every girl needs a greek chorus

a blog about hope

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Secret Ingredients

I received a wonderful gift for Mother’s Day.  My Mother fixed dinner for us.  We were in shock.  In the TVLand of the 1950s, the stereotypical mother cooked three fabulous meals a day for her grateful family.  Mine did not.  At least once a week, My Dad would walk into the house, note that the stove was empty, and say, “I guess we’re going out to eat.”

Although it seemed like a great treat to have her fix dinner for us, there was some trepidation on our part.  For the past 40 years, I have been the family cook for Important Holidays and Other Significant Occasions.

“She says she’s making roast beef,” My Sister informed me.

“What?!”  I was incredulous.  I’m the succulent beef roaster, served with freshly-grated horseradish root, port-laced au jus, glazed carrots, and crispy Yorkshire Pudding.

“Mm-hmm.”  She muttered.

“But she doesn’t like to cook.  Maybe we should order out Chinese or Italian.”

“I offered, but she said she wanted to make roast beef,” My Sister sighed.

I considered bringing a bottle of red wine, because I can eat anything, even mushrooms, if I gulp them with copious amounts of wine.  My Mother thinks that all meat should be served well-done, which means gray and dry.  After living with The Veterinarian for 42 years, I now eat beef medium-rare and, occasionally, even carpaccio, if the kitchen is trustworthy.

When dining out with My Mother, we pray that she orders fish.  I have seen her fight with waiters over meat that she said was presented still “mooing” and have seen chefs in perfectly fine restaurants refuse to serve her prime rib well-done.    We grovel with the waiter when she orders beef, begging them for an “outside cut.”

It turns out that we needn’t have worried.  She made pot roast, one of  my favorite recipes.  Still, she grumbled.

Secret Ingredient

Secret Ingredient

“I couldn’t find canned French onion soup at any of the grocery stores,” she said, “no Campbell’s, no Progresso, not even a generic store-brand.”

The key to her pot roast is two cans of Campbell’s French Onion soup.  It’s the only soup that I ever cook with, and I only use it to make pot roast, because, well, it tastes like Mom’s.  It isn’t too salty, like that dry soup mix, and it doesn’t have mushrooms.  You simply dredge a piece of lean chuck roast in flour with salt and pepper, brown it on all sides in hot oil and drain on paper towels.  Then, you pour one can of the soup in the bottom of a Dutch oven or slow-cooker, top it with the meat, whole peeled carrots, and celery (with the leaves), pour another can of soup over the top, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low and simmer for at least 2-1/2 hours.  Alternatively, you can cook it, covered, in a 325° oven, which My Mother did.  Hence, roast beef.

Of course, a lot of sliced onions and beef broth will give the same effect, but I think that  piece of pseudo Swiss cheese in the soup can makes a richer sauce.  Yes, I’m delusional.  Although I’ve not read the soup can’s label, it’s probably a mess of chemicals, but I just don’t care.  It’s the taste and the memories that make the difference.

My Mother finds gravy a challenge, too, although this time it was nearly perfect.  She strains the broth to remove the vegetables and globs of fat and meat and reheats it in a saucepan.  Then her technique gets a little “dicey,” as she takes her ancient, empty jar of Taster’s Choice instant coffee crystals, into which she places flour and — yikes! — cold water, which she shakes vigorously, increasingly complaining that it won’t smoothly blend.  She stirs this into the hot broth and tries to stir out the inevitable lumps with a spoon.  This produces more grumbling.  I offered to make the gravy, but she wouldn’t let me near the stove.

Let me tell you how to really make gravy.  You start with two tablespoons of hot fat — strained pan drippings or butter — and slowly whisk in two tablespoons of flour, until the mixture is smooth and bubbling.  To make more gravy, use more fat and flour, in equal proportions. Then, and only then, do you slowly whisk in enough hot broth to make a thick gravy.  It’s better to have gravy that’s too thin, because you can always reduce it by simmering (or boiling, if you’re really pressed for time).  If it’s too lumpy, just pass it through a sieve.  No sweat.

