Sometimes You Don’t Need to Apologize

Does anyone else love reading http://www.etiquettehell.com as I do? In a nutshell, it’s all about situations where etiquette should be used but often isn’t. It’s sort of a cross between Dear Abby and the basic terms of etiquette that our parents and grandparents taught us.

I am often gobstruck by the rudeness and selfishness of some people. It appears that common decency and manners have truly gone by the wayside.

But one post on http://www.etiquettehell.com really rang true for me, which is why I am posting it here. As a young woman, I often let rudeness or even downright scary behavior go by the wayside because I was afraid of offending someone. What I didn’t think of back then was this: you do NOT have to put up rudeness, abuse or anything or anyone who makes you uncomfortable.

Read on and see if you agree.

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“I recently went on a date that left me feeling, for lack of a better word, icky.

My date with, let’s call him Jeff, was arranged by a friend. Jeff was an old buddy of her husband’s and had recently moved back into town. We texted back and forth and he seemed nice and polite, and we agreed to meet for a drink at a pub I know rather well. The date was for late in the evening as I had a work commitment and agreed to meet him afterward.

Jeff was already seated when I arrived. We ordered our drinks, and chatted while waiting for them to arrive. The conversation was odd, I’m not even sure how to describe it, but it was more like talking to a nervous fourteen year old than a man in his late thirties. I attributed it to first date jitters. He suggested a few times that we order some “entrees”, and I thought that a lot of food for so late in the evening. I eventually realized that he meant “appetizers”. I opted to stick with just a drink. He also suggested, several times, that we could go back to his place for a drink instead. Again, I declined.

When the waitress arrived with our drinks I removed my jacket to get more comfortable. Jeff very blatantly stared at my chest and said “WOW!” Now, I was not wearing anything revealing, and there was no reason (and there never should be) to make such a proclamation. I quickly pulled my jacket back on, told him that he had just made me very uncomfortable, and said a hasty good-night.

A younger me may have stuck around and finished my drink for fear of seeming impolite. I have learned that you do not need to keep yourself in an uncomfortable situation because of etiquette, and it is quite possible to exit such a situation gracefully.”

My Granddaughters, My Teachers

I never had children of my own, but luckily I have granddaughters. I knew early on in my life that I was not “mom material;” I just couldn’t see it for me. I never felt that I just had to have children. I had all I could do to manage my own life; I felt I was too selfish to bring a child into the world.

As my friends married and had children, I enjoyed visiting them and playing with them. But always when I left I would be in awe of mothers and fathers everywhere. I don’t care what anyone says—raising a child to be a good, decent person is hard work.

Each and every time the Crankee Yankee and I visit our grandgirls we are willing slaves to whatever they want to do. Ava, who is in the first grade, always wants me to hear her read out loud. As an avid reader myself, I rejoice inside at every word. When she comes to a word she can’t pronounce, we sound it out together.

As Ava has a loving and generous heart, she “teaches” her little sister, Juliette, who is almost two years old, what she learns in school. Just as Ava was at that age, Juliette wants to learn everything. When we are all tired of reading, we color or make houses with Lincoln Logs. Most of the fun is when we sneak up on each other’s “house” and knock it down, laughing fiendishly.

Over the years, I realize that my heart has more than enough room in it for everyone in my *ohana: family members and friends.

My granddaughters teach me that love has no boundaries, no walls, no barbed-wire fences. I am sure that one day there may be a time when they are too old (or too ‘cool’) to run to us, arms out, yelling “Grampy!” and “Lulu!” But today, thank God, they still show that pure and sweet love that surrounds us with heart-breaking beauty and happiness.

They don’t know it yet, but they are the teachers who show us how incredibly wonderful life can be. And we are the happy students who benefit from their teaching.

“Ohana – Hawaiian word for all people who aren’t strictly blood-related, but become family through love and affection. If you are a fan of the movie “Lilo and Stitch,” you will know the phrase, “ohana means family, and no one gets left behind.”

Ooops–It Did It Again!

Sorry for no posts yesterday and today; our computer decided to have a tantrum. After some telephone coaching from my wonderful tech guy, it’s back up and running. At least this time I didn’t do my usual frustrated gorilla move: pounding on all the keys at once and swearing….

