppose that means she is extra nice to her own husband, a prancing flamer who could be Harvey Fierstein's understudy in Torch Song Trilogy. Together, the couple owns a Christian counseling center with a focus on curing homosexuality.

Media reports say Bachmann's anti-gay stance "has outraged liberals and alienated moderate Republicans, while endearing her to many conservative Christians."  As for the rest of us, there is still time! Surely we can do better than scraping the bottom of the political barrel by inducing others to run for office. I'm not proud of this, but I must make the old headache joke: Sorry Michele, not tonight. Not any night.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cheeseburger, French Fries, McDonald's

I am feeling somewhat nauseous, as if I'd just eaten a double cheeseburger and a large order of french fries at McDonald's. I did not. Instead, I spent too long reading some of the Bloggers of Note, designated as such by the powers that be at Blogger, which is the name of the "whatever it is" that allows me to have this blog. See, I don't even know the right lingo, and therein lies the problem. From what I can tell, my word choices are poor and my topics are too esoteric. I lack universality. I am, in fact, no McDonald's double cheeseburger, and certainly not their french fries. I have to face this ugly truth once again: Just like in high school, I'm not part of the "in crowd."

Back then I was less interested in being popular and more interested in doing what I wanted, when I wanted, either by myself or with one of my two offbeat best friends who also marched to a different drummer. Sometimes the three of us might go to McDonald's for a cheeseburger and french fries, although you'd be more likely to find us at the Oasis Diner eating lox and bagels.  But now I'm 65 and being popular seems more important, especially when it translates into people reading my blog and my making money per click and maybe even not having to accept menial writing jobs like creating fake questions from imaginary patients for plastic surgery websites. I mean really, how low can you go?

So perhaps when I find time between eating cheeseburgers at McDonald's and eating french fries at McDonald's, I will try to write a post that appeals to the masses instead of just to my sophisticated coterie of fans who are similarly independent-minded. I will choose a topic with wide appeal and load it up with key words and SEO labels.

Let me know if you spot it.

Overcoming Addiction

I am shocked and dismayed to learn that my blog should have much more traffic than it does. Apparently this is because I have not publicly declared myself as overcoming an addiction, which would guarantee me many readers with the same addiction who are hoping to learn from my experience.  This sucks, since I do actually have an addiction I am trying to overcome, one which is harming me in ways as yet unknown but is definitely impacting my self-esteem and robbing me of the respect of my husband.

My name is Andrea and I'm addicted to watching QVC and HSN and some other ones whose initials I don't even know. I don't buy anything-- I just watch, which is even worse and must make me some kind of perverted, voyeuristic non-shopper.

I love how ugly the clothes are, and how inane the descriptions, and how bad the models, many of whom are quite tubby, look in the clothes. I smirk at the handbags, huge and bejeweled and in unnatural colors for leather, none of which I would be caught dead carrying. I can sit there and watch for a long time--usually late at night when I can't sleep--my mouth agape as the clock ticks down and the loquacious saleswoman warns me that there are only 300 left of a particular item in a particular size or color. I laugh at this, as if anyone would buy such crap!

I know this sounds imperious and snobby, but that's all part of my problem. It started in early childhood when my mother, who didn't drive until I was a teenager, would take me on the bus to do simple errands. "We don't belong here," she would mutter under breath as we boarded the bus and found seats away from the hoi-polloi. She was haughty, and now I'm haughty. I can't help myself, but I am trying to change. Pity me, don't hate me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Heart Attack-ack-ack in a Box

Just in case your kids aren't fat yet, rest easy--they will be soon.

In a bold business move, the Nestle Company, which owns Toll House cookies, recently bought DiGiorno Pizza from Kraft Foods. To celebrate, they came up with a new product that not only tastes great but will ultimately help with population control. It must have taken some great minds many long hours to come up with it, but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense: DiGiorno Pizza with Toll House cookies. In one box. One small step for man--one giant step for mankind.