With My Mother and My Sister, 1958

With My Mother and My Sister, 1958

All in all, our meal did just what a Mother’s Day dinner should do, evoke memories of family and love, which puts the comfort into food.  No one had to get dressed up or grovel with waiters or dodge the traffic in downtown Baltimore headed to hear the Artist-Once-Again-Known-as-Prince in his “Rally 4 Peace.”


I had two dates with a mostly pleasant widower a couple of weeks ago.  I don’t think I’ll hear from him again, which is ok.  We disagreed about voting (I do; he hasn’t for 20 years), current events (he doesn’t pay attention to the news; I do), and the hospitality of the French.  I have never had a bad time in France.  He hates the French.  That’s a quote, not a paraphrase.  He said that the French are only nice to me because I speak French.  I pointed out that The Veterinarian didn’t speak French at all.  I pointed out several occasions when the French have been extremely gracious to me, my family, or my friends, but he wasn’t convinced.

I told him about a train trip in France where some young people made rude remarks about Americans.  Two middle-aged Frenchmen sitting in front of us got up and chewed the kids out.  On their way back to their seats, the men came to us and apologized in English.  I replied in my choppy but intelligible French with beaucoup smiles.  Graciousness when traveling goes a long way to effective communication with others.

My date remained unconvinced, and in the end, I didn’t see myself traveling any place with him, much less through the remainder of my life.  Oh, yeah!  And he doesn’t drink wine.  Maybe that’s why he doesn’t like France.  Maybe that’s why I don’t like him.

I received an email from a man who said he was a medical researcher and teacher with a PhD.  He wrote to me, “Hi!  Cute photo!”  I read his profile essay, which said he was born in Canada, and skimmed his other profile information, noting that he had traveled a lot and lived abroad.

I thanked him for his compliment and said, “I grew up in Detroit.  Where in Canada were you born?”

His response?  “Hmmm.  I guess you didn’t really read my profile…”

Mystified, I re-read his profile, which still only said that he was born in Canada, but down below, under the notes section, where I noticed again that he refused to comment on his “Faith,” that he speaks English and French, and then, near the bottom, under “Favorite Hot Spots,” between “Love NYC and San Francisco” and “lived in Tel Aviv” that he was born in Montreal.  Oops!  My bad.  That’s why I was a better English major than chemistry major, failure to note the minutiae.

I replied, “Sorry.  I did read your profile, but the items under “Hot Spots” didn’t stick in my memory.  Bonne chance! [Good luck]”  I wanted to say, “Sorry, Professor, I read your profile but didn’t realize there would be a quiz.”  Yes, I made a mistake, but a little graciousness on his part would have been nice.

Yesterday, a man who lives 50 miles away in Washington, DC and whose profile claims to only be interested in women within 40 miles, asked me to Skype him.  I know how lame I sounded telling him that I don’t have access to the internet except through cellular data.  I told him I would be happy to correspond by email, citing my geographic undesirability.  Of course, he hasn’t responded.

Then, there was this guy, whose grammar is questionable: “Oh boy do I love the sarcasm.  I am that way as well.  Your profile is a great read & in person I bet it’s a million times better.  Now that I am retired I had made several considerations.  I opted out on all of them except for going to hell in a hand basket.  I haven’t been there yet.  Oh wait, I’ve got that covered.  I use [sic] to live in New Jersey…”

“Do I sound that wacky in my profile?”  I fretted.  I reconsidered myself and rewrote my profile to sound more gracious; sweet, gentle, kind, patient, forgiving, loving, tolerant, demure, meek, etc., etc., etc., a ruse that I have tried in the past without success.

Today, I received this from a man in Pennsylvania, “I enjoyed reading your profile.  It was clear, direct plain … and positive.  I do not seek a reply.  You have a very interesting personality.”

I translated this as:  “For God’s sake, don’t write to me, crazy lady!”

