I didn’t make it to the gym again today!
That’s fifteen years in a row.
I didn’t make it to the gym again today!
That’s fifteen years in a row.
I came across the 1970 dress code for my high school and it gave me pause. It’s not as I remembered, which is odd, since I recall with clarity the name of the boy who spit a chunk of bubble gum the size of a cantaloupe into my hair as I sat in the lower bleachers at a 7th grade basketball game. And, I remember exactly how I saved that wad of bubble gum, added to it and placed in on his seat in English class on the very day he was sporting a new pair of Docker khakis. Ah, the sweet stickiness of revenge.
But I digress. The dress code of that long ago day was established by an older generation who was deathly afraid of hippies, nuclear proliferation, bra burnings, Barry Goldwater and Reefer Madness, not necessarily in that order.
This is an actual excerpt from my high school handbook:
For Boys: No shorts of any kind. No pegged pants that are “extremely form-fitting.” Pants are to be worn at the waist, shirttails tucked in, coats may not be worn in school, and no “fad” shirts.” No “extreme” hairdos or clothing styles.
For Girls: No bermudas, slacks or shorts. No “pant-type” dresses. No tight skirts or sweaters, no “extreme” hairdos or clothing styles. Shirts and blouses must be tucked in. Skirt lengths are to be at the top of the knee when standing.
If you wonder why they used quotes on “extremely form-fitting”, “fad” and “extreme”, it’s because they were probably quoting my Dad.
Midwesterners were always at least ten years behind on the newest fashions being worn on on the West and East coasts. By the time Hoosier teens found out who the Beatles were and fell in love with the Fab Four, they were breaking up. So, it was ironic that the school outlawed extreme hair styles in 1970 when many of the girls were still sporting ’60s beehives that scaled the ceiling tiles.
I never did wear the “hive.” That hairdo frightened me more than the Apollo 13 landing. I’d heard tales of horror about bugs burrowing and nesting in the ratted and sprayed coiffures.
The skirt length relegated to the top of the knees certainly would have made me LOL, had that been a known acronym in 1970. In truth, the skirts were so short that we had to hire first-graders to tie our shoes and pick up any change we dropped.
I remember lots of girls getting sent to the principal’s office so he could check and see if their skirts were too short (they were). I always wondered if he also checked to see if their skirts and sweaters were too tight. All I’m saying is some of those girls didn’t come back to class for a long time.
Short hemlines were always a problem, but as you can see, the administration forbade girls to wear anything but dresses and skirts — no bermudas, slacks, shorts or “pant-type” dresses.
Bermudas would have been much more modest than the miniskirts that let everyone see for themselves if we were wearing the appropriate panties for that particular day of the week.
Bermudas, by the way, were not a type of onion or triangle, a self-governed British colony or a semi-permanent area of high pressure found in The Atlantic Ocean. They were longer, fitted shorts that actually did go all the way to the knees. Interesting sidenote: In 1970 we could not say “go all the way” without lots of snickering and raised eyebrows.
The ’70s is the reason I can’t get too worked up about any outlandish fashions, hairdos, body piercings or tattoos that younger people are sporting today.
I had my day. Let them have theirs. We were young, carefree and it was glorious.
Even more so in form-fitting pegged pants, tight sweaters and miniskirts.
One crazy pandemic-induced hobby is baking bread. Well, for other people, not for me. I baked bread for my 4-H project in fifth grade, washed my hands of bread-baking and never looked back.
Another “bread” craze that I went through in the 1980s has made a ferocious comeback during the COVID-19 Era — Amish Friendship Bread (AFB).
If you’re unfamiliar with Amish Friendship Bread, then you either have no friends or friends who truly care about your mental health and well-being and have not offered you any of this neurotic-inducing yeast concoction.
Here’s how it works: You make the starter batter with yeast, flour, sugar and milk and then let it “grow” in a large baggie on your counter, taking care to “mash” and nourish and breast-feed the bread for ten consecutive days. Ok — just joking on the breast feeding. On day ten, you divide the starter dough into four or five 1-cup batches, keeping one for yourself and giving away the other starters to four or five of your friends.
