Sad Underpants

After my grandmother died, my mom and I went through her things. My grandfather, too grief-stricken at the time, could not face it. We began upstairs, going through the two bedrooms and the attic. Stacks of still-fragrant linens lay in an old hutch, and we divided up things that different relatives might want, and kept a few items for ourselves.

Downstairs was the hardest, especially the parlor where we had Christmas every year. There were French doors that opened from it into my grandparents’ bedroom, and we began going through her closet and bureau. I found her ancient silver pot of rouge and laughed, thinking of how Ba (our pet name for her) would carefully rub a tiny bit of it on her cheekbones before going out, which she seldom did. Then I began to wonder how old that pot of rouge might be.

I heard Mom open a drawer in the closet and then heard her laughing. I went to her and found her holding a pair of brand-new black lace underpants, with the tag still on. Well, first we laughed our heads off, then we cried. When we could finally control ourselves, we laughed again.

Ba was a practical woman, preferring to wear cotton dresses and skirts she made herself. She spent most of her time in her many flower gardens, in the kitchen and in her hobby room, or, we called it; the “Oh, dear!” room. She died with many hobbies left unfinished, and was always starting something new. Consequently, there was literally everything everywhere.

But all I could think of for the rest of that day was what in the world was Ba saving that brand-new pair of undies for? I’m sure that her thinking was as practical as always, ‘oh, I’ll save those for later; they’re too good for everyday wear.’

So, there they were, brand new unworn underpants, for a woman to whom death came much too soon. I’m sure she thought she would eventually wear them, but never did.

Isn’t that an alert to us all? What in the heck are we waiting for? Those sad underpants have been a reminder to me all my life to enjoy each day, live as fully as possible, and to NOT wait for special occasions to wear or use this/that/or the other thing that’s “too good” for every day. I even use the gorgeous cut-glass pickle dish Ba’s people brought to America from Galway, Ireland. It’s not in the least bit practical, but it’s beautiful, and I love it for its looks and its history.

So, lesson to us all: let’s not leave this earth leaving ‘sad underpants.’

 

 

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Maybe It’s Time to Talk…

This is a commercial I just saw: a man and a woman are sitting together in a nice restaurant. All around them, couples are busily texting and checking their phones and devices; everyone in the restaurant is busy looking down. The man is the only one looking up, actually focusing on the woman sitting across from him.

We notice that the man has a long black velvet box beside him on the seat. He politely asks his wife/girlfriend, “Honey, could you please look up?” But no, she is much too busy texting. He puts the box on the table, and then sends this text to her device: “Honey, could you please look up?”

Wonder of wonders, she actually does and sees the box. She opens it to find a gorgeous bracelet. Then the music comes up and we see the happiness in her eyes, then a plug for the bracelet and where to buy it, then fade to black.

Well–I couldn’t wait to tell the Crankee Yankee (AKA my husband) about it. As we were both raised in the ’50s, technology is still new to us and has not become a vital part of our lives. (Goodness me, we actually write letters on paper and send them via the real, not virtual, mail!) We still call people on the land line, chat up friends and family and talk face-to-face–in short, we are one step up from communicating via chisel and stone tablet. So, to us non-hip folks, this commercial came off as kind of sad.

But the Crankee Yankee came up with a great way to re-vamp it. Once he told me, I laughed my head off. The following is what we thought would be a great message. Here it is:

A man and a woman are sitting together in a nice restaurant. All around them, couples are busily texting and checking their phones and devices; everyone in the restaurant is busy looking down. The man is the only one looking up, actually focusing on the woman sitting across from him.We notice that the man has a long black velvet box beside him on the seat. He politely asks his wife/girlfriend, “Honey, could you please look up?” But no, she is much too busy texting.

He looks around, and catches no one’s eye. He sighs, drops his hand to his side and picks up the long black velvet box. He checks one more time–no one is looking at anyone. Everyone, even the waiters, are staring at their devices, typing and texting. The man sighs again, opens the box and presses a red button inside.