By the way, My Mother, who isn’t crazy about France, either, loved the blouse that I bought for her birthday last October and then lost and didn’t find in time for Christmas and finally gave her for Mother’s Day.  She gave me a giant Tootsie Roll, my favorite childhood candy.  We shared love and comfort on Mother’s Day, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

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Éirinn go Brách

From the daughter of Maggie Begley, the great-granddaughter of Maggie Doherty Tincher, and the great-great-granddaughter of Maggie Hegarty

From the daughter of Maggie Begley, the great-granddaughter of Maggie Doherty Tincher, and the great-great-granddaughter of Maggie Hegarty Doherty/Daugherty/Dougherty

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Like most Americans, I’m a mutt.  My biological ancestors came from various parts of Europe.  Through oral tradition, my maternal grandmother could recite the family tree all the way back to 18th century America.  She bequeathed the family Bible to my mother along with bits and pieces of legal and anecdotal records.  From eastern Kentucky, she claimed that we had descended from Daniel Boone, which I always doubted, because, apparently, everyone in Kentucky claims to be descended from the man in the coonskin cap.  She also said that her grandfather, Francis “Frank” Daugherty (alternately spelled “Doherty” and “Dougherty” and pronounced “darty”), had emigrated from Ireland.  Francis passed along that his mother was Maggie Hegarty, a name he bestowed on my great-grandmother.  My grandmother named my mother “Maggie” after her.

Now, my mother will tell you that she despises her name because, according to her, it sounds like the name of a “washer woman” or laundress. I realize that the Irish (as with my paternal Italian forebears) were held in low esteem in the 19th and early 20th century.  So, too, were my mother’s ancestors in the hills of Appalachia.  You’ve seen “The Beverly Hillbillies”, right?  Therefore, using the system of reasoning that I did not comprehend in 10th grade geometry, does it make sense that she gave me “Maggie” as my middle name?  “Suzanne Maggie” doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue.  It has neither an “Anglo-Saxon” nor Gallic (“Suzanne” is French for “Susannah”) ring to it.  At any rate, I am Maggie times four.  At least.  Who knows how many are buried on the ould sod?

Worse yet, when I was a child, St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in all its green glory.  I learned in my Catholic catechism class that green represented the Catholic Irish who rebelled against the evil English government, which was “protestant.”  My Mother was confirmed in a Lutheran church (can’t be more protestant than Martin Luther), when her family moved to Detroit, but I never knew them to belong to a church of any denomination.  I was a little ashamed to be descended from those quarrelsome protestant Irish, so I wore neither green nor orange.

About 20 years ago, on a trip to a conference in Nashville, My Mother and I stopped in the tiny Appalachian town where she was born.  On this trip to Kentucky, we visited with every surviving relative that she knew.  One of them, my grandmother’s first cousin, had a house full of Catholic artifacts that she had rescued from the local Catholic church when it was closed.  Why?  Because she was Catholic!  “Was her late husband Catholic?” I asked.  “Oh, no,” she replied and explained her family’s religious affiliation. Apparently, the sons of my great-great-grandfather Frank had remained Catholic.  The daughters, who married protestant men, became protestants.  Faith and begorrah!

In the 19th century, Catholic priests rarely visited the isolated community, until it grew enough to raise up a Catholic parish.  Francis married a local girl (Marticia Cole — and that name’s a story for another day) from a protestant family, and their daughter, Maggie Daugherty, married William Tincher, a protestant of Irish origins stretching back into the 17th century in the colonies.  My grandmother married a “Begley,” also an Irish name but a protestant family. Were they ever Catholic?  Who knows?  My Mother the Lutheran married My Dad the Italian Catholic, and now I, their daughter, who was raised a Catholic, is an Episcopalian (technically, a reformed Catholic, not a protestant).  I guess I can wear whatever the hell I want to.  Talk about mutts…

Thanks to Ancestry.com, I have been able to corroborate my grandmother’s anecdotal information on her family’s history.  Other than her grandfather, all of the family with Irish surnames who emigrated to the colonies were born in England.  The rest of  the hardy souls had English names.   Among them, Ancestry also corroborated that we do descend directly from Daniel Boone through his youngest daughter, Levina, not once, but twice, which would be kind of incestuous if the generations weren’t spread out so far.  Yet another story for another day.

