Friday, August 22, 2014

995. Meat Vs. Quiet Comfort of Your Own Home

The mystery person pounded on the door.  It was the kind of knock only the UPS guy does, or maybe Fedex.  I was not expecting a package, but the knock said I must have one. 

I opened the door and saw a salesperson.  I glanced behind him and saw his truck:  “Meaties.” 

“Hello,” he began cheerfully, “Have you ever heard of Meaties?” 

I had not heard of Meaties, but from the looks of it, he was selling frozen meat door-to-door. 

I did the only thing I could:  “I’m vegetarian.” 

He looked crestfallen, like a child expecting Christmas when it is already January. 

“Sorry,” I added, an afterthought. 

“Your whole family?”


“Even your husband?” 

“I’m gay.” 

I’m not really gay (although I think gay people are wonderful and wish I had more gay friends) and I am not really vegetarian.  I am just extremely morally opposed to people trying to sell me things when I am basking in the comfort of my own home taking a break from blatant consumerism.   

“I don’t believe you.” 

About which part?  The vegetarian or the gay?

“It’s true.  My whole family is vegetarian.”  Here I almost added “vegan,” but thought better of it. 

He gave me a blank stare. 

“I shut you down, huh?” I inquired, stating the obvious. 

“Yeah,” he shrugged. 

I suddenly felt obligated to throw him a bone (so to speak):  “My neighbors LOVE meat!”  I pointed to their house for emphasis. 

“Have a good evening,” he murmured, defeated. 

Ahhh, Meaties.  They don’t stand a chance.  Now if someone just knocked on my door with a truck called “Chocolate-ies.” 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

994. Help, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up

I recently wrote about my face not cooperating with my brain and now my feet are apparently in on the mutiny:  yesterday I fell while walking.

Notice I don’t say “while skateboarding” or “while bungee jumping” or some equally glamourous or athletic endeavor.  Nope.  Walking. 

Let me set the complicated scene.  Daytime.  My front yard.  Walking at a normal pace (not running) toward my car parked out front.  Accompanied by my kids (because let’s face it:  there are always witnesses to help record life’s embarrassments and retell them in excruciating detail after the fact).  I made the critical mistake of stepping off the curb when suddenly my rebellious left ankle chose this precise moment to go out. 

I came toppling down (with a surprised, squeaky sort of grunt sound effect emanating from my nose and mouth, young witnesses later confirmed) and landed face down in a heap in the street, keys and purse strewn about the asphalt. 

I felt like I’d been pushed, or at least tripped. 

This is when my life switched into slow motion, like some sort of Matrix movie.  I lay there in a crumpled up pile for what seemed like 10 minutes (but was probably 10 seconds) evaluating what had just occurred.  Who was my assailant?  Had Tall played a cruel joke on his middle-aged mother and given me a well-timed shove?  Had Short picked up the sidewalk and shook it fiercely, like a blanket?  Had a rare earthquake just announced its presence?       

No.  My feet just did not get the memo to perform a complicated maneuver (e.g. “walk”) and therefore I fell. 

The fall was not without repercussions.  Skin was scraped.  Ego was bruised.  Blood was involved. 

The children (who are used to falling off their bikes and such) were immediately sympathetic and helpful:  “Mom!  Are you okay?”  “Do you need help?”

I pushed myself up and for the first time noticed my elderly neighbor Harriet staring at me from her front yard across the street.  Harriet is about 99 years old and has a live-in nurse. 

I did not want to alarm Harriet, so I waved and called out:  I’m all right! 

She waved back from her walker and responded, “Don’t worry, dear, that happens to me all the time.” 

I dusted myself off, got in the car with the kids and drove away, praying Harriet would not post a video of my fall on YouTube later.      


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

993. Wipe That Silly Smile Off Your Face

You look in the mirror and you realize that the edges of your mouth point down a bit, just a bit, into a permanent frown, through absolutely no fault of your own.  You force a smile.  It looks forced.  You bare your teeth.  Now you look mad instead of merely unhappy. 

You realize all those clich├ęs your mother used to say are true:  Your face is going to freeze like that.  When you’re young you have the face you were born with; when you’re old you have the face you deserve. 

You now understand why complete strangers often tell you to Smile, it can’t be that bad!  And now you tell yourself that yes, from now on, you will smile.

All the time. 

Against your will.

This is in an effort to not exacerbate the frowny lines that are currently conspiring with a few choice lines in between your eyebrows to take over your face, a face that up until 10 minutes ago you were (naively) under the assumption seemed happy to the world, or if not completely joyful then at least neutral. 