Then you wait for your friends to “unfriend” you.
If any of your friends, upon seeing you standing on the doorstep with baggies of AFB starters, suddenly screams, makes the sign of the cross, throws a ring of garlic around her neck and slams the door in your face, you can be sure she has had a prior AFB experience, and now suffers from AFB PTSD.
My daughter’s friend — let’s call her Becky, ‘cause that’s her name — swears that her starter dough doubled or tripled in size as she slept. If there were three baggies when she went to bed, there would be 12 when she made her morning coffee. It creeped her out. She even called a priest to exorcise the AFB dough clones, to no avail.
Becky tried baking everything away, but that didn’t work. She was still left with one or two starter batches — which, to her horror, continued to grow — and she soon had 12 baggies of starter dough and 24 loaves of baked AFB on her counter. After the initial thrill of homemade bread (Who does that? Seriously?) Becky’s husband and son quickly grew weary of consuming Amish Friendship Bread, AFB lasagna, AFB tuna cupcakes and AFB WTF casserole.
I sympathize with Becky’s plight (although she better not bring that dough over here). I still have PTSD symptoms from trying to unload AFB on my (now former) friends back in the 80s. I too, tried to bake my way out of it, but my kids put their foot down when I tried to serve them AFB SpaghettiOs Pie.
Close to a nervous breakdown from trying to give away millions of AFB baggie starters to friends who said, “No way in hell!” and from trying to bake or use all of the starters, I tried to secretly throw away some of the starters, even though this caused immense guilt — children in Africa are starving! — but I swear it multiplied in the trash can, crawled out at night and chased my cat around the house before settling back on the counter in a gelatinous blob that greeted me in the morning with strange burping noises.
I paid my dues. Don’t be coming around pretending to be my friend while holding a bag of Amish Friendship Bread starter.
Friends don’t let friends give other friends Amish Friendship Bread Starter.
Since I’ve been “sheltering in place” I’ve made list after list of the things I would finally have time to get done.
I’ve done none of those things.
What have I done? Well, let’s see … I’ve eaten (a lot), slept (a lot) and uh, made lists (you know, a lot).
In my defense, I’m easily distracted. Take today, for instance. It took me a while, but once I figured out what that golden orb in the sky was, I broke into song, danced around the kitchen and put on my work clothes in anticipation of finally getting some yard work done.
I then got distracted and spent a good hour watching an ant try to climb out of the kitchen sink. I wish I was kidding.
I rinsed out my coffee cup and noticed an ant struggling in the rushing water. I turned off the water, but the little gal appeared to be dead. Just as I was about to swirl her into the garbage disposal, she began kicking her skinny, little stick legs (obviously, she had not been in self-quarantine) and began swimming — or drowning, I wasn’t sure which. I didn’t know if ants could swim, and lacking a proper ant life jacket, I did the next best thing and threw her a toothpick. In retrospect, the rounded toothpick was probably not a good choice. But, this insect chick was no dummy. She quickly moved from stern to bow — executing some “Dirty Dance” moves along the way — and deftly log-rolled it to the edge of the water.
When she hit the somewhat dry part of the sink, she abandoned the canoepick, collapsed and panted for a minute or two. She then used her front two legs to drag the rest of her water-soaked body to the edge of the sink, looked up, sighed and began her perilous ascent. She carefully made her way around each drop of water, because if she didn’t — which happened a number of times — the droplet would completely engulf the ant and send her sliding back into the sink basin. She would then have to regain her strength before going at it all over again. She never quit.
When she finally made it to the top, I scrapped all plans for squishing her. She deserved to live. I gently picked her up on the edge of a paper towel and carried her outside, placing her near some well-known and thriving ant condominiums in the back yard. I smiled as I pictured the ants having a parade to pay homage to the hero (ahem …) who bravely swooped in and saved the ant from certain death.