Things Are Bad All Over

I woke up happy, fed the cats, made some coffee and opened up my newspaper, whereupon the following headlines assaulted me:
"Debt Worries Roil Markets"
"Investors Fear Contagion of Greek Crisis, U. S. Debt Stalemate"
"Cattle Contamination Scare Spreads in Japan"
"Earthquake Risks Probed at U. S. Nuclear Plants"

And my husband wonders why I'm a nervous wreck. The awful truth is that the truth is awful, and when it isn't, the editors make it sound that way. As if war and famine and floods and murder were not enough, even the normal ups and downs of our weather are twisted to increase our panic and sell advertising, not to mention toilet paper. Every summer we hear so much about dangerous heat waves blanketing the nation in misery, with blistering heat and soaring temperatures cooking up the elderly and boiling babies in the back seats of cars, that we almost forget that soon enough we'll be in the grips of dangerous cold spells, with deadly ice storms and piling snow drifts causing car accidents and power outages and leaving old people frozen to death inside their unheated homes.

But in today's paper, the scariest story of all was found on the back page of the second section: "Charlie Sheen Gets Sitcom Deal." 

 Now that's scary.

Monday, July 18, 2011

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Finally, my friend Debra will get her way: For years she has implored me to stop watching TV, and now I'll have to, at least for the better part of this week. Seems our cable provider has "upgraded" our service by the addition of a digital converter box that has to be connected to the TV in order for us to get a signal.

The box arrived several weeks ago and has been an obstacle in the kitchen, the dining room, the living room and the entrance hall, moved from place to place by either me or my husband, who promised he would connect it as soon as he got that very necessary "round to-it." Of course he never did, and now he's in Chicago for the next three days. Fortunately our dear friend Ira was visiting and he hooked it up in short order, assuring me that all was working fine as he pulled out of the driveway and headed home to Manhattan.

Yada, yada, yada--the TV now does not work at all. I called Comcast, the cable company, and spoke with a succession of robots until I finally qualified for a human. She spoke with an incomprehensible accent and was virtually useless, but who knows-- she might have been helpful if I had understood her.  At the end of our attempted conversation she said I could expect a follow-up phone call about her performance and she hoped I would give her very high marks. I said, "But you have not helped me one bit," to which she replied, "Thank you very much and have a wonderful day."

Now a repairman for something that worked perfectly until they made me break it is scheduled for Thursday between 11am and 5pm. It's all part of that upgraded service, I guess.

The News Business: What Else is New?

Everyone is freaking out because of the recent discovery that a newspaper known for printing salacious stories that were most likely untrue obtained their information in unsavory ways. Britain's News of the World has shut down, its editors resigned or arrested or both, all because they got their gossipy garbage from hacking into cell phones. Big surprise: how else did the world learn years ago that Prince Charles wished he could have been Camilla's tampon?

In the late 1970's I worked at a highly respected newspaper called The Washington Star, a worthy competitor to the Washington Post for 126 years before being demolished by a new owner. Early one morning, during the Carter administration, I arrived at work and found everyone in the newsroom running around crazily, behaving as if Chicken Little's prediction were about to come true. It seemed that "someone" had authorized an early morning banner headline saying the president's brother, Billy Carter, had been admitted to the alcohol unit of Walter Reed Hospital in the middle of the night. In the light of day, however, it turned out not to be that Billy Carter. Uh oh.

Rushing into our esteemed Editor-in-Chief's office to commiserate about the error, I asked whose heads would roll. He laughed and said it was not a mistake at all and that he knew all along it was a different Billy Carter. Far from being upset, he was elated, explaining, "There's an article about our 'goof' on the front page of the Post, and we're all over the morning TV talk shows! The story's gone national! We'll sell some papers today, you can be sure of that!"

Nobody went to jail for that fib, or for any of the other lies and misdemeanors that surely took place daily. What is the world coming to when even our scoundrels are expected to be honest?