See you tomorrow unless I get another ghost in the machine….ain’t technology wonderful?

 

What Our Tears Are Telling Us

Many people are easy criers; I’m one of them. I cry sad tears and happy tears; sometimes for no reason. You can say that tears are simply a relief valve, but they are more than that. Often what our tears are telling us is that we need a release; a break, a time-out. Tears are often a response to sadness, pain, worry, fear, doubt; they come to cleanse the wounds we carry.

There are sad tears and happy tears, laughter tears and angry tears. A long time ago I realized that I was an easy crier, which made me a better writer. Emotions often block my ability to speak, so I write.

Some say that tears are a sign of weakness; that we can’t control our emotions. I say that tears are a sign of strength and release. I used to be ashamed of my easy crying and felt it was a weakness; I hated to have anyone see me cry.

But during my life some events have brought me to my knees and the only way to survive them is to cry. The Crankee Yankee is always wonderful about this, and says that it’s not a bad thing to wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve. After nearly 16 years of marriage, those words have helped me through all the tears I could not hold back.

I believe that our tears are akin to a pot of boiling water. When the pot heats up, bubbles form and jump up to the surface. So do our tears that spring from our eyes when we just can’t contain whatever emotion brought them on.

The ridiculously happy tears are another story all together. When we met our first granddaughter, Ava, there were happy and joyous tears. Two years ago, when Ava’s little sister, Juliette, was born, she was in the NICU for a few weeks. There were many anxious and worried tears; which turned into happy tears when she was able to come home, safe and healthy.

Over the years I’ve learned to just let go when I feel teary. There’s nothing wrong with a good cry, and after I do cry, I can almost hear my whole system go “ahhhhhh!” Often that’s the “reset” button I need to go on with my day. There’s no stigma on crying except for the ones we put on ourselves. So, as we like to say in our house, “*let it go, Elsa!”

*From the Disney movie, “Frozen.”

 

 

What Not to Do in Our Sixties

Note: I wrote a post a few years ago about this, and the following is a shorter and revised version.

There’s a lot to be said for being in your sixties; after all, aren’t they calling 60 the “new 40?” Works for me! For one thing, we are living longer and better lives and there are so many things available now that weren’t 20 years ago.

These days we can get our knees, hips and shoulders replaced if we need to. These days cancer is not the boogeyman it used to be. These days we are realizing more and more the value in our lives.

To that end, retirement becomes a whole new world. If you like, this can be a time to do things you couldn’t do before. The following are some ideas:

  • Travel–even taking a day trip up in the mountains will give you a refreshing change of pace.
  • Devote yourself to a really fun hobby–you pick.
  • Mentor someone.
  • Read at least one great classic.
  • Listen to some really good music each day.
  • Change your attitude and bloom where you’re planted.
  • Never tried surfing  or paddle boarding? Try it now. If you fall, you’re only falling into water.
  • Join a book club.
  • At least once a day, put yourself first.
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter or wherever you like. The rewards are tremendous.
  • Start walking, either alone or in a group. Not only is it good and gentle exercise, but you start noticing so much around you. I call them Appreciation Walks.
  • Speaking of the above, invest in some really good walking shoes. They are well worth the cost.
  • Speaking of that above, buy better-made (read that more expensive) shoes. They will feel better, last longer and be comfortable far longer. Better to have one great pair of shoes for $100 than ten pairs of cheap shoes for $10 each.
  • Make a date at least once a month with a few of your best friends. Go out to lunch, go shopping, pack a lunch and sit on the rocks facing the ocean. Before you go your separate ways, make the next date.
  • Get a pet.
  • Keep a journal.
  • This is the age around which we begin to lose our parents. We may end up caring for them ourselves. This is a tough and often heartbreaking job, but it can be a time to make peace, let old issues go, enjoy simple conversations, and so on. When the parent(s) pass on, take the time to grieve and breathe. This is a time when not only your family, but your old friends as well can be your safe harbor.
  • Go through your home and weed out the clutter (Note to self: this one’s for ME). Make a Donate pile, a Yard Sale pile, a Throw-away pile and a Give to Relatives pile. This, along with making your will and getting your important papers in order, is a gift to your children or whoever will be caring for you.
  • Move on! Don’t waste your time on a bad relationship, a bad job, a bad book or movie, or a bad situation. You don’t get points for hanging on.
  • Always wanted to dump your late grandmother’s old fur coat? Donate it. Where Grandma is now, she’ll not only understand, but approve.
  • If you’re comfortable with it, become a hugger.
  • Treat yourself to a good massage at least once a month.
  • If you are able, dance and sing as much as possible.
  • Take some classes; Chinese cooking, painting, Tai Chi, gardening, pottery, jewelry-making, etc.