Before continuing with my plans, I decided to make lunch and eat it on the patio. Because God knows, I needed another meal. I was eating some grapes, swinging in the glider, when my attention turned from the ant and backyard flowers to the odd-shaped fruit I had just grabbed. Two grapes had grown together and well, at that point, I became a full-on fruit molester.
I pondered the “pair” quite a while and stared longer than necessary at the fruit breasts, which led me down a long, dark rabbit hole of wondering how many other fruit porn stars were hiding and doing obscene things in my fridge. I had long been suspicious of the zucchini and kohlrabi.
I leaned back on the glider and suddenly felt drowsy. After a day of saving an insect and worrying about the morals of my fruit, I was exhausted and decided to take a nap in the warm sun.
I would work on that list tomorrow.
So very many pandemic decisions every day:
Everywhere I turn He’s there. Breathing loudly and at times, unnecessarily.
Yesterday I hid in the sewing room, but He found me — even after I crouched under the sewing machine cabinet, covered with the black fur Halloween costume I’m sewing. He was not alarmed that there might be a bear in the house. He just wanted to know where the catsup was.
Are you kidding me? The catsup is in the same effing place it’s been in for 15 years!
Just as I was contemplating murder-by-condiment and how I’d get rid of the catsup stains, the doorbell rang. The Fed Ex man stepped back six feet from the box he had placed on my front porch.
“Just needed to see that you are over 21, no signature necessary,” he said, backing away.
I didn’t really have time to catch the innuendos in that remark from this 30-something-year-old guy — who obviously thought I was from the Paleolithic Era — because I was busy staring at the box. It came! My shipment of wine! I stopped myself from falling to my knees and thanking Jesus, the grape growers, pickers and stompers and delivery clerks around the world, lest the neighbors see me and call 911.
Life is good. I no longer care if He doesn’t know where the catsup is, ‘cause I know where the wine opener is.
I wipe down the box and open a bottle while it’s inside the box, tipping the entire cardboard case to pour it into my mouth, while Harper watches disapprovingly. She wants to play in the box and she doesn’t want it wine-stained, like every other hiding place in the house.
I’m feeling magnanimous. I smile at Him. We’ll have a toast to making it through yet one more day of breathing in the same very small, very tiny space. Cheers!
Day 14 of Extreme Social Distancing
3:10 a.m. — Finally fell asleep after binge-watching episodes 1-7 of the new season of “Ozark.”
7 a.m.— Woke up after dreaming I was driving to the levee — which was in the Ozarks — but the levee was dry, and now I can’t get “American Pie” out of my mind. Glanced at time, muttered, “Nah,” rolled over and went back to sleep.
9 a.m. — Woke up to Maya Angelou (Cat 1) sitting on my head and trying to pry my eyes open. “You have food,” I mutter to Maya and Harper Lee (Cat 2), who jumped on the bed in defense of her BFF. “Besides, all you two are doing is eating, laying around, binge-watching Netflix and getting fat. No more food.” Maya coughed up a hairball on my pillow and Harper looked at me slyly and slowly began kneading my belly fat.
Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own, And moss grows fat on a rolling stone, But, that’s not how it used to be …
9:10 a.m.— Debated on whether to put on real pants instead of pajama bottoms. Maybe even a bra? Nah.
9:30 a.m. Passed neurotic, anxious hubby, who was in the recliner watching 24/7 news and devouring a dozen brownies, harikari-style, with vodka chasers. Checked the pantry: Eight rolls of toilet paper left, but who’s counting?
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye, Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die …
10:05 a.m. —Sun came out for seven minutes, then it started raining. Fed both cats, made coffee, did back exercises, dashed outside in pajama pants and got the paper.
With every paper I’d deliver, Bad news on the doorstep, I couldn’t take one more step …
11 a.m. — Still raining. Wind kicked in, as well. Sent a group text and videos to the grandkids of me dancing in the kitchen to American Pie, blowing kisses, giving air hugs and playing Uno by myself to show how much I missed them. Sigh.
