Category Archives: Age

Dream Schmeme

Have you come to the realization that, because you’re of a certain age, some of your dreams will never materialize? In your childhood, it’s the garden-variety, “I’ll never be Cinderella/Prince Charming,” stuff. That whole, “win the lottery” (sustaining you through most of adulthood) is really far-fetched, especially if you only buy a ticket once every eight years. Personally, chances are good that I’ll never be able to carry Bruno Mars around in my pocket. Until they change celebrity stalker laws. I’ve made my peace with that. Sometimes you have to tweak that goal a bit.

Recently I was able to achieve a lifelong dream (keeping a celebrity in my pocket is more of a recent idea) in an unexpected way. I’ve spent most of my life in search of missing family. Well, they’ve never thought of themselves as missing, but they’ve never been a part of my circle.  For me, these missing pieces have been a structural element lacking from my very foundation.

When you spend so many years without answers, the fantasies take mainstage. The people in question become something they most certainly are not. In my situation, I spent many hours of many days creating a circumstance with no basis in reality. Just like the lotto ticket dream, where everyone creates a detailed world filled with good deeds and fancy cars, my missing family fantasy was just that.

This dream was finally realized after several decades, but not in the way I had planned. The family in question, when found, were not at all what I expected. What I fantasized. That requires some regrouping. The most amazing part of this story is that an unforeseen family member turned out to be kind, funny and completely in-tune with my oddities.

Some of the dreams we have die a slow death. Some will remain important our whole lives, but it’s ok to turn them on their head a bit. You may not be able to carry Bruno Mars around in your pocket.  So find something completely different to store in your pants. The results may be equally satisfying.


Quote Schmote

Television was an event in our day. If you were lucky, you had cable. If not, you had three channels. One was really just to keep up on Sesame Street without anyone knowing. The shows we watched defined us, as so many publications have mentioned. What the articles don’t offer are funny and random quotes from these shows. Here is a trip down memory lane, via the voices of the seventies:

Tim Conway, on The Carol Burnett Show:

“I was at this freak show one time and I saw these Siamese Elephants. They was joined at the end of their trunks. This trainer made ‘em stand up on their back legs and their trunks stretched. Then this little monkey would come out and dance the merangue. Kinda felt sorry for them. They couldn’t go like the other elephants and go Pffffffhu! All they could do is Snrkin.”

Nellie Olsen, queen of 1800’s snark on Little House on the Prairie:  

“Half the time, you don’t even SMELL like a girl! You’re either sweaty, or you stink of fish!”

Cindy Brady, (The Brady Bunch) on the occasion of the family’s fateful, two-part Hawaiin adventure:

“I’m sure glad Greg didn’t get hurt. It would have ruined our picnic tomorrow!”

Land of the Lost. A time-traveling family, Rick, Will and Holly always had their corduroys in a bunch over some miscommunication with a Slestak or dinosaur. You had to be there.

“Sometimes, Rick Marshall, you demonstrate your intelligence in a strange, but effective, way.”

Batman, from the re-runs of the Batman series, which originally aired in the 1960’s:

“I knew what you were up to Penguin so I gently coated my stomach with buttermilk.”

The Star Trek series:

“He’s dead, Jim.”

“I signed aboard this ship to practice medicine, not to have my atoms scattered back and forth across space by this gadget.”

George Jefferson, wealthy dry cleaner extraordinaire, The Jeffersons:

“I’m gonna stick my foot so far up your behind you gonna think I grew there.”

Columbo, the squinty-eyed, trench-coat- for -every-season detective so understated he had a show named after him:

“There are a couple of loose ends I’d like to tie up. Nothing important you understand.”

“I can’t swim, I don’t even like a deep tub.”

After kickball, television was our main form of entertainment in the middle of nowhere. These shows and many more formed our sense of being in the seventies. What are some of your favorites?


Theory Schmeery


Things I like in theory:


  • Hairless cats. Great idea. Poor implementation.
  • People who agree with everything I say. I enjoy feeling like the smartest person in the room and all, but conversation tends to lag when you nod eagerly in response to my listing the reasons why the world should completely accessorized in purple.
  • Long nails. They are beautiful. Just not functional for a writer
  • Beautiful plant. Worth the work?
  • Smart cars. Look adorable driving down the street. Under a semi – not so much.
  • Airatarians – I appreciate that you’re saving food for me, but the whole non-eating gets so annoying.
  • Shirts with buttons – Sure do look nice on you. Too chokey.
  • Socializing – It certainly looks like fun. In reality, there is sweat pouring down my back and I can’t remember the names of your kids.
  • Television shows about people “my age.” Wouldn’t it be great if she actually graduated before the millennium? Look for her to be playing the grandmother in ten years, even though she has been fully reconstructed.
  • A book with tiny print. It must be incredibly educational. You don’t see smutty novels in small print. It just makes me irritable in practice.