BEEEEEEEOOOOOP! Suddenly all devices are deactivated. Everyone looks up blankly. No one’s device is working, and we start to hear people murmuring and looking around at each other.

The following message rolls across the screen: “Maybe it’s time to TALK.”

I swear, sometimes that man of mine is a genius.

Praise to the Unipiper

The other night I happened to catch the Jimmy Kimmel show. One of his guests was Brian Kidd, a nice-looking young guy from Portland, OR who is locally known as The Unipiper. He is famous for helping the local slogan “Keep Portland Weird” to stay alive and well.

His particular claim to fame is that he learned to play the bagpipes, found a unicycle in a dumpster, has a friend who knows how to add pyrotechnics to just about anything, and is a Darth Vader fan. He managed to put all these disparate elements together to make a pretty unforgettable piece of performance art.

On Jimmy Kimmel’s show, he donned his Darth Vader helmet, hopped on his unicycle, and began playing the Star Wars theme on his bagpipes. Every few seconds he pressed a big button on the side of his belt and flames shot out of the ends of his bagpipes!

Well–I was speechless. I laughed until I nearly passed out. Not only do I love bagpipe music, but anyone riding a unicycle has my ready laugh and my admiration. And flames shooting out of bagpipes? Genius! Oh, yes–and I also love Star Wars.

These past few weeks have been challenging for my family in several ways, but this earnest, sweet young guy absolutely made my day! Seriously, I could watch Brian Kidd’s performance every day.

It’s easy enough to find this clip online, and I highly recommend it to anyone needing some cheer during these dark and cold winter months. How could anyone possibly stay in a bad mood after seeing this?

Good on ya, Brian! Keep up the good work!

 

 

One of Those Monty Python Moments…

Does anyone remember the scene in Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail” where the king wants his not-so-bright guards to keep his idiot son from leaving the castle? Here’s the dialogue:

“FATHER (KING): Make sure the Prince doesn’t leave this room until I come and get him.

GUARD: Not … to leave the room … even if you come and get him.

FATHER: No. Until I come and get him.

GUARD: Until you come and get him, we’re not to enter the room.

FATHER: No … You stay in the room and make sure he doesn’t leave.

GUARD: … and you’ll come and get him.

FATHER: That’s right.

GUARD: We don’t need to do anything, apart from just stop him entering the room.

FATHER: Leaving the room.

GUARD: Leaving the room … yes.

FATHER: Got it?

GUARD: Er … if … we … er …  (trying to remember what he was going to say).

FATHER: Look, it’s simple. Just stay here and make sure he doesn’t leave the room. Right?

GUARD: Oh, I remember … can he … er … can he leave the room with us?

FATHER (carefully): No …. keep him in here … and make sure he doesn’t …

GUARD: Oh, yes! we’ll keep him in here, obviously. But if he had to leave and we were with him.

FATHER: No … just keep him in here.

GUARD: Until you, or anyone else …

FATHER: No, not anyone else – just me.

GUARD: Okay. Fine. We’ll remain here until you get back.

FATHER And make sure he doesn’t leave.

GUARD What?”

Well, my mom and dad and I shared a similar moment together this week. I was staying overnight with them since Mom and I had a class together that evening. It was very cold that night, and the three of us were going to go out to dinner before Mom and I had to leave for class. It’s hard to get a good parking space at the bookstore where classes are held, so our plan was to take two cars. That way we’d get a good spot, and have dinner together at the restaurant. Easy-peasy, right? Um–no.

My dad, who is famous for his logical mind and problem-solving skills, started what turned out to be a truly Python-esque dialogue, which went something like this:

DAD: “So, I’ll drive my car to the restaurant, and Jane, you drive Mom to the bookstore and get a good parking spot.”

MOM: “No, because then Jane and I will have to walk back to the restaurant in the cold.”