And I knew if I had my chance, That I could make those people dance, And maybe they’d be happy for awhile …
12 noon — Should be working. Deadlines looming. Maybe later. I’ve got all day. OK, just one more episode of Ozark and then I’ll get to work.
Did you write the book of love, And do you have faith in God above, If the Bible tells you so?
3:30 p.m.— Accidentally set out frozen cheesecake instead of frozen chicken to thaw. Watched the last three episodes of Ozark and started watching Tiger King. OMG. Can’t. Stop. Watching. This. Train. Wreck. Had entire cheesecake for dinner and ate a jar of Nutella with my fingers for dessert.
I can’t remember if I cried, When I read about his widowed bride, Something touched me deep inside, The day the music died …
2:30 a.m.— Geesh. Ten hours of my life. Gone. Did finish watching Netflix, though. I’ll start on Prime tomorrow — after I finish my work. Sent a group text to my kids and my siblings. Within 10 minutes had 38 notifications. No one is sleeping. Who am I kidding? Neither am I. Got up and tiptoed to pantry: Seven rolls of toilet paper left, but who’s counting?
Do you believe in rock and roll, Can music save your mortal soul, And can you teach me how to dance real slow …
I miss visiting with my friends and family in these days of COVID-19. Normally, we’d be getting together and having stimulating and ridiculous adult conversations like how old we were when we first heard the F word.
Nowadays it’s no big deal, but back in the 60s and 70s, that was “the baddest word in the world.” It wasn’t of course. It’s simply a word for sex that can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb and in many cases, to describe a dangling participle. But Americans are so squeamish about s-e-x.
It was 1962. I was 10, in the fifth grade.
An older (Read: 12) and much wiser-in-the-way-of-the-world girl showed me some graffiti on the back of the old, whitewashed cafeteria, which was near the playground, which was near my house.
“Do you know what that word means?” she said with a knowing look and raised eyebrows.
As a matter of fact, I didn’t. It was an interesting word that rhymed with a lot of other words and I liked words that rhymed: Duck. Cluck. Buck. Tuck. Suck. Muck.
“It means love,” she said.
I eyed the many times it was scrawled on the cafeteria, right next to “Jimmy + Lana” and “Delores + Steven” and “You are 2 good 2 be 4gotten.”
All of the graffiti related to love in some way. Except one that said, “Kill Jimmy Kartone.”
“Who is your boyfriend?” she asked.
I kind of liked David Persimmons, who sat behind me in music class, but he had no idea I lived, let alone that I sat in front of him in music class.
Although, he did once glance at me after my mom gave me a bad home perm and utter, “Ugh.”
“Here,” she said, and slipped a tube of red lipstick into my hand.
“Just write his first name if you don’t want to tell me,” The Older Girl-in-the-Know said. “It’s okay. Look. Everyone does it.”
Indeed, the entire side of the old building was covered with “love” messages.
Easily led and wanting to fit in — two traits that would lead me to trouble for most of my life — I took the lipstick and wrote Vivian F—- Dave and Dave F—- Vivian across the top of some older, faded “Roses are red …” verses.
We went back to the playground and I pretty much forgot about the incident.
That is, until one of the town’s policemen showed up at my house the next day.
I had not taken into account three factors:
My parents were humiliated, my brothers were in awe and I was forced to scrub off the cafeteria scribblings — all of them.
I was confused, embarrassed and I still had absolutely no idea what I had written and why everyone was so upset.
I wanted to die with Jimmy Kartone.
Worse, I could not explain it to my parents.
How could I explain that I didn’t really love — or f—, whatever that meant? — David, I only kind of liked him? Which only meant — if he kind of liked me — we might hold hands briefly during the annual Turtle Days Festival.
I thought about trying to blame it on Scarlett O’Hara, the only other Vivian I knew, but she spelled Vivian with an e. Besides, she was in Hollywood undergoing multiple shock treatments — an ironclad alibi.
A week later, I asked another girl who was a teenager what the word really meant and she told me.
Pow. Another defining moment.
“A boy and girl do WHAT?!”