Recently I found myself slogging through a t.v. show that was, for me, mind-numbingly dull. Everybody’s watching it. The scenery was painstakingly perfect for the time period. The actors even whispered the entire hour, like all serious actors do while taping a show that will be in Emmy contention.  In theory, it had all of the elements of a good show. In theory, it was great. That’s why I forced myself to sit through four episodes. In practice, this thing is a ridiculous waste of butt-flattening, life-shortening time.

Life lived “in theory” is probably a great thing for some. Just don’t ask me to take a spin in your smart car to discuss what we’re not eating.


Scent Schment


What scent immediately fires up your nostrils and engages your brain in holiday reverie? Newly-cut pine? Peppermint?  The smell of fresh plastic symbolizes celebration to me. Childhood holidays meant re-assessing the year, the constant threat of Santa’s ambiguous list (what constituted naughty? Hiding the cookies in my bedroom? Or that kid who kicked dirt at everyone, but got a new bike every year? I never understood the criteria.) and hoping that somehow my violations had slipped by the ever-watchful eyes of the Elf Mafia.  No matter what the offense, the smell of fresh plastic in the dark of Christmas night assured me that good things were coming.

One especially significant plastic bouquet belonged to the folding Barbie House of my seventh year. I had wished for a three-story manse, one with an actual elevator and an extra bedroom for the occasional sleepover with Skipper, or Flatsy if the party went totally interspecies. My nostrils flared with the smell of “new” that night, as I laid in my bed imagining the great adventures in fine living ahead for my formerly homeless Malibu Barbie.

I awoke to a simple three-room cottage, consisting of a bedroom, kitchen and a mystery room of many uses. It was Barbie on a modest budget. There was, however, room for outdoor expansion, and eventually chez Barbie obtained a dining table, a refrigerator and an outdoor bathtub.  At the end of the day, the three sections of cozy living folded up neatly. Each night I would dream of new adventures, a clean slate each morning as I re-opened the case and started over.

Barbie had plenty of room for guests and even hosted a celebrity.  Truly Scrumptious, on temporary hiatus from her life in the movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang dropped by once for plastic steak. She didn’t seem at all disgusted to sit on the floor and politely left her one shoe by the fake door without complaint. barbie-home

The smell of fresh vinyl still gets me tingly. It’s about anticipation. More exciting than the act of gift opening is the plethora of possibilities in the dark of the night prior to gift giving. Close your eyes and imagine.


Stick Schmick


I remember it well: Hopping once, then twice, stretching to reach the seat of my canary-yellow bike. I would pedal across the main highway through town and continue four blocks to the grocery store. Four long, windy blocks of complete independence. If I remembered my combination, (Once. It only happened once.) I would lock my bike after leaning it in front of their cart return.

Upon entering the store, I pushed the squeaky adults-only cart down every aisle; once, then twice. Every packaged item that wasn’t in our home cupboard was worthy of my attention: Hunt’s Snack Pack puddings, Korker’s Corn Twists, (crunchy, pre-Tostito snacking) and Mug-O-Lunch, the INSTANT “beef” noodle can- of- goodness; only ten minutes to boil the water, four minutes to cook and two seconds to sear the inside of your mouth. With a newly acquired paper route, I had at least fifty dollars each month burning a hole in my macramé purse and I wanted to try every single item.

By far the best test of my newfound monetary independence and expanding culinary pallete was the Food Stick.  Described sumptuously as, a “non-frozen, balanced energy snack in rod form containing nutritionally balanced amounts of carbohydrate, fat and protein,” it was the equivalent of today’s fruit leather, if it came in rod-form without the fruit or any discernable taste. It tasted like…chewy.  Astronauts ate them, we were told. Food Sticks came in three boxes: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. While they were three distinctly different colors, they shared one taste.