ME: “Dad, you take Mom in your car, and I’ll drive Mom’s car, go to the bookstore and park in a good spot, then I’ll walk up to the restaurant and meet you both there.”

DAD: “Well, how about we take all three cars?”

MOM: “Why would we do that?”

DAD: “Because the last time you two went to class, you weren’t sure you felt well enough to stay for the whole class. Remember you didn’t get much sleep the night before? So we took three cars so that you could leave the class when you wanted to.”

MOM: “But I’m going to stay for this class.”

ME: “Look, it’s simple. We don’t need three cars. Dad, just take Mom to the restaurant and I’ll meet you there.”

DAD: “Ok, so Mom will drive and you go with her, and you get a good parking spot, and meet me at the restaurant.”

MOM: “NO! It’s cold and I don’t want to walk from the bookstore to the restaurant.”

ME: “So I’ll take Mom’s car, park it in a good spot at the bookstore, then walk up and meet you two at the restaurant.”

DAD: “Well, Mom can drive you both to the bookstore then and find a good parking spot.”

ME: “No, that would mean she would have to walk with me in the cold to the restaurant.”

MOM: “It doesn’t matter who drives–just as long as I can go into the restaurant and not have to walk in the cold.”

DAD: “So do you want to drive with me or Jane? Or do you want to just take Jane’s car?”

MOM: “I–well, it’s doesn’t matter; hers, mine, whatever. Jane, do you want to take your car or mine?”

ME: “Let’s take yours because I have stuff on the passenger seat, plus my car’s been sitting out in the cold, not in the garage like yours.”

DAD: “Which of you is driving?”

MOM and ME: “IT DOESN’T MATTER!”

ME: “Just so we’re clear: I will drive Mom’s car to the bookstore, park in a good spot, then walk up and meet you two at the restaurant.”

DAD: “So Mom will drive in my car with me.”

MOM and ME: “YES!”

By this time, the three of us were laughing so hard we could barely breathe. Dad, who usually saves his laughing-so-hard-he-wheezes-and-slaps-his-legs routine only for Tim Conway, just about fell off the couch shaking with hilarity. Mom and I had tears of laughter streaming down our faces, trying to control ourselves. We sat there and howled like insane wolves.

I gasped, “It’s a friggin’ Monty Python skit!!”

So it was, but I’m happy to say that we ended up in two cars; Mom and Dad together in his–and me, driving Mom’s car to the bookstore (I got a prime spot, too). I was the only one to have to walk in the cold to the restaurant, but I kept warm because I was still laughing!

 

Tweezing and Freezing in the Northeast

As you may know, we in the Northeast are experiencing our second polar vortex (I could have lived without knowing that word, also “wind chill” and “heat index”). Some of us are sneezing, others are wheezing, all of us are freezing, and I myself am tweezing. I’ll explain.

A friend of my mother’s received a birthday gift of an unexpected nature this year; light-up tweezers. She was less than delighted.

However, my mom and I immediately thought, ‘wow–great gift!’ Now that I’m old enough to 1) have gone through menopause (a fast depilatory all over, let me tell you) and 2) have had cataract surgery in one eye, I really appreciate a good pair of tweezers. So, being that the only hair I have that still grows is on my head, toe knuckles and around my mouth, light-up tweezers sounded GREAT.

Mom got a *pair for herself and a pair for me. I am now a tweezing fool. I was more than a little horrified to find that what I’d once thought were harmless and unnoticeable hairs beside my lips were actually dark. I’m sure that anyone younger than me has already been sickened or stricken with laughter about them; I just plain didn’t see them. But now that I do, I have the perfect weapon for those little suckers.

Honestly, those tweezers are fabulous. They may sound as tacky as light-up slippers (which, now that I’m older, actually don’t sound as corny as they used to), but boy–do they work!