“Oooh … disgusting.”
“And people like this?”
“There is no way that’s how I was born. No way.”
My Mom and Dad’s Sunday naps were suddenly suspect.
I had to write, “I am sorry I wrote bad words on the cafeteria” 300 times, but I wasn’t too upset.
I was too busy being glad that our school system had a lot of boys named David.
This is a Christmas Day photo of my family. Large effing family you may think if you’re as profane as me, but wait — there are 14 missing. Which may give you an idea of how hard it is for me to isolate myself from my family. They are everywhere. Like rabbits.
My brother Bob told me that on his daily lone walkabouts, he noticed the most crowded parking lots in town were the grocery stores, liquor stores and the gun shop. Whoa! Hold up there — the gun shop?
“OMG!” I said to my brother. “We don’t own a gun. People are going to kill us and steal our toilet paper!”
And Bob, in his usual upbeat way said, “Yes, they will kill you, steal your Netflix account password and all your toilet paper, take all of Brian’s beef and pork and leave your gluten-free shit behind. Then they’ll barbecue your cats in the backyard.”
Bob can paint a picture.
My son, who lives near D.C. and legitimately utilizes guns in his work has been — jokingly? not jokingly? — warning about a possible Zombie Apocalypse for years. We all laughed at him. I laughed at him. No one’s laughing now.
I’ve informed my family that when the zombies come, I’d like what’s left of me to be cremated — along with my leftover gluten-free bread crumbs — and loosely scattered in the gun shop parking lot.
I’ve procrastinated a long time before launching this blog, but now seems to be the perfect time.
I came to this conclusion yesterday, after I downed a glass of wine at 11 a.m. and spontaneously started yelling overly enthusiastic greetings out my front door at neighbors who have never met me as they walked their children and dogs on the other side of the street. It was a desperate attempt to talk to a human being, any human being, face to face, albeit 125 feet away.
Most of them glanced my way then quickly slid their necks down inside their parkas and scurried down the sidewalk, as though I was “that” woman on the block. Hell, we all know who “that” woman on the block is. She’s the one who hoards egg cartons and dental floss and feeds her leftover vegetables to the millions of rabbits that have proliferated and taken over the neighborhood.
Yikes. That might be me.
Moving on. I’m in the designated age group most likely to die from the coronavirus. The one who might be refused treatment because there’s not enough equipment to save everyone. The one the doctors will look at, raise one eyebrow and ask in a perplexed tone, “Seriously, you want to live?”
I do, actually.
This option of seniors throwing up their arms and saying, “Take me, take me!” really came to light after the lieutenant governor of Texas suggested grandparents would be willing to die to save the country’s economy during the coronavirus crisis. What the …
I definitely wasn’t consulted on this, nor were any of my friends. We’re going to need more specifics. Exactly whose wealth are we are dying for? Cause we know it ain’t ours. Do we have to flatline completely or can we just get seriously ill and make a comeback — ala Pet Cemetery — when the economy springs back to its feet?
Is this grandparental suicide pact limited only to the coronavirus? Or, is there a chance an earmark could be slipped into the Die Seniors Die Dammit Sen. Bill 666 and expanded to include indigestion, knee replacements and gout?
I don’t know, I’m torn. I’m a patriot, but I kind of want to live. I’ve got a new grandchild coming in October, for God’s sake, and I just ordered new laminate flooring for the utility room. It took months to decide on the color — not too light as to show all the dirt and not so dark that it looks like a prison cell. What I’m saying is that I’m looking forward to rocking my new grandson and to my new Creamy Oak Cappuccino flooring rocking my utility room.
It wouldn’t bother me as much if it wasn’t just old, white male politicians suggesting this harakiri crap. I don’t see any people of color or younger people suggesting we line up for cremation in order to bail out the big banks and stockholders. But then again, my black friends are my age and my kids might be timid about telling me to die, just die.
I’ll give it some thought and mull it over. In the meantime, I’m going to pour another glass of wine and yell out the front door at people I don’t know.
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