Monthly Archives: January 2015

Frosting On The Cake

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My birthday always brings me back to this moment. I was in my early twenties, teaching in IL, having big fun in my life. It was my birthday, and my girlfriends and I were going out to a decent restaurant for dinner. I remember I wore a fairly new teal colored angora sweater, and I was drinking an apricot stone sour. How fancy!

It was all such fun, until somebody surprised me with a cake. They set the rectangular cake in front of me, all aglow with twenty-some candles. My face flushed, partly from the apricot stone sour, and partly because attention was being drawn to me in a public place. Everyone sang Happy Birthday, and I blew out the candles.

My friends and I always had a lot of fun, and there was always a lot of laughter. But shortly after blowing out the candles, I realized that there was way more laughter than our usual shenanigans would yield. I looked around, and everyone was looking at me, chortling uncontrollably. I looked down and realized the source of the giggling fits.

In my exuberance to get all the candles blown out, I apparently had leaned my then ample bosom into the cake. Yes, my teal angora sweater had white frosting pasties. And the cake had two perfectly boob-shaped divots. In public. In a nice restaurant. Filled with strangers. Nowhere to hide.

The rest is fuzzy, but I know I slinked off to the restroom to try and recover. I’m sure that this wasn’t quite as memorable to my friends as it was to me, but somewhere there are photos. I’m also sure that several folks just trying to have a nice dinner were provided with way more entertainment than they had bargained for. My face still flushes just thinking about it! And ever since, I have been very careful of my posture while candle snuffing.

Hanky Panky

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Grams always had a hanky with her. It was either tucked neatly in her purse, in her bosom, or in her sleeve. She had a drawer full of them. They were fancy, in floral prints, often with lace edges. Some were even personalized with her initials.

She laundered, ironed, and folded each one carefully after they were used, to stack neatly back in the drawer for the next round of service. She would have them handy for whatever small disaster might crop up – bad news tears, a nose with an embarrassing drip, or freshly applied lipstick to be blotted. And if you were a lucky little girl or boy, you might have had the experience of having your mom spit on her hanky to clean off your face if you’d just indulged in a chocolate bar or an ice cream cone.

My other grandma, or Baba, as we called her, also carried a hanky at all times, as did my mother. Back then, it was a sign of the times. Ladies must have either been awfully fragile, known to break down at the drop of a hat, or ballsy enough to cry in front of anyone, as long as the hanky was stylish.

It’s funny how different a hanky was to a lady in the 40’s or 50’s as opposed to a man. First of all, a man would never refer to it as a hanky. No, it was a handkerchief. A gentleman’s handkerchief was either white, or matched his shirt, and was tucked into the breast pocket of his jacket. It was only for show, or to whip out to offer to a lady who might be caught without one in an emotional moment.

There’s also the kerchief, or bandana, which are more commonly used by cowboys and the middle class male, for the most part. These are typically red or blue, with a paisley print, but some prefer the plain white. They are not made of fine silky materials or linen. Just cotton. Good, strong cotton. For the cowboy, the kerchief was used to keep the dust out of his nose and mouth. You also might have seen a bandit or bank robber using one in an old movie to disguise himself (which worked really well, right?) If you weren’t out rustling up the cattle or holding up stagecoaches, you might have been working in the fields, or around the house. For this, you’d need your standard kerchief or bandana, usually stuffed in a pocket, ready to wipe your brow or blow your nose.

Does anyone even know what a fancy hanky is for any more? And be it fancy hanky, kerchief or bandana, aren’t they rather unsanitary for this generation of hand sanitizers and Clorox wipes? I know some who still carry them, but you have to wonder about the germ factor. Do you really want to carry around a small square of fabric, drenched in tears, sweat, snot, and lipstick?

Year In Review

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I’ve heard several people say 2015 sounds like a good year. It’s solid sounding. They say TWENTY FIFTEEN confidently. None of this long, drawn-out TWO THOUSAND FIFTEEN stuff. I had a chat with a friend at work the other day in which we did a review of how we’ve been saying the years in our lifetimes, and it was quite interesting to discover that we are very fickle folks when it comes to how we name our years.

When we met 2000, we said it was TWO THOUSAND. It was a huge deal. All of the computers were supposed to pitch a fit, bringing a world of hurt to all of our systems that were driven by technology, and it was to be the end of the world as we knew it. But nothing happened. We all woke up on January 1, alive and well, and still able to get cash at the ATM. WHEW! But no one said it was TWENTY HUNDRED, did they?

But if you look back at history, we named the centuries SEVENTEEN HUNDRED, EIGHTEEN HUNDRED, and NINETEEN HUNDRED. It was SEVENTEEN SEVENTY SIX when the Declaration of Independence was written. Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-SIX, and it was NINETEEN SIXTY-FOUR when the Beatles arrived in America. You never heard anyone saying ONE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-SIX, did you? But you hear plenty of folks saying TWO THOUSAND FOUR.