Today, I’ll be Irish.  After all, St. Patrick was a mutt himself.  He was born in what was probably modern-day Scotland to British parents, who were Roman citizens, and kidnapped by Irish pirates into slavery and taken to Ireland.

Because I’m a mutt, I prefer my corned beef on rye, Champagne to Guinness, and garlic toast to soda bread.   I will salute the sainted Padraig with a verse from the prayer attributed to him, St. Patrick’s Breastplate:

I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven
the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.


I’m on vacation this week and experienced almost three days without wifi.  Horrors!  When I was able to reconnect, I was met with the usual scammers.  Maybe it’s the sun.  Maybe it’s the rum.  Maybe it’s the companionship of old friends and the safety of being several thousand miles from home, but I decided to confront the scammers.

I received an email from someone who had obviously stolen a well-written profile.  He/she (because who knows who’s behind this stuff) wrote an ungrammatical email.  I thought I would be helpful and responded:

“Helpful hint:  When stealing a person’s photo and profile, it would be a good idea to write in the grammatical style of the original profile, if you wish to be successful at scamming.”

I’ve had no reply.

A 62-year old legitimate prospect emailed me, questioning what he called my “diatribe” about grammar and spelling, which I’ve included in my profile.  I replied, explaining that I receive emails from 3-5 scammers each day and was hoping to weed them out.  He responded that he hears occasionally from 20-30 year old women but had not heard from any scammers.  I’m sure you join me in my amusement that a 62-year old man with a full white beard thinks that 20-30 year old women aren’t scammers.

I had a guy, without a profile photo, IM me.  Bored, I asked him why he didn’t have a photo.  He gave me the typical, grammatically garbled explanation about not knowing how to upload photos.  I told him to go away and stop wasting my time.  I wanted to say, “If you aren’t smart enough to figure out how to upload a photo, you aren’t smart enough to date me.”

Finally, I had a delusional moment.  THE sweetest 41-year old man emailed me,

“What does a stunning woman need with a dating site? I can’t imagine you have difficulty meeting someone. In fact, I’d assume you have suitors lined up for miles waiting for their opportunity to approach you.”

After I picked myself up off the floor, I wrote back,

“Assuming that you are serious, I’m going to respond to one of the few real emails that I have received in almost eight months of online dating… currently, there are no available attractive, intelligent, sophisticated gentlemen in my age bracket within a 50 mile radius of Baltimore (consider that includes DC, Frederick, the Eastern Shore, southern PA, and Wilmington). Well, apparently, there are a few, but they all want women who are considerably younger than I. The ones who are 50-70 and look like my grandfather want someone 35-45…”

His adorable reply,

“Yes, I am sincere and I’m sorry that you’ve had nothing but disappointment and despair with online dating. Yes, sadly, there are a lot of people online who are fakes or just looking for sex but they don’t make up the majority.

If there are none of those types of men in your age bracket, then I suggest opening up your age range to someone much younger than yourself. There are many like me who are seeking a mature woman for dating and not for the cliche reasons: sex, money, etc.”

Well, my goodness gracious, pass this old lady the smelling salts!  If things don’t pick up here, I may expand that age bracket to 40-60.  I just might be a cougar, after all.  Bring on the tight leopard-print capris!  The false eyelashes!  The platform heels!  (No, wait, that’s how I broke my patella three years ago.)

OMG!  Could I really date someone young enough to be my son?  Even I am not that delusional.  Maybe I could fix him up with The Daughter…So, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria! 

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First World Problems

First World Problem:  The sand is too rough on your feet.

First World Problem: The sand is too rough on your feet.

Would you buy a 72” flat-screen television just to watch the Super Bowl and return it for a refund the next day?  I didn’t think so, because we’re not that crazy, but, apparently, some people are.  What kind of people think that their television screen isn’t big enough on which to watch a football game once a year?  First World People, that’s who.  Who are these sorry folks?  I hate to tell you this, but we are.

