Monday, October 28, 2013

A Trip to the Body Shop

As my sister Ethel (I wish I could say her name has been changed here to protect the innocent, but it hasn’t) lay awake during the night a while back, unable to sleep, she asked herself what she would like to change about her body. She has hit that age, you know, where it feels like she has to accept that all of us eventually become victims of Father Time, especially when we don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars squirreled away for the entry fee into the Youngest Looking Old Person In The Coffin Sweepstakes. (Relax, sis, you have a lot of years before you reach this point – although not as many as I have J )

Being the always-supportive little sister that I am – okay, younger sister that I am, I decided to help her with her list. It’s more fun than counting sheep, and requires fewer grey cells than the old Twenty Questions required. With this in mind, let’s take a trip to the body shop, dream of that new you, and pick the one thing you would want most.

Let’s start at the top. She said she wanted her old hair back – the thick, lush chestnut-colored stuff that cascaded over her shoulder and curled just a bit at the end. That would be awesome, although in my case it would be problematic because I am not sure what color my hair used to be. Thanks to that wonderful twisted generic rhizome I was blessed with from my father’s side, it has been grey longer than it was any other color. That said, any color might be better, as long as it didn’t have the texture and thickness of armpit hair.

If she had that wonderful hair back, though, it would be nice to have the unwrinkled face and unbaggy eyelids to go with it. Of course, that hair hanging down around your ears might now mess up your limited hearing, so you would need your hear-a-pin-drop hearing back, and if you are doing that, you might want to ditch the glasses and restore your better than 20/20 vision you once had. Since we’re in the neighborhood, maybe we can work out a deal – trade in a chin or two for perhaps new earlobes that don’t shake when you move your head.
My sister, it pains me to say, has been blessed with perfect teeth. No matter how old the rest of her gets, she has worked like a trooper to keep those pearlies in perfect shape. She is a dentist’s nightmare, because when he looks in her mouth, there is no new pool liner there, no new Bimmer for the garage, no winter on the Riviera. I am not so lucky, so we should probably throw a whole new set on my tab. If we’re dreaming, let’s dream in Technicolor – make em so that they are the impervious, untouchable, low maintenance ones that I never have to worry about again.

Back to the hair, though – to do those new old locks justice, we would then need the arms to be more toned, more durable, able to spend hours up, working on the hair to keep it looking incredible. Hair is work. Beautiful hair is more work. With that amazing hair back, though, it would be wonderful if it draped over shoulders that weren’t so hunched or flabby. The tips of that wonderful hair curled above those wonderful perky breasts – gravity really is a heartless bitch. Sis, remember when I teased you about how you could save money by buying bandaids for those puppies, instead of shelling out for a bra? Well, I do apologize, and ruefully acknowledge that membership in the ginormous-boob club comes with a price. Like gravity, karma is also a bitch; together, they are merciless. Your list won’t require scaffolding and miles of duct tape to pull those puppies back up where they belong. For that, I am jealous. I should point out though, that the way mine are going, in a year or two, I won’t have to worry about polishing the toes of my shoes... the boobs will take care of it for me (if I can just keep them out of the gravy when I’m making dinner).

We all wish for the tight butt and the toned tummies of our youth. Even skinny people have saggy skin on those areas as they get older. We also should consider some digestive parts. Can you imagine what it would be like to again eat without having to run through the list of things that would cause heartburn, gas or our gallbladders to revolt? There was also a time when our knees, or in my case, ankle, didn’t creak with every movement. If someone had told me when I was twenty that, at the age of fifty playing tug-of-war with my ankle to unlock it would be routine, I would have laughed in their faces. Do not worry though about that harbinger of quintessential old-age – the bowel discussions. It won’t happen here. On this blog, bowels are totally off limits. That’s my gift to those of us sharing this journey.

There is a curse, and maybe even a lesson, in this exercise, I suppose. The curse is that we can’t turn the clock back, no matter how much we want to. We can slow some of the process down, we can do our damnedest to maintain what we have, but we really can’t stop it from happening. The lesson is that, it seems despite our reluctance, our bodies work as a magnificent symphony, parts in concert, aging together, to make us what we are supposed to be when we are supposed to be it. There is undeniable beauty in that.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Quest for the Immaculate Complexion

‘A picture paints a thousand words.’ Do you remember that old dog? It sort of went along with the ‘pictures don’t lie’ thing; the definitive proof about how awesome, or god awful, that dress looked on you, and whether or not your butt looked big in it. There was a time when, if all else failed, the picture was the proof needed.