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Least Favorite Species

I just returned from a quick supermarket run to pick up stuff for dinner. The market is four miles from my house. The road I take is a two-laner--one in each direction--that branches out with an extra lane as it reaches the entrance to the highway. In winter there's hardly another car in sight, but today, it being a Friday in summer, there was plenty of traffic.

Suddenly the car in front of me stopped. Completely. I stepped on my brake hard to avoid a fender bender as the car behind me honked angrily.  Throwing my arms up in a shrug, I said to myself, since I was alone,"what's going on here?" The stopped car ahead of me finally moved forward, inching into the next lane in order to make a right turn at the next corner. Oh, so that's it, I thought. As I passed the woman driver, we made eye contact and she gave me the finger! Okay, so having someone hold their middle finger in the air in your direction is not exactly painful, but still, it's a sting, especially when it's undeserved.

Why is it that when people are in the wrong and you call them on it, they turn it around and make you the bad guy? When they're talking too loudly in the movies and you politely ask them to quiet down, they say, "Fuck you, asshole." When their kids are screaming in a restaurant and you rightly  complain, they say, "Shut the fuck up, moron."

People....they're the worst.

Thanking God and Oprah

I just heard about a book called One Thousand Gifts, wherein the author lists and gives thanks for the gifts she has been given-- not the jewelry, video game, toaster oven kind, but the "I can walk and my baby is healthy" kind--as a way to more fully appreciate God in her life. Sounds like a plan, I thought, and decided to give it a try.

Turns out it's a nice idea, but a bit of a stretch--I came up with like twelve. There is no way I am getting to a thousand unless I count individual body parts and every separate hair on my head. Partly this is because being thankful for what I have does not equal the sadness I feel over what others lack. Like Woody Allen said to Diane Keaton in "Annie Hall," if one person is starving in the world, it ruins my evening, or something along those lines.

The very thankful author gets to her 1,000 by what I consider cheating: for example, she includes things like a bubble of soap, taking a chapter to describe its shape, color and chemical composition. Hey, I've got bubbles of soap in my life--just this morning doing the breakfast dishes I had tons of them-- but I've never been thankful for them and probably never will be, unless or until I'm stranded in a very muddy place for a very long time and finally get to have a bath.

Ann Voskamp has hit it big, no small thanks to her appearance on and endorsement by Oprah, which I guess ups her total to 1,002. Surely there are more books in the offing, not to mention calendars and note cards and tote bags and coffee mugs. I wonder if my book, One Thousand Things That Make Me Miserable, would do as well.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

More Medical Marvels

Ain't life grand? Not only can I get a brand spanking new artificial hip installed after totally destroying the one God gave me, I can now eat whatever I want without getting fat, thanks to an amazing procedure called CoolSculpting with Zeltique. Devised by Harvard scientists, you know it's got to be good.

I never heard of it until today, when I read the ad in our local paper about a non-surgical, non-invasive and 100% natural way to lose those annoying bumps and bulges of stubborn fat. (It supposedly targets stubborn fat, and really, isn't that the worst kind?) The ad says if your jeans are too tight and exercise isn't helping and you hate dieting, this is just the ticket; that all you have to do is lay back and let the doctors at Skin Solutions work their magic. How cool is it that?  Of course I called right away--I'm no dummy-- and asked to learn more.

The lady on the phone helpfully explained that they "suck the fat into a vacuum."
     "A vacuum? Exactly how do they create this vacuum?"
     "It's sort of like a vacuum cleaner," she explained.
     "Oh," I said. "You mean liposuction?"
     "No, this is completely different! With liposuction the tube goes into your body, but this one stays on the surface for like half an hour to two hours, depending on how much fat you need to get rid of."
     "Well, then what happens?"
     "It, like, freezes the fat and then, like, sucks it in," she said.