If you grew up in the US in the 1950s, you undoubtedly were scolded by a parent, who survived the Great Depression, for not eating your peas/liver and onions/prunes with “There are children starving in Europe/Africa/China who would love to have it.”  If you were smart, you gritted your teeth to restrain the words, “Then, send it over to them” from leaving your lips.  Duly admonished, however, the guilt probably sank in a little, because there wasn’t much that a 9-year old in Eisenhower’s America could do about world famine other than to fret, briefly, on the possibility that there was a world beyond what was shown to us on television.

My father also used to remind us that “Everything is relative” and “This, too, shall pass.” Throughout my life, I’ve tried to temper my frustrations and sorrows by putting them in perspective.  Is this surmountable?  How do I make this better?  Is this really as bad as I think it is?  Sometimes, it is, so I have also learned to deal with it humorously.

For example, when my father died after a devastating two years of ALS (remember last summer’s ice bucket challenge?), My Mother and I, accompanied by my uncle, stood with the funeral director looking at caskets and vaults.

“In this end, we place a time capsule with the deceased’s name, place and date of birth, and place and date of death.”

“Oh,” My Mother the history buff quipped, “is that so when they dig us all up in a thousand years, there won’t be any mystery about who we were?  Maybe they’ll confuse us with someone important.”  We snickered together.

The funeral director smiled uncertainly and moved on to the vaults, describing how they were made out of the same material as football helmets.

“Well, that’s perfect for Daddy,” I chimed in.  “He played football in high school and will feel right at home.”  My Mother and I laughed, while the funeral director and my uncle exchanged sympathetic looks of the “Poor-little-women-in-their-grief” variety.

People were equally disconcerted when The Veterinarian died unexpectedly, yet I didn’t go to pieces. (Yes, I saw the looks on the faces of people who don’t know me very well.)  First of all, my faith swooped in and picked me up.  The first thing I did was pray and ask God to take over.  As always, God did.  The second thing I could hear was my beloved husband’s voice say, “Don’t panic.  When you panic, you’ve lost.” In my head, I heard My Mother’s voice say, “Keep going.”  In every way, my life had prepared me for that moment.  And when, within days, I was beset with confounding legal issues and was diagnosed with hypertension, I was able to keep moving forward, when some around me could only react with fear.  I truly felt joy at the outpouring of love from the hundreds of people who offered condolences in person or by mail.  (And that, ladies and gentleman, is how to celebrate a life lived generously.)  The stories that were shared lifted my spirits in ways that no pharmaceutical ever could.

In the first weeks, I found that I couldn’t concentrate enough to read.  I discovered humorous crime novels.  In a matter of weeks, I read every book Janet Evanovich ever wrote.  I read funny “chick lit” from Mary Kay Andrews, Sophie Kinsella, and the wacky vampires of MaryJanice Davidson, stuff I had never read before.  I tuned my satellite radio to the comedy channels.  The sound of laughter, even if it was only my own, was the sound of life.  It balanced the sorrow and stress and misery, while the prayers of so many kept me afloat.  I put my life back in perspective.

In the "Lingerie Tankini" with The Daughter

In the “Lingerie Tankini” with The Daughter

This week, The Daughter and I are on vacation in a delightfully sunny haven.  Mostly sunny, I should say.  Yesterday, we had some clouds and scattered rain as we sat by the pool, reading and contemplating what to have for lunch.  We were aware that, while we were complaining of  only having 3-6 hours of sunshine, back home, 3-6” of snow were forecast.  There wasn’t much that we could do about it other than to fret, briefly, on the possibility that our family and friends were frantically searching grocery stores for MBTp.  Still, the clouds cut into our pool time, so we sighed and compiled some First World Problems.  If any of these are make-or-break problems for you, you need to lighten up!  If we’ve forgotten any, feel free to add them using “Reply.”

First World Problems

You’re the only second grader who doesn’t have a smartphone.

Your Hawaiian vacation rental is garden-view, not oceanfront.

Your dishwasher doesn’t have a stainless steel interior.