But neutral has moved to Switzerland, and THIS has happened to you. 

You examine your newly forced happy self in the mirror.  Then you panic, thinking that the happy lines may become etched and then you will look like a marionette with chiseled marks next to your lips and cheeks.  Deep enthusiastic lines of a fake happy that you do not feel, a happy meant only to replace or at least temporarily distract from the scowl that has taken up residence on your head. 

You say to yourself, I am not mad!  I am not unhappy!  But the proof is still there, laughing at you (figuratively laughing, because if a laugh were there then there would be no problem). 

But there is a problem, a big problem:  the grin looks worse than the frown.  You look like a lunatic escaped from the asylum.  Now your forehead is participating in the bliss experiment, and it is not an attractive option. 

So you go the Mona Lisa route:  subtle, soft, Zen.  Just a hint of a smile, but enough to erase the frown without a plastic surgeon being involved.  Maybe Mona Lisa was actually frowning in Leonardo’s original sketches and he said, “Hey, M.L.!  Smile, it can’t be that bad!”  And she complied, because somewhere deep inside her soul she KNEW that this portrait would hang in a museum immortalizing her for all time.  She decided the fake happy was worth it. 

You wonder if she exercised her mouth muscles in the mirror first, practicing a teeth vs. no teeth look. 

The teeth look, you conclude, is the best for you.  No one in the 40 plus years you have roamed the earth ever tells you that you have nice eyes or a perfect nose or that they love your hair; however, they do compliment you on your smile a lot. 

When you bother to smile that is. 

You step back from the mirror, trying to guage if another five feet makes a difference.  It does not. 

You are unfortunately realizing that this new Mona Lisa thing is not becoming for you either:  in fact, the gentle expression that worked so well for Da Vinci’s muse appears on you more like… a smirk. 

You go from looking unhappy or irritated to the much, much better condescending. 
Great.  If only Da Vinci were alive to paint it.  

Saturday, August 9, 2014

992. But What If No One Shows Up?

I click “Send” on the Evite and immediately regret it. 

A tsunami of doubt pummels me.  What if no one comes?  What if I am sitting in the restaurant for an hour by myself after booking a group reservation and the busboys and servers all stand in the back mocking me and placing bets on how much longer I’ll wait? 

I tell myself to stop agonizing over it, Of course people will come.  This is a group that we started 10 years ago when we had tiny babies.  We met for dinner once a month to get out of the house, away from husbands and cranky children.  The group grew from 4 to over 50 at one point, and now has shrunk back down to somewhere in between. 

I look forward to these dinners, to the comfort of being surrounded by women my age and to discussing the mundane and the profound while eating shrimp scampi that someone else cooks.  These dinners keep me sane. 

We take turns organizing, depending on who feel especially courageous.  It is my turn now.       

What if no one likes the restaurant I picked?

What if the restaurant lost our reservation?

What if the restaurant accidentally overbooked and never let me know? 

What if it rains/ snows/ hurricanes so hard that everyone cancels? 

All of these things have happened. 

Deep breath, MOV, deep breath. 

I turn the computer off, wondering if the Evite design I selected is enticing enough to get people to respond.  And then I tell myself: 

Shrimp scampi by myself is still delicious. 


Saturday, August 2, 2014

991. Pretty Shiny New

“Mom, can we go to Target so I can get a new Lego set with my birthday money?”

I know I should be doing back-handsprings of joy for an excuse to go to Target, but didn’t we have enough Legos already?  I told myself it was his money to spend how he chooses, and if that meant adding to the Lego museum that was his bedroom, then so be it. 


“Short, you have a lot of Lego sets.  What about saving the money instead?” 

Here I got a look like I had perhaps suggested he chop up his tennis shoes and eat them for lunch. 

“Save it?!  It is my birthday money!  I. Want. To. Buy. Legos.” 

I sighed.  “Why?  You have so many already.” 

“But I have already played with all those.  I want something new.”

His comment jolted me like biting into a shard of glass in the middle of a pasta casserole.  Something new.  Of course!  This was not about acquiring or not appreciating what he already had.  This was a matter of human beings being hard-wired to seek stimulation.  How is the same thing you already have and have already played with a million times stimulating?  It’s not.  We want something new.  Which explains why I never read a book twice or watch a movie twice. 

Pretty, shiny, new.  Did I need another sundress when I already had 6 hanging in my closet?  No, but I was bored with those.  I wanted to wake up my brain synapses with something new.

“I get it, Short.  We can go to Target tomorrow… do you mind if Mommy looks at a few sundresses while we’re there?”