It sounded so simple, I was amazed I hadn't thought of it myself. I was all set to make an appointment until, a moment later, I found an ad for losing inches "quickly and painlessly, with no recovery time" using Zerona, a laser treatment that opens the pores in your fat cells, letting the liquefied fat pour out into the space around the cell. The fat is then flushed out through the lymphatic system. That sounded so sensible, I wondered if Zerona might be even better than Zeltique, so I called them. A recording said the office was closed and in a medical emergency to please call 911, and if it was an emergency that required talking with either of the two doctors, a husband and wife team, to just leave a message and one of them would call back very soon. And even if it wasn't an emergency, one of them would still call back very soon.

Seems easier to just buy bigger jeans.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Slice of Life

My 23-year-old son has a girlfriend. She's adorable. Who knows what will become of them, but someday perhaps he will marry, either her or someone else. Hopefully that marriage will be a long and solid union, assuring me peace in my golden years, because, after all, as the saying goes, "You're only as happy as your saddest child." That would be so nice.

It would also be nice if my future daughter-in-law and I enjoy a good relationship, like the kind I had with my own mother-in-law, one of mutual respect and a love that grows out of our shared caring for the same man.

That would be much nicer than if, one night after a fight she drugs him and then, while he is sleeping, ties him up and cuts off his penis and throws it in the garbage disposal and turns it on, which is what some woman in California did yesterday.

That man's poor mother must be plotzing today.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just Call Me Adolf

Yesterday I enacted the Final Solution for the Japanese beetle population around our house, and I don't like it one bit.

We have a once-lush ornamental something-or-other growing beside our back deck. Planted by our home's previous owners, it was strategically placed to afford privacy from the street when using the hot tub. Besides that, it is huge and can be seen from several windows when inside the house. Trust me, it's a big deal landscaping-wise, so when it started to look crummy a few weeks ago, its shimmery green leaves turning brown and crinkly, we were distraught. Then yesterday, suddenly the tree was alive with bugs, hovering and darting, happily feasting on the poor tree. A neighbor identified them as Japanese beetles, and said I better get some "bug bags" ASAP!

The man at the garden shop knew exactly what to do, and suggested the Beetle Bagger, a system designed to solve just my problem. I purchased two of the death kits and set about doing my dastardly task right away. This morning there are two big plastic bags of dead Japanese beetles hanging from nearby trees, lured away from the ornamental whatever by the siren call of the "food floral attractant and a sex lure in a sealed tray with removable top." It says on the box to replace the bags "when they are full or when they begin to emit an offensive odor, which can repel Japanese beetles," so I guess they're not so dumb after all.

Anyway, I suppose I should be happy that I am saving my ornamental hot tub screen, but at what cost? I swear, I have no idea how Hitler lived with himself.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Movie Candy

I recently learned that my best friend Debra, who grew up in Utah and still lives there so it is kind of understandable that she is out of the loop culturally, never heard of Chuckles! How is that possible? Even worse, she has three grown kids who probably never heard of them either, although perhaps they are more sophisticated than their mother, especially the one who left Utah for greener pastures. Anyway, a 5-pack of Chuckles was my hands-down favorite movie candy, and I still love them even though I never eat them anymore, knowing that they are poison.

What's not to love about a Chuckle? First, the very name implies happiness and laughter and good times. Then there is the fact that there are five separate candies in one package, each a delightfully different color and flavor, making the whole experience an early lesson in decision-making and retirement planning. 

Other movie candy seemed boring by comparison, since they were all a box of just one thing: Junior Mints, Whoppers, Malted Milk Balls--all yummy, but the same thing over and over, whereas each Chuckle was a new experience! I never could settle on a favorite: cherry, lemon, spearmint, orange or licorice. I've always leaned towards the licorice, but then those green ones are pretty special too. And of course the red...well, the red, now there's a crowd-pleaser.