Of course, if you don’t mind having that little Fu Manchu mustache, then by all means, go natural. As for me, a-tweezing I will go!

* “Tweezers” are another one of those odd nouns that, like pants, are single at the top and plural on the bottom.

All the “Things” We Are

We women are many things. We are “cute little things” as babies, grow into “sweet little things,” and then on to “smart young things.” As we develop lives of our own, we become “lovely things.” Older still, we are “capable things.” Then it’s straight on to “dear old things.”

However, the “thing” that we are, at any stage of our lives, is always good. As older women, we can finally appreciate our young selves. All those real or imagined flaws we fussed about as teenagers seem so insignificant now. We have come to realize that, not only were we beautiful, but we were so much more than our looks. We were not just pretty faces and bodies, or all the “A” papers we turned in, or how many friends we had, or how we styled our hair–we see it now as the ephemera it truly was. The women we are today came from the girls we used to be.

Every time I see a commercial for “fuller, longer, sexier lashes,” I laugh, remembering how much that used to mean to me. I think about how I agonized each day in high school about what to wear–and how little it really mattered. But everyone at that time was young and scared, and of course we were only thinking about ourselves. It’s very likely that no one else BUT us cared about how we looked.  But of course, there were exceptions.

I remember a day when a girl who wasn’t really a part of any specific “crowd” showed up at school wearing a curly white wig. It was so odd in our narrow little minds that it quickly became fodder for laughter (and a brief moment of collective agreement) and ridicule. By noontime, the wig had disappeared, but not her red face. I’m sure that this is a  memory that has stayed with this poor woman for years. And of course, we always tend to remember all the horrible moments in our lives for far too long.

All those memories that have haunted us have hopefully lost their power over the years. I used to feel as if I had so many embarrassing moments in my life that I would never get over them. I did, though, and I used this simple formula (spoken out loud): “I was a child then–I know better now.” You wouldn’t berate a child all the way into adulthood for a simple childish mistake, would you? Then let’s not do it to ourselves. Forgive that child and let all that stored-up hurt and embarrassment go. We no longer need it.

The wonderful thing we have become does not need old, sad thoughts any longer, nor do we need to rehash the past. The past is truly past, and as long as we’ve learned from it, it’s ok to let it go. Doing so leaves room in our minds and hearts to be more of the person we’ve become; we would not be that but for the person we once were.

So let’s agree to thank that young thing we were, hug her in love and forgiveness, and let her go on her merry way–light, free and unburdened. So may our present and future be–light, free and unburdened.

Fat Cruelty

What exactly is “fat cruelty?” Here’s how I see it: people who are overweight for whatever reason are a target for bullying, cheap laughs and downright cruelty. It’s as if being overweight is the height of social crime, therefore making that person somehow deserving of scorn and ridicule. Favorite words to define a person’s weight range anywhere from “sloppy,” “stupid,” “gross,” “lazy,” “smelly,” “piggish,” “greedy,” “slovenly,” and worse.

We all know that there are many reasons for excess weight, encompassing everything from how people were raised, health conditions, ignorance, bad choices, emotional issues, and so on. It speaks poorly of us as a society if we find making fun of someone overweight common fodder for all those sad and hackneyed jokes.

Why is this behavior acceptable? It is every bit as cruel and pointing fingers and laughing at someone in a wheelchair, a mentally retarded person, or a baby born with a harelip. I’m sure that many people would say, “Well, that’s very sad, but they can’t help it if they were born that way. But an overweight person CAN help it and chooses NOT to.”

That’s an easy answer, and in many cases I’m sure it’s true. But it’s not true for everyone. I was a skinny baby, a skinny child, and a thin teenager. My weight stayed the same for years, and I never thought twice about it. Clothes of any kind looked great on me, and I took my size for granted. I could eat anything, and did. I could eat huge quantities of food, and did–and never gained an ounce. I, too, thought that people who were overweight could help themselves ‘if they just tried.’ But at that blissfully ignorant time in my life, I personally had not understood what it was like to BE overweight.