NINETEEN O’ FOUR – TWENTY O’ FOUR or TWO THOUSAND FOUR? EIGHTEEN THIRTEEN – TWENTY THIRTEEN or TWO THOUSAND THIRTEEN? Or was it supposed to be ONE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED FOUR and ONE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED THIRTEEN? And back in the ONE THOUSANDS – TEN HUNDREDS? Did they say ONE THOUSAND THREE or TEN HUNDRED THREE?

When we enter the 22nd century, will we refer to the 21st century as the TWO THOUSANDS, or the TWENTY HUNDRENDS, as we did back in the SEVENTEEN HUNDREDS? Someone’s going to have to make the call.

Creature of Habit

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I am a creature of habit. I guess we all are, to some extent. Our routines are often determined by work, family, pets, and other responsibilities. Fortunately, some of our routines are for pleasure, as well. But I also love spontaneity. Spontaneity is fun. Spontaneity keeps me young. Spontaneity is important. Burt sometimes I find myself actually scheduling spontaneity! Isn’t that a kick?!

When I find myself in the midst of some daily routine, I hear that voice in my head saying, “You are in a rut. You are becoming your father. You are doing the same thing every morning.” This scares me. But it is me. These are the times that I start scheduling spontaneity. Shake up those routines. Would it hurt if you made the coffee after feeing the cats? Could you fathom taking your pills after brushing your teeth?

If I scheduled some spontaneity, I could possibly, with a period of adjustment, get used to the changes. But then wouldn’t those changes become my routine? To break my habits, wouldn’t I have to do things differently every day? That would be truly spontaneous. Just whatever comes into my head to do next. Follow my heart. Toss caution to the wind!

But then my OCD tendencies would kick in and I’d start to fear that I’d forget something I should be doing. I don’t know if I could deal with all that random behavior. How would I ever keep track of whether I had completed all of the required tasks? I’m sure without a schedule or list I would miss something.

I guess I require a mix of structure and spontaneity in my life. Maybe the chores have to be structured, but the fun can be spontaneous. Let the dog out, make the coffee, put the eggs on to boil, feed the cats, let the dog in, make the bagel. Pack up for work, make sure the coffee pot is off, make sure the stovetop burner is off, run through your list in your head to make sure you did all those things, close the garage door as you drive out, look back to make sure you closed the garage door as you turn the corner. Yep. Gotta have the routine for that stuff.

But when I get home from work, watch out! I could actually do something different when I get home, and not just hit the sofa to relax. There is room for spontaneity. Until bedtime, when the routine kicks in again. All those things I must do before going to bed. Only those few hours free of scheduling, and then it all goes to hell again.

I guess this is why we go on vacations. So we can get away from our routines and responsibilities, even if just for a few days. No schedules. No task lists. No rules. But shouldn’t I wash the sand off my feet before I enter my Bali bungalow?

Who Cares?

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It’s tough, worrying all the time. Why can’t I stop? How hard would that be? What would happen if I just stopped? End of life as I know it? Spontaneous combustion?

I’m sure there are some who don’t worry, but aren’t they the ones who end up running into trouble? Living off of the relatives? Ending up in jail for not paying the bills? Then there are those who don’t worry because they don’t have to. The very wealthy. Those who are cared for by others. Look at young children, or those with developmental disabilities. They have the best attitude when it comes to worry…no worries! And they are truly happy people! How can I learn from them?

Sure, worry usually doesn’t affect the outcome. But if you didn’t worry at all, wouldn’t you just swing through life, offending others, being irresponsible, or even unsafe? If one day I decide not to worry about personal hygiene, for example, it’s a very bad day for those around me. And if I don’t worry about the clock, I lose my job, and miss out on a lot, disappointing and pissing off a lot of people. If I stop worrying about money, the bills aren’t paid, and eventually I become one of those mentioned above…in jail, homeless, or worse!

It’s been said that worry gets you nowhere. But sometimes it gets me through. Thinking of outcomes – is that worry? Exploring consequences, worst-case scenarios – is that worry, or cautionary planning? Worry over responsibilities – isn’t that being an adult?

Sometimes it’s just a mild worry – others it’s downright painful. When it interferes with daily tasks, work, functioning, then it’s serious. And not good for me. When it leads me to take stupid action – not good. If I find myself moving into the heavy worry phase, my nails get shorter, my diet and sleep suffer, and I can’t concentrate. I don’t enjoy other things while worry takes over. I get to the point at which I have no outlet for my angst…even the journaling doesn’t cut it. I enter the zombie zone. I cannot function until this situation is resolved.

But I don’t understand how anyone could NOT worry at all. Ever. So, if any of you have figured out how to get by without worries, please let me know! I think it’s in my genes.