If for some bizarre reason there were no Chuckles on the premises, my second choice was Raisinets, which had the added benefit of pleasing my mother because they were so "healthy." On the down side, they were awfully noisy coming out of the box, requiring you to wait for a big laugh in the theater to get some.  I always wondered about those Jordan Almonds kids; they were so grown-up at such a young age.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mean Cops Suck

Heading back to Maine early this morning, we were pulled over by one of Dutchess County's finest for a minor traffic infraction. Judging by the demeanor, attitude, body language and abusive tone of the Fatman in Uniform (FU), you'd think we had run over a child, or worse, another cop.

After asking the always offensive question-- "where are you folks coming from this morning?"-- FU demanded the driver's license and registration, then sauntered back to his fully accessorized, K-9 occupied SUV, wherein he removed his hat and his Rod Steiger sunglasses and made himself comfortable, taking his own sweet time to do whatever it is they do when they go back there. This took almost 25 minutes. Fortunately I was not in labor, and while I did have the Sunday Times crossword puzzle to occupy me, it seemed like quite a long time, sitting there in the growing heat of the day, the two cats in their carriers crying to get out or get moving.

You've got to wonder why the police act that way. Why not approach us with a smile and say, "Hey folks, did you realize you did not come to a complete stop back there? It's the law around here that your tires must stop rolling, you know." Instead, FU growled at us like we were the scum of the earth, and finally gave us a ticket, then walked away. No goodbye, drive safe, nothing...

Mean-spirited encounters like that one only alienate the general public from law enforcement, ultimately making America a far worse place to live.  For example, far from feeling like that cop was looking out for our welfare, I fantasized about being in a Coen Brothers movie and following him home and blowing up his house, his police dog and his whole damn family. Instead I ate a package of Chuckles that I had been saving for the long drive home, which seemed to make me feel better.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Things My Mother Taught Me

After five straight days of beautiful sunny weather we are hunkered down under rain, thunder and lightning, wind and ever-darkening skies. This is particularly annoying since we have access to a great swimming pool right outside our back door only until Sunday, at which time we will pack up and leave and return to our non-swimming pool house in Maine.

Naturally, one does not swim in a thunderstorm. According to my mother, who died in 1981 but whose influence lives on, one also does not shower, use the phone, wash dishes, walk near a window or take a drink of water in a thunderstorm; even excessive salivating could kill you. Nothing to do with water or electricity is allowed, so for instance I could get struck and die just by using my computer which I am doing this very moment, in the storm, as a form of rebellion against someone who has been gone for 30 years.

When my mother was 19, she witnessed three people near her get struck by lightning. She was waiting out a storm at the beach in Brooklyn's Coney Island, standing in a line of people at a water fountain. The fountain was hit, and the rest is death-by-proximity history. Naturally when she later married and had children, this shocking (ha) event haunted her, and anytime it rained my sister and I were dragged onto the bed in the middle of my parent's bedroom, far away from any windows, to avoid being electrocuted.

And that's why I am nuts today. That, and because this morning, during a brief respite from the storm, I bought a hot pink Noodle for the pool at the Rhinebeck Five and Dime, and it is right now languishing in the corner of the den. Hopefully it will get some time in the water before we head home.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Whose Turn Is it?

With my hip replacement surgery scheduled on the heels of his shoulder surgery later this summer, my husband and I are on a week-long mini-vacation in Rhinebeck, NY and are trying to have a good time, goddammit. To that end, we went out to dinner at a fairly upscale Italian restaurant the other evening, the kind with candles and tablecloths and opera playing in the background. Except for the opera it seemed quite pleasant, but almost immediately after we were seated it became apparent that the entire establishment was being held hostage by a screaming little blond girl about the age of Caylee Anthony, who as you may recall was killed by her own mother, no doubt for carrying on in a similar manner.