Your refrigerator doesn’t have ice in the door.

Your kitchen countertops are Formica.

Your twins share a bedroom.

Your cable plan doesn’t include HBO.

Your new diet doesn’t allow McDonald’s.

Your pre-packaged salad isn’t “organic.”

Your “Parmesan” cheese was made in Wisconsin.

Your Caribbean vacation is 80° and partly cloudy.

You’re forced to stream iTunes, because Pandora doesn’t work outside the US.

Your server gives you an extra cocktail for free.

You have to drive to three different stores to find chipotle-and-lime tortilla chips.

You’re on vacation, and you still have to empty the dishwasher.



Today, The Daughter and I decided that Jane Austen, as broadminded as she was for the early 19th century, would be dumbfounded by the modern world of courtship.  Austen’s heroines find themselves looking for love in all the right places, in their social milieu.  They encounter posers, narcissists, damaged heroes, philanderers, the aristocracy, and ne’er-do-wells.  Luckily for them, they encounter them at church, parties, and dances, in shops or at tea, face-to-face, to size up the character of their romantic prospects through their friends, families, manners, speech, and dress.

Alas, dear Reader, today we encounter them hiding behind fake photos, fake profiles, and false modesty traveling at the speed of light through the Great Unknown to my computer.  I receive at least four to five introductory emails each day that just say, “Textme1235555555,” as if I have been lobotomized and am sitting with cellphone in hand.  Men actually say they are looking for “a lady with benefits,” which is an oxymoron, if I’ve ever heard one.  Their photographic introductions show them bare-chested, in wifebeaters, squinting into their cellphone camera lenses, and one just posted a photo of only his legs and feet.  I don’t want to know why.

Actually, on chemistry*com, probably 85% of the profiles don’t even have a photo, which is really a pig in a poke, if you ask me.  “Ask him for a photo” it says.  Some, like a guy calling himself “mensadoc,” are “Still thinking of something to write,” according to the site.  Really?  You’re a member of Mensa, have a doctoral degree, and can’t put together a photo and 200 words about yourself?  Slacker.

In my new profile on chemistry, I say, “I’m that cute, ladylike-but-sassy girl in your high school English class.”  Someone emailed, “Hey, cute sassy girl!  We can swing through the trees like Tarzan and Jane.”  Excuse me?!   Another man wrote to me and said that in my photos I appear, “cute, patient, and gentle.”  Oh, dear.  I suppose I’ve oversold myself and will have to make it clear that I am only one of the three.  Looks are deceiving on this end of the internet, too.  I read on a website called “online dating tips” that it’s trite to describe yourself as “funny.”  Well, I am funny.  That’s one of my great strengths, n’est-ce pas?  But this, too, shall pass, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!




How to stuff a not-so-wild bikini

The wildest bathing suit I ever owned, c. 1971

At 100 pounds, in the wildest bathing suit I ever owned, c. 1971  –  The “hippie” glasses had lavender lenses.

I made the mistake of trying on bathing suits yesterday.  I know.  January is not the month for that.  I assumed that it would be a more pleasant experience than in recent years, having lost some weight and rearranged a couple of crucial body parts.  Unfortunately, I forgot that there was pasty white skin lurking beneath my clothes.  I went to a shop that only sells beachwear, so the lighting in the dressing room was forgiving and designed to make skin look pinkish, but it couldn’t disguise either the marks around my waist from my jeans or the elastic from my socks around my calves.

First, I had to struggle with size.  What size am I now?  My old suits don’t fit.  The tops stood away from my body, which horrified me that I ever wore such a thing in the first place, not to mention that it fit!  The first tops that I tried on were too small.  I wasn’t sure how to take that.  Should I be happy that I still have some womanly curves or concerned that I still have that pesky “arm pit fat” that I didn’t know I had until the surgeon pointed it out to me?

And I still have hips.  I’ve always had hips, even when I weighed a hundred pounds.  With hope in my heart, I tried on a size “small” bottom, but it dug into my fat — er — skin, so I went with the medium bottom, which I’ve always worn. The more things change, the more they remain the same.  There was a time when I wore real bikinis.  I’m always shocked when I see what I used to wear, but, like most of the fleet, that ship has sailed.