In my mid-thirties, my habits caught up with me. Add this to shall we say, some pretty bad choices in relationships and jobs, and pretty soon I was putting on weight. Food comforted me, and became an easy drug. However, I had always been an exercise freak, so for years I could balance over-eating with constant exercise. But unless you have extraordinary genes and lifelong good habits, this way of life can, and for me, did–fail.

At age 50, I was heavier than I had ever been, newly divorced and on my own again. I still exercised regularly, and that made me feel better. But I hadn’t yet learned how to retrain my brain to work on self esteem and why my eating habits were what they were. Oh, I could go on and on about a cheating husband, a couple of major surgeries, bad times, blah, blah, blah–we have all had bad times and bad relationships, and I am nothing special. My weight issues are a reflection of how I felt about myself, and I am fully responsible. I blame no one but myself.

Decades ago, it was very common for a stigma to be attached to anyone who went to a psychologist. It was considered a weakness; something you would never want anyone else to know. It was something shameful to be hidden from view. Hopefully we have evolved beyond that narrow viewpoint.

The next frontier to be crossed is the ‘I’m thinner than you, nyah, nyah, nyah’ issue. Here are some truths I’ve learned:

  • Pointing out to someone that they are fat is useless. Don’t you think that they KNOW that?
  • Unless someone is ready to change, they will not change.
  • If the overweight person ASKS for help, then give it kindly and helpfully.
  • If the overweight person DOES NOT ASK for help, then shut up.
  • Burdening an overweight person with your own fears about their health does not help. It merely adds guilt to shame.
  • If talking to someone about their weight would make them any thinner, then would it be helpful. But only then.
  • Shaming someone into losing weight is hitting way below the belt. Bullying them is even worse.
  • Unasked for opinions are just that–UNASKED FOR.
  • Getting angry at someone for being overweight is worse than cruel.
  • Gently expressing your concern about someone’s weight is kind. Do it ONCE and then back off.

The worst thing in my opinion is the careful story about ‘somebody’ someone knows who put on weight and then they couldn’t find a man or woman to love them, a job they liked, they had no confidence, etc. But most of all, the ones telling these oh-so-careful stories make sure that an overweight person is right there, hearing every word. As if hearing that story will make them jump up, hold their hands to the heavens, proclaiming “I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT! I WILL GO FORTH AND OVEREAT NO MORE!”

Bullying an overweight person is not only cruel, but it reflects badly on the bully. Trust me on this: those who bully, will eventually get what’s coming to them. Remember: bad karma out, bad karma IN.

So you might ask me at this point, “How are YOU doing with your weight?” Answer: Actually, I’m doing pretty well. Although I can’t jump on the scale yelling “WHOOPEE!” yet, I have no doubt that I eventually will. My attitude toward myself–and everything that IS me–began to change. It began with my reading books like “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,” by Deepak Chopra, “The China Study,” by T. Collin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II, and “What Are You Hungry For?” by Deepak Chopra. My metaphysical classes in the past two years has helped to open my eyes  about the mind-body-spirit connection, as did my Reiki I training. I began to see myself as a whole being, not as simply a body. Who I am is not just my weight. I am living my life now better than I ever have, and taking care of my body is a part of it.

Although I gave up sugar two years ago, I sometimes give in to a cookie. When that happens, I feel like french-fried crap. It’s a pretty good reminder of why I gave it up in the first place. These days I think more about what I eat and what it does to my body. I have learned to respect that elegant machine that holds my soul and allows me to walk upright and feel good. Weight loss will come when it comes, but that is not my main reason for living better. My main reason IS to live better.

It took me a long while to write and then post this on Luluopolis. I almost didn’t, but I have heard one story too many about overweight people being ridiculed in public and in private NOT to tell my own story. Take from it what you will.

I am a work in progress, as are we all.