Imagining myself someday eating them on the moon colony, I savored each one. No canned vegetables or boiled meat in the moon kitchen. If we played our cards right, we would probably evolve beyond real food altogether. Just food sticks and other tubed items.

If I was feeling saucy, I would take the long way home – six blocks; my leftover food sticks tucked away in my pockets. It was so much more than box of artificial ingredients. It was the first chewy taste of freedom.






There you were, at age fifteen, in the department store shopping for that absurdly small pair of jeans that you could still zip with a pair of pliers. This pair had fake rhinestones. That pair had orange swirlies, making your backside look impossibly small. If only you could decide…  in the end, (ha!) you would take neither. There was no possible way to make a decision with the ridiculously, ear-splittingly irritating sound they piped throughout the store.

At that time, it was a strange combination of familiar tunes and musical cottage cheese called, “muzak.” It was a sleepy, music-alternative meant to encourage you to concentrate more on shopping and less on lyrics. It was quick and painless, and by the time you got home, the discomfort of listening to non-music music was over.

Today, it is music embarrassingly plucked from the rock concerts and late-night rides of our youth. It is not uncommon to hear Def Leopard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” while perusing the sweetener alternatives. Wandering through Target, searching for feminine hygiene products is kind of the last place you need to hear, Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” It’s gotten so unblinkingly common that you may even be humming along to “Highway to H@#” as you’re sitting on hold waiting to speak to your cable company.

We took seriously the sounds of our youth; only to be played during the endless drives down Main Street or while our parents were trying to sleep in the next bedroom. It didn’t matter if the lyrics made no sense: A park became a runny, melty cake when someone clearly mismeasured ingredients. Or it was caused by rain and suicidal thoughts – never clear.   It didn’t matter that many of those lyrics were unintelligible when we belted them into a hairbrush, (Blind-ed by the light, left out something by yada yada) they meant something to us.

That misguided teen who felt a lasting sting from having to endure bland tunes while purchasing Pop Rocks and Orange Crush are today responsible for the downfall of our musical dignity. Listening to our music on the internet is fine. Humming along to the oldies station, while somewhat humiliating, is also fine. Elton John in the mammogram dressing room has crossed a line.

Dance Schmance

Your decade of birth determines not only your preference in style and music but also the Danceway you dance.

Do you have the predisposition to wiggle your rear like an excited pup every time your favorite song is on the radio? Chances have you learned your dance moves in the sixties. Do you feel the need to roll your arms in an upward motion and sway back and forth in the widest possible clothing? Point to the ceiling. Now the floor. Now the ceiling.  You child of the seventies, you.

Slide your feet across the floor as if it were a moon-like surface, or perhaps bang your hair against an invisible wall? Life was good in the eighties. If you have the urge to Macarena or squat-slide your balloon pants across the room in true Hammer style, welcome to the nineties. Beyond that decade, I confess I do not know what motivates your movements. There are some unexplained jerks that just defy logic.  I hope all of my 2000-and-beyond dancing friends have a good relationship with a chiropractor. Why? Umm… no reason.

No matter what your dance-decade preference, at some point your body dictates your movements. Those dance floor high kicks will at some point become more of toe-tap. The hip swirl will evolve into more of a suggestive head bob, willing those hips to follow along.  Those broad dance moves that once defined us are suddenly channeled into much smaller movements.

Look no further than any summer concert series. Rows of lawn chairs interspersed with blankets and gleeful toddlers contain many wishful dancers. The band begins playing a Beach Boys tune and immediately heads begin to bop. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the thoughts of those head boppers projected above us? Dances from every decade would appear. The wide, green lawn would suddenly become a crowded dance floor with booty shakers and sky-pointers dancing side by side.

The decades melt and we are all dancing together. In our heads. Keep those fingers moving.



Nap Schmap


It’s a vicious cycle, this sleep business. But there’s nothing like a good mid-afternoon drool-fest. Waking up slightly disoriented – is it evening? Tomorrow?  Or just fifteen minutes since you last looked at the clock? – makes the whole nap experience even better. It really caps off a pointless afternoon, one where you accomplished nothing because you were so grumpy and unreasonable that even your cat had to leave his usual squatting spot to get away from the thick, downer vibe permeating the air.