So, what style?  High-waisted bottom?  Skirted?  Low cut top?  Screaming red?  Horizontal stripes?  Metallics?  One piece?  Tankini?  I’ve always worn black and navy, so it would be nice to enliven my color palette (as the magazines say).

I decided on tankinis, those two-piece suits that allow you to cover up your midsection.  Since I never go into the water (except a hot tub or briefly into the pool to cool off), I like their convenience.  I prefer to sit in a lounge chair, basting and turning like a chicken, while I read the latest chick lit and sip on a cold drink.  This can take a few hours, so I usually need to visit the ladies’ room from time to time, and I have no patience with tugging at a one piece.  If the cold drink is an adult beverage, I may not be coordinated enough to manage it.

Timidly, I tried on a black number that was jazzed up with a little crocheted lace trim and a little skirt for the bottom.  I texted a selfie to The Daughter for her opinion.

“Lingerie?”  She jumped in her car and drove to meet me at the mall.  God only knows what kind of senility had overcome her mother.

I tried on another suit with a little ruffle around the bodice and the bottom.  Again, it was conservatively black, although the narrow ruffle was a print, predominately coral.  It had a built-in bra.  Much more appropriate for a 62-year old woman.  Surely, the Daughter would approve.

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about what your daughter thinks,” the kind saleslady advised, as she took away a ghastly horizontally striped two piece in hot pink and navy.  “Age is just a number.”  Yeah, sure.  You just want to make a sale.  I’m the one who’s going to hear about it while we’re on vacation.

For many years, when I was in my 30s, I kept a New Yorker cartoon on my bathroom mirror.  It showed an older woman in a lacy, off-the-shoulder, debutante-style dress with a bow in her hair and a cameo necklace.  The caption read, “Clara never realized that time had passed.”  Of course, 30 years ago, “Clara” was seen through a glass dimly, but I kept it as a reminder.  Unfortunately, I lost that cartoon when we remodeled the bathroom, but, somehow, “Clara” has started appearing in my mirror.

“Maybe it’s the skirted bottom,” the helpful saleslady brought a plain bottom to the dressing room.  “Try this one.  It’s not as busy.”  She was right.  It looked sleeker and less like a tap costume.  Still, there was no bra in the top, and, no matter how perky my recent “rearrangement” left me, I felt a little too exposed.  I sprang for the ruffled suit and asked them to hold the one with the lace for the Daughter’s approval.  I met her outside the store.

“Listen,” I said, “they’re holding that black suit for me that you thought was lingerie.  I’m not sure I should buy it, so, when I show it to you, say you don’t like it.”

“OK,” she agreed.  We walked into the store, and the saleslady produced the suit.

“OMG!” The Daughter exclaimed.  “I love it.  You should buy it.”  Traitor!  I gave her The Look.

“You see,” she explained to the saleslady, “my mother is doing online dating now but doesn’t really present herself all that well.  She needs to be more exciting.  Mom, you should definitely buy that suit, and, if you don’t like it, you should give it to me.”


I have six weeks left on my Match subscription, and I think I’m done.  I’ve tried everything.  I tried being myself.  I tried being non-offensive.  I tried being someone else for about 24 hours.  Now, I’ve hidden my profile until my membership expires.  The Daughter is concerned that I’m wasting money, but it all seems to have been a money waster from the beginning.  I’ve emailed over 20 men who appeared to be “matches” and only heard from the one who said tersely, “We are not a match.”  I was advised that men like to be the pursuer and are turned off by women who approach them first.  I was advised that it’s a new world and that women shouldn’t wait for a man to approach them.  A Catch-22 situation all around.

Last week, I heard from multiple scammers, including another woman who claimed to be writing for her boss.  I also heard from one of the many inappropriate men on Match.  He was 65, never married, and agnostic with shoulder length hair (!), who described himself as an “underachieving wiseass…looking for a drama free woman.”  He wrote, “Would you take a chance on a hippie who is now attoning [sic] for his misspent youth?”