Once again, in our quest for all things perfect, in a society where almost is never good enough anymore, where human frailty and humanity take a back seat on the bullet train to our own manufactured hell, honesty bears the scars of collateral damage. I blame Nixon for this... well, in my little world where it’s nice to have a face to throw darts at, I blame Nixon for it. I know he wasn’t the first manipulator but he certainly made the activity a household notion. There is a blemish on a piece of audio tape? Just get rid of it. There’s a zit on Britney’s face? Get rid of that, too. I mean, what’s the little airbrushing of wrinkles in the grand scheme of things? It’s a simple activity... although in its very essence, it’s a lie. What’s wrong with there being a wrinkle on a model? Why can’t bad-girl Britney have a zit on her chin? She’s human. We all get them.

As I watch my Facebook ticker scroll by, I see the photoshop creations. Yes, I am guilty of them, too, although at least I know that no one would believe my face on Katherine Zeta-Jones’ body, so there is no point in taking the time to do it. Lol cats and Sheldon Cooper’s Big Bang memes aside, why are we so obsessed with, well, perpetrating continual lies about who, or what, we are? Do we really see each other as such colossal idiots that we can believe in all these perfect bodies and immaculate complexions? More importantly, as a woman of advancing years, who am I supposed to believe? The make-up company that tells me their products will erase the years from my face, or the magazine photos that show me it can be done with a click of a button – as long as I intend to never show my ‘real’ face in public?

Richard Nixon’s wrinkle in time was proof positive that we can no longer believe what we hear with our own ears. I wonder what he would have done before his big ‘I am not a crook!’ speech if he had known he could also erase the lines from his face and the bags from under his eyes. Would we have believed him more? Would photos be the next tool in his arsenal of convenient manipulations?

No, I don’t have a lot of photos of me around the house, because I don’t like what they show me. I would rather know they are honest, than to have a hundred of them stuck to my fridge, showing me what I want to see instead of what I am. Perhaps that means I’m lazy, or perhaps it means that I don’t have the secret service to do that dirty work for me (although, damn, looking at some of those buff black-spectacled bods, it might be nice to see what they could do with me). I would like to think it just means I am one of the few remaining wholesome folks who knows, and accepts, that we grow older, that it shouldn’t be something we’re embarrassed about, and that, at the very least, when I die people will be able to say that my body was a bastion of brutal honesty. The truth isn’t always pretty, but it certainly doesn’t deserve to be sacrificed on the unattainable, unrealistic altar of perfection. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I H8 This Nu Txt stuff!

I h8 this nu txt stuff. Perhaps that means I’m old, or perhaps it means that I am old-fashioned, bordering on anal retentive, but when I have to spend twenty minutes trying to think of what the newest combination of letters stands for, it makes me really not give a damn about what is being said. This cannot be a good thing for society. We already are indifferent enough to each other; writing all our correspondence as if we were making vanity license plates could really lead to disaster.

A guy collapses. Someone screams that you should see if he has any ICE. Does that mean I should run to the closest bar, perhaps toss back a few shots while I wait for them to fill up my bucket of frozen water – not that ice would make a damned bit of difference to the situation, but what the hell do I know?

With age, our interpretation of these little language shortcuts will be vastly different. The first time I saw a FFS, I was thinking ‘finally finished shaving’. Seriously, it’s not such a simple task as we get older and have hair growing where it shouldn’t be – and not nice hair, at that. As I am inundated with TWSS, WWJS, IDK, AFK and the descriptive (although hyperbolic) ROFLMAO, I long for a simple FUBAR and SNAFUs of old.

While this was challenge enough, now let us add the always-enjoyable auto correct for texting. Taking us to places we never thought possible, in what is quickly becoming an illiterate society, technology now makes us speak better, more correctly... or at least gives us a few more laughs. As already discussed in a previous blog, though, at our age sometimes those outbursts of laughter are not such a good thing. How the little robotic brain inside these autocorrect programs can take plans and turn it into a penis, is truly amazing, while having the added benefit of creating some more than awkward situations.