There are, however, things that really should be avoided at this age, such as:

  • Do not under any circumstances try the latest dance craze in public. (OMG–is there anything sadder and creepier than seeing a 70-year twerk?) You will embarrass yourself, your children and grandchildren. People watching will feel uncomfortable pity for you. If you persist and do this anyway, you’d better have a one-way ticket for Costa Rica for the next day. You won’t want to be around for the backlash.
  • Do not wear ridiculously high heels. You’ll fall and break a hip.
  • Do not wear bright red, orange or purple lipstick–you’ll look like a creepy clown.
  • Do not put a mirror on your lap and look down. (Trust me on this one–do it by yourself and you will be horrified by how cruel gravity can be.)
  • Do not natter on and on endlessly about how much better things were when you were growing up, or at least choose your audience well. (But this can also be a great topic for old friend get-togethers).
  • Do not put your butt over your head unless you are 1) extremely limber, 2) practice yoga on a daily basis, and 3) do not have low blood pressure.
  • Do not be surprised when you fart each time you bend over. That’s the true sound of the ’60s.
  • Do not believe those ads that promise you that their gel/cream/serum/lotion, etc. will make you look instantly younger. They won’t. The only thing they will do is to lighten your wallet. Just stick to a good skin care routine.
  • Do NOT use teenage lingo, and quit saying “awesome” or peppering your sentences with “like.”
  • Stop whining about how pretty you used to be. You’re fabulous the way you are RIGHT NOW.
  • Do not bring up hot flashes, night sweats or prolapsed bladder issues with anyone other than your true friends. Believe me, no one else wants to hear about them.

Most of all, let’s embrace our age, and let go of the my-oh-my-how-my-looks-have-changed attitude. Ever hear this apt little verse by Edward Lear?

“As a beauty I’m not a great star,
There are others more handsome by far,
But my face, I don’t mind it,
Because I’m behind it.
It’s those out in front that I jar.”

So let’s make friends with the mirror and enjoy who we are right now.

No More Personal Martyrdom

I wrote this a few years back, and have updated it since. I believed then as I do now, that it’s perfectly OK to put yourself first now and then. Why not? Your car won’t move an inch without gas in it, neither can you constantly give without “refueling” now and then. It doesn’t have to be that you clean out the bank and fly off to Vegas. It only means that it’s all right to do something nice for yourself now and then.

So in the spirit of being nice to ourselves now and then, it’s perfectly fine for you to do any and all of the following:

Take that last piece of pizza.

Watch the TV show YOU want to watch.

Turn up your nose at the burned slice of toast; throw it to the birds and make yourself a fresh one.

Go get yourself a manicure/pedicure/massage/bubble bath/whatever tickles your fancy.

Have an adventure.

Go see a movie you really want to see; don’t wait for someone else to agree to go with you–just GO.

Treat yourself to one of those fancy-schmancy lattes.

Go hide somewhere with a favorite book, and don’t come out until you want to.

Remember that funky ring you saw for $30? Go buy it and wear it.

Turquoise, red, purple and green tooled leather clogs? If you love them (more importantly, if your FEET love them), buy them before someone else does.

…and go and do all those things you want to do, but have been delaying in order to put someone else first.

And please note that I am NOT going to qualify all the above with some politically-correct statement about being responsible, blah, blah, blah–you know what I’m talking about. I know you’re not going to steal food from your children, spend the car payment money on a new pair of leather boots, etc. This is just a reminder that it is perfectly fine for you to make yourself Number One for a change.

You matter!

The Restaurant Gripe Du Jour

The other night the Crankee Yankee and I went out to dinner at a new place (opened in December). We’d been there a few times before, enjoyed the food, the service and the atmosphere. It’s sort of a mix of elegant pub and date-night dining, and the atmosphere is welcoming.