Oh, you have got to be kidding me.  I’m one of the few people of my generation who has never smoked weed.  I wasn’t a hippie when everyone flirted with being a hippie in the 60s and 70s, not even beads and peace symbols or even macramé plant holders. I still can’t stand the smell of patchouli.

In my Peter Pan collar and box-pleated skirt, sitting on the lawn next to my French instructor with cigarette in her hand.

In my Peter Pan collar and box-pleated skirt, sitting on the lawn next to my French instructor with cigarette in her hand.

My freshman year in college in 1971, I had a French language instructor who owned one pair of ripped jeans, two ribbed turtlenecks (one navy, one mauve), a pair of lace-up moccasins, and a necklace of beaded flowers.  Her fashion sense was to ring her eyes with kohl and plaster her lips with Max Factor Erace (that old grease-stick concealer).  We had a mutual dislike for one another.  I wore skirts and bell-bottomed slacks with real shoes and was the best student in the class.  It drove her nuts.

She also chain-smoked during class, one of those ghastly things that people are no longer allowed to inflict on others.  One day, she finished a cigarette, dropped it on the classroom floor, and, while rubbing it out, ground a hole through the bottom of her moccasin and burned her foot.  You know what they say about Karma…

In answer to your question, sir, “No.  No hippies.  No one of any kind who hasn’t gotten over their misspent youth or even their misspent middle-age.”

Maybe I should just misspend my “Golden Years.” Maybe I’ll keep that little lacy black tankini for myself.  Since the geezers my age think I’m too old for them, I can always blame it on senility, so who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

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Lousy Housekeeper (sorry)

How did this get here? A Fly Girl cap, a booklight, a headless antique, a bag of Christmas tags, a roll of tape

How did this get here?
Looks like a page from the children’s game book “I Spy”.  And no, I didn’t arrange it for this photo!

Anybody know how my house gets to be such a mess?  It’s only January, and it needs spring cleaning already.  Only the BFF and I live here, although she sheds enough hair to spin into a ladder for Rapunzel.  I cleaned up for Thanksgiving, and it was a mess a week later.  I cleaned up for Christmas, and it was a mess by New Year’s Eve.   Despite vacuuming thoroughly, clouds of dog hair wrapped themselves around the legs of my dining room chairs within hours.

I’m not talking about cobwebs in the ceiling or the grease on the kitchen exhaust fan.  They will be there until I drag out the 18’ ladder to change one of my track lights.  I’m talking about the ordinary clutter that seems to multiply like rabbits.  I’m talking about the stray stick-on bow that ended up under the sofa on Christmas morning and made itself known on New Year’s Eve.  The ornament hook that wandered into my bathroom.

Does this stuff have legs?  Does it party in the middle of the night and drop wherever it passes out like a frat boy?

Why is there a clean dessert plate under my coffee table?  Oh, I know that one!  The BFF was licking the remnants of Cheesecake Factory Lemon Meringue Cheesecake and must have shoved it there.  Thank goodness she’d already cleaned it!

Why is there a box of light bulbs sitting in a corner of my bedroom?  It’s been a mystery for at least six months now, because none of the bulbs fits any of the fixtures in my bedroom or bathroom.

The worst room is my walk-in closet, which ceased to be “walk in” about three months ago after I lost My Mother’s birthday present and threw everything on the floor in my frantic search.  I blame it on being short.  I can pull storage boxes off the shelves, but I need a step-stool to put them back.

So, I just don’t put them back, and then they’re all on the floor, and I can’t walk in my walk-in closet.  I kind of lean over the clutter and stretch my arms toward the rack in the back.  This works for taking the clothes off the rack, but it’s impossible to reach far enough toward the rack to rehang the clothes.  Consequently, my clean clothes are hanging in the laundry room.

There’s a place for everything in that closet, but nothing is in its place except my shoes and handbags.  I love them almost as much as I love my BFF, and, even when you factor in the cost of her two emergency