Remember those days when you wrote a note to pass in school? Even on a crumpled piece of paper that had passed through ten sets of I-don’t-want-to-know-where-they’ve-been hands was fully understandable when it reached the end of the line, or when the teacher intercepted it. Remember when you didn’t have to scratch your head for ten minutes trying to understand if your son was going to be home for supper or not? There was also the old cork board on the kitchen wall for messages to be posted – and you could read them, despite the chicken scratch, with no problem even when the power was out or you hadn’t charged your batteries.

I can’t help but wonder if kids even know how to hold a pen, or can read cursive writing anymore. Why do they have to? Do they still teach spelling in school, or is the language growing so fast, it is outgrowing us all? The great thing about it, though, especially as senility sets in, is that we can get countless hours of entertainment, trying to understand what our children just told us (while praying that it isn’t a call for urgent help), and we can now make up any old letter combination on the Scrabble board, because who is going to know if it’s a real word or not? Certainly our texters of today won’t cotton on too quickly. Soon we will all be talking a language totally foreign to our children, one with words that actually mean something. My JFK will refer to the former president, not that I was making a joke (with an expletive in the middle), and I will never order anyone to STFU unless they are going to St Francis’ University. I’ll leave all that other BS for the fast-fingered set.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I've Become My Father

Don’t get me wrong – my dad was a great guy, and I loved him to bits, but, well… he screamed at the television set. *blushes* He did… sort of like it might listen to him, and everything would change. He yelled at the politicians on the news, he would shout encouragement to his team. He never cried at a sad movie (although he did roll his eyes at a lot of what his four daughters watched). The greatest irony of all was watching my dad talk to Archie Bunker as Archie yelled at Walter Cronkite. Thankfully Dad refrained from giving Peter Mansbridge the raspberry (but I can’t say the same about when Brian Mulroney showed up on the set.)

When I think back, my Grandmother used to talk to the television as well. For her, it was her 'stories' that she watched – The Edge of Night and Another World. She would whisper secret warnings to Mac that he shouldn’t trust Rachel, and tell everyone who appeared on the screen that they shouldn’t trust Sandy. She would ‘I told ya so’ and waggle her finger when the truth came out. When were they going to learn? They should have listened to her... or Doctor Welby. He was always right. If someone didn’t listen to him, she would admonish them, and tell them what they were in for.

They were both – my father and my grandmother – very sane people (by my standards). That said, when you are fourteen years old and your friends get to witness these performances, sanity is the last thing you’re thinking.

So, why do we talk to the television? What is it that changes in us as we age, that says it’s okay to carry on a conversation with the flat screen? I don’t talk to my computer. (well, okay, it gets the odd expletive tossed at it when it decides to crash and loses fourteen hours of writing). I certainly don’t talk to Adele when she is singing on my stereo, but I do admit to a bit of drooling when Il Divo has the stage.

I blame... Alisha Florec. She had the total lack of foresight when she kissed Will Gardner. Someone had to tell her what an idiot she was, how it was only going to make a bad situation worse. If that wasn’t bad enough, with that one kiss, she betrayed the alliance she had created with the other fourth-year lawyers who had been totally bitch-slapped by the firm. How could she not see that? She’s supposed to be The Good Wife. The title of the show alone means that she should be at least slightly smart enough to see how stupid she is being. Yes, the character annoyed me… but not just because of what she did on the screen. I was mad because she made me yell at the set. It was something I promised myself I would never do… just like I promised myself to never utter The Curse – ‘just wait till you have kids of your own!’

More recently, though, the political scene on both sides of the 49th have taken a walk on the wild (sic absolutely asinine) side. Frustration, disappointment, disbelief, rage... they all boil up inside and in no time at all, the only thing that separates me from Archie Bunker is the can of beer in my hand and the Meathead on the couch. (Please note that I in no way compared our current palette of news broad-casters with Walter.) If Dad cursed at the set before, I cannot even begin to imagine how blue the air would be now as he had to watch these journalistic buffoons performing contortion acts with the facts.

I have, apparently, reached one more milestone on this migration. While I have always wanted to emulate my parents, because God knows they were good, honest people, there are just some things that should not have been carried along in their genes. I now yell at inanimate objects. I have become quintessentially ‘old’. I pray to God that bowel movement discussions will not be next. I think my kids are praying for that as well.