However, I have a few gripes—not only for this restaurant, but restaurants in general.

Gripe 1: We arrived around 4:30 at the restaurant I mentioned to avoid a crowd. About ten minutes later, we had a young father with a screaming and coughing baby near us. As we started our meal, a family of five sat down at the table next to us. Granted, the kids weren’t babies, but they were loud and whiny. So we gave each other the “waddayagonnado” look, and just ate our food and left.

Seriously, I can’t be the only person who doesn’t like hearing wailing babies and yappy kids at a decent restaurant. As there used to be smoking sections and non-smoking sections (way back in the dark ages), it seems to me there ought to be a “family” section far, far away and perhaps in a soundproof area.

Look, I get it that parents need the occasional night out. I also get it that the noise level is so entrenched in their heads that the volume of the screeching, yelling and crying may no longer register with the parents. However, the rest of us who came out for a nice dinner do not appreciate it.

Gripe 2: Then there is the issue of “high chair” tables. No, I don’t mean actual children’s highchairs, I mean those tall tables with tall chairs to match. I don’t like climbing up on a chair to sit down. Conversely, I don’t like sitting at tables where the seats are so low that my chin is practically resting on the table. Honestly, they make me feel like a very old child with the plate at chin level. Seriously, what’s wrong with regular height tables and chairs?

Gripe 3: There seems to be some prejudice about single people who go to restaurants by themselves. It starts with walking in the door, and you’re asked “just you, then?” as if there’s something indecent about eating out on your own. Those who seat the “onester” are either dismissive (head bubble would read: “Just you? You’ll probably give me a 5% tip, if at all! What a waste of my time!”) or dripping with phony sympathy because you are there on your own (head bubble would read: “oh the poor thing! All alone, no one to talk to, poor dear!”).

Then once you are seated, the server calls you “dearie,” “darling,” “sweetheart,” “sweetie,” ad nauseum. Or you are given the bare minimum of service; they plunk down your food and that’s the last you see of your server.

Should you need a drink refill or another napkin, you’re going to have to get up and ask someone. When the check arrives, the server looks as though he/she can’t wait until you get your sad and lonely ass out of there.

Oh well. It’s a different world out there now. Perhaps this is the new normal. But if you ask me, I think it’s time for a change, restaurant-wise. Over the years the restaurant folks have figured out that, in the main, most people don’t like eating somewhere where people are smoking. So why not add on a kid-zone in restaurants? How about some regular chairs and tables? And how about not treating the single diner as a pariah?

Just saying…

Generational Speak

Every generation has its particular lingo. When I was in school, everything was “cool” or “neat.” If something was really neat, it was “neat-o!” When I was student teaching, the word was “mental.” Extracurricular classes were “mental.” Someone’s new hairdo was “mental.” It was “mental, mental, mental” all the time.

Just for the heck of it, I looked back on the decades to see what hip phrases or words were common. In the ’60s, people were still calling each other “Daddy-O,” and some called their parents “Dad-o and Mom-o.” When things were going smoothly, it was all “groovy.” Laid-back dudes who let their hair grow long and smoked organic weed called themselves “hippies.” And any person in authority was “the man.” You always had to watch out for “the man.”

In the ’70s, if you were going to meet up with someone later on, you’d say “catch ya on the flip side.” If you were “into” something, you could “dig it.” Something out of the ordinary was “mind blowing.”

The ’80s gave us “bodacious,” meaning “beautiful.” If you were just relaxing with friends, you were “chillin’.” If you were into technology and engineering, you were a “dweeb” or a “nerd.” But if you were a Valley Girl (i.e., California beach type), anything that annoyed you would cause you to sneer and say, “ohhh, gag me with a spoon!”

In the ’90s, if you were disrespectful to someone, it meant that you had “dissed” them. If you were at a party and dancing along with the music, you were “getting jiggy with it.” If you made a mistake, you said “oops—my bad.” Last decade’s dweebs and nerds turned into “geeks.” And if you agreed with someone on something they said, you chimed in with “word (as in ‘I agree’).”

The year 2000 brought us phrases like “hangin’ with my peeps” (meaning your friends, your ‘people’). Parents were simply the “rents.” If something was great, it was “sweet.”