After several ear-piercing screams from the child, I became exasperated and Mitch became pissed off. We debated leaving the restaurant. Having already ordered wine, we opted to stay, at which point the adorable Caylee-clone started running around our table, again with the screaming. Mitch threw down his menu and said in a loud stage whisper, "That's it, we're leaving!" One of the adults in the offending party said, "No no, we are leaving!" I replied, not in a stage whisper but instead projecting to the balcony, "That's great!"

As they gathered up their things, muttering about what bad people we were, the lone man in the group shouted out to the child, who was still running and screaming but at least was now headed for the door, "Sorry they ruined your birthday, Sasha!" The rest of them concurred, quite audibly, that we indeed sucked.

Call me madcap, but it seems to me that they should have apologized to us, or at the very least quieted little Sasha. As for ruining her birthday, oh please--it was already 8 pm and the child had surely been feted all day long. Besides, her party was over and ours was just starting, if only in the restaurant that night, so the whole episode smacked of the "Medicare-Social Security-young people, old people" thing. Sometimes I wonder, just whose turn is it?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Getting Away With Murder

Yesterday a young Florida woman named Casey Anthony was found "not guilty" of the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, proving anew that lawyers are scum and assuring her soon-to-be-a-rock-star defense attorney a 20-year waiting list of clients.

Despite the alarming number of murders daily in America, the bottom-feeding purveyors of infotainment picked up on the potential salaciousness of this particular one early on, and thus the life of an ordinary person became above-the-fold news for the last three years.

I personally remained above the fray until closing arguments on both sides dominated the news in the last few days, sucking me in to the web of lies spun by an obviously demented woman and her whole train-wreck family and involving a decomposing carcass found in a swamp, Internet searches for chloroform, an imaginary nanny, a specific brand of duct tape, a sexually abusive grandpa, a bereaved mom partying til dawn, an alleged accidental drowning....oy vay, you couldn't write stuff like this! And through it all, the accused, who refused to take the stand and proclaim her innocence, sat staring into space while her lawyer said she didn't do nuthin' and the other lawyer said she killed her kid.

Now all we can do is wait for the book, the movie, the made-for-TV biopic, the interviews, the articles, the reality show and the Caylee Anthony action figure toy, which should be out just in time for Christmas.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Don't Make Me Eat That

I am all for creativity, but not with things I ingest. I just read a recipe from a "famous chef" wherein it is suggested I take a quantity of juicy, delightful God-given strawberries, drench them with oil and vinegar and grill them, then smother the lot with blue cheese and slap it on a slice of toasted bread, or in this case, a crostini, which sounds better. With all due respect to my good friend Gabby, a superb cook in her own right who brought it to my attention with a thumbs-up, I must say, "gag me with a spoon."

It reminds me of my dinner a few weeks ago at a local restaurant called Grace, which is located inside an old church. (Cute name.) My husband and I had heard it was "fantastic," and who doesn't want a fantastic meal? After we ate there, we wanted one even more. First, we could hardly find anything appealing on the menu, since everything that started out healthy had been downgraded to junk food. The fresh salmon was "maple-glazed." (Yuk.) The lamb chops were "encrusted" with pecans. (Barf.) Finally we each ordered something, and when the odd-looking entrees arrived, I swear there were things on our plates we simply could not identify by sight or taste.

Something is surely lacking in our culture that causes us to seek excitement through the alimentary canal. Give me a banana and a bowl of oatmeal any day.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Emperor's New Debt Ceiling

I have to admit that when it comes to government and politics, I am extremely confused. I try to keep up by reading the news and yet the deeper I dig, the more confused I get. For instance, today's Wall Street Journal says "the government needs a week or two to write and pass legislation and take steps necessary to raise the debt ceiling and avoid an Aug. 2 default."

Is that really how problems are solved these days? If so, I've come up with the perfect solution to America's obesity epidemic: The government should declare new ideal weights, like 190 pounds for an average 5'5" woman and 230 for an average 5'10" man, and damn, we are all suddenly quite fit!

I hope they do it soon so I can think I look better in a bathing suit this summer.