When you’ve finally pushed through the fog and repositioned every oddly-placed hair, (day-sleep makes hills and vales on your head that rock stars have tried to emulate for decades) you begin to run like a well-oiled machine. That box of “unknowns” sitting under your bed for two years? Gone. A four-course dinner of “whatever’s not moldy in the fridge” gourmet?  Fait accompli.  Course number five boxed brownies with an extra- sugary slathering of frosting and fruit (for health) on top? Sitting like a food photo on your freshly-cleaned counter.

Life is good. Until ten o’clock. You put on your pajamas, do your usual evening routine of brushing, flossing, smearing and pinning and hop into bed with that trashy novel you tell people you aren’t reading. Everything is going according to plan, until you turn out the light, roll over and realize, YOU’RE NOT THE LEAST BIT TIRED.

Surely that can’t be right. You were so sleepy you couldn’t keep your eyes open at 2pm. It was a good nap, not one of those time wasters you used when you couldn’t handle one more minute of real life. You didn’t drink caffeine, eat sugar (no one saw exactly what happened to the brownies) or bring your stresses to bed.

You go through all of the usual commercial sleep-inducers: Counting sheep? They are pretty boring until the cast of Twilight comes out of the woods and creates such a scene of carnage it will take four hours for you to stage the whole thing. Herbal tea? You drank six cups. Now when your eyelids are finally heavy, you’ll be too busy sitting on the toilet to actually get to sleep. Milk? A walk through the neighborhood in your pajamas?

It turns out that little favor you did your body has come back to bite. Hard. It will be past midnight before you find your sweet spot. Tomorrow will come, as it always does, at the same time. You’ll be a grumpy mess. Until 2 pm.

Chin Schmin


The chin is a funny thing. It doesn’t matter much for most of our lives. Other than Jay Leno, there has never been a person I’ve heard of in my life whose chin had an impact on their career or social life. “Did you hear about Fern? She got fired from her job for chin-butting everyone in accounting,” or, “women just can’t resist Fred. He points that bulbous chin in a come-hither manner and they are putty in his hands.”

Up until this very moment, you haven’t given your chin any thought, unless it has become an unintended canvass for that smear of chocolate that you thought no one saw you eat but your significant other has so kindly pointed out.  There are personality types connected to chin shape, according to shifty internet sources: square chins are allegedly attached to stubborn people. Protruding chins mean a self- confident type. Rounded- chin people are deeply emotional. Long chins are for those who are loyal and easy-going. People with dimples in their chin are just confused.

There are books dedicated to the strength and elasticity of the chin. Twenty, goofy grimaces in varying awkward positions three times a day and your vaguely- rectangular lower jaw will return to its former, perfectly- square glory. You can even do them in the car, the book states. The ensuing road-rage that will occur when you grimace at the wrong person must be addressed in later chapters that I couldn’t read while performing the Look of Abject Horror exercise. Twenty times.

The chin does assume a position of importance in middle age when suddenly it becomes a compass for trendy reading glasses in search of the printed word. But for now, let’s just concentrate on those chin-ups. Who knows where they might lead you professionally. Or personally. Oooh, Frances – that chin! I’d swear it was sitting on the face of a twenty-five year-old!


Pants Schmants


So your zen moment is pulling that elastic band to the under-boob position and snapping or tying things in place.  I’m going to give you permission, here and now, to embrace your style.  The only difference between this style and the one involving plyers and a firm mattress is that today you are wearing your clothes for comfort.  No one has the right to use the words, “mom jeans.” No one.

There was a time when dressing in a specific manner was expected. Riding on an airplane, for example, required your finest attire. Can you imagine being forced to buy special clothing today to eat your bag of peanuts stare longingly at the circulation-less hand you had to cram in between the seats?

Thankfully, now we have options in the transportation world, as well as in everyday life.

Find yourself below:

I wear the jeans I wore in high school because acid wash reminds me of rebellion and the Mc DLT.

I wear the anti-mom jean, keeping the waist band low in order to give my stomach that gentle sloping it deserves on the inevitable trip to my knees.

I wear cheap jeans. The kind that may vary by six sizes, depending on which third- world country proudly sewed two (or three) legs together.

I wear my daughter’s jeans.  Because you can’t.

I refuse to wear jeans because I don’t want to be in any of these categories. I wear middle-age pants. They are the same brand and style I have worn for twenty years. They have named that style after me and currently make these pants in basic black, soothing grey and terrific tangerine.

If you fit into one of these categories of some variation thereof, congratulations. You have reached pantopia. Now about that bra….