Now that we are way up to 2018, I still hear that everything is “awesome.” If things are going your way, it’s awesome. If you were describing your dinner from last night and you were happy with it, it too was awesome. If asked how you feel, you would probably say that you were awesome.

I’m happy to say that I have stopped gritting my teeth about the awesomeness of everything. What I still can’t get over, though, is the overuse of the word “like.” It’s a good thing that I am no longer a teacher. If I still were, I would start the school year by telling my students that they would be allowed a finite amount of “likes” each week. Go over the limit and you will be immediately sent to a landfill where you will be turned into a speed bump.

How awesome is that?

 

In the Car, Laughing All the Way

Ever notice how many people driving around look like they would rather be anywhere but where they are? Well, maybe they really do, but what I mean is that you seldom see smiling or laughing people driving by. What you DO see is angry faces, zoned-out faces, troubled faces, irritated faces and downright scary faces.

Way back when I was a kid, we really did do “Sunday driving.” On most Sundays, you got up, had a good breakfast, got ready for the day, did any errands that needed to be done, and sometimes go to church. Since Mom and I sang in the church choir, we usually went.

Then the rest of the day was free. Off we’d go in the car, taking a Sunday ride. Mom and Dad chatted back and forth, and I sat in the back, day-dreaming and enjoying all the sights. Sometimes we’d stop for lunch; fried clams, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc., Cheap but good.

We would comment about the weather; depending on what season we were in. Sometimes we would start singing a song together as well. Once we returned home, my world felt like a lighter, happier, more relaxed place. I would go to bed with the scent of wind and sun on my hair and skin.

Perhaps it’s an attempt to bring back those carefree car rides, but when the Crankee Yankee and I go off somewhere in the car, we may or may not do a lot of talking. More often we will exchange what we call “third grade jokes.” These are jokes so awful or so corny that we both roll our eyes; but still we laugh our heads off. They are funny because they are third-gradish!

Best of all, we often forget each other’s jokes, which is great: we can tell them and laugh at them all over again! As I’ve often told the Crankee Yankee, give us a few more years and we’ll be hiding our own Easter eggs….

I imagine that we must look pretty ridiculous as we drive by others on the road. Usually we are howling with laughter over yet another dumb joke. I often wonder if the people we drive by on the road think that we are nuts.

But as they are not in the car with us, I really don’t care. And in the spirit of *third grade jokes everywhere, here are some doozies:

What did one ocean say to the other ocean?
Nothing, they just waved.

What lies at the bottom of the ocean and twitches?
A nervous wreck.

What kind of coffee was served on the Titanic?
Sanka.

What goes ha, ha, ha, plop?
Someone laughing his head off.

What is large, gray, and wears glass slippers?
Cinderelephant.

Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon?
The food is terrific, but there’s no atmosphere.

What did the hot dog say when he crossed the finish line?
I am the wiener!

What did one hot dog say to another?
Hi, Frank.

Why do hummingbirds hum?
Because they can’t remember the words.

Why do birds fly south for the winter?
Because it’s too far to walk.

Did you hear about the skunk that went to church?
He had his own pew.

What has four legs and one arm?
A Rottweiler.

So the male flea said to the female flea, “How about we go to the movies?”
And the female flea said, “Sure. Shall we walk or take the dog?”

Who yelled, “Coming are the British!”?
Paul Reverse.

What did the mother buffalo say to her little boy when he went off to school?
Bison.

What do you get when you eat onions and beans?
Tear gas.

Why did the mushroom go to the party?
Because he was a fungi.

Why did the fungi leave the party?
Because there wasn’t mushroom.

Why do they put bells on cows?
Because their horns don’t work.

Why did the scientist install a knocker on his door?
To win the no-bell prize.

What’s brown and lives in the bell tower?
The lunch bag of Notre Dame.

Why should you never fly with Peter Pan?
Because you’ll never, never land.

Why do gorillas have large nostrils?
Because they have big fingers.

How does the Man in the Moon get his haircut?
Eclipse it.

Why was the math book sad?
Because it had so many problems.

Why did the Pilgrims pants fall down?
Because they wore their belt buckles on their hats.

What do Alexander the Great and Winnie the Pooh have in common?
They both have the same middle name.

*From Wutangcorp.com; thread: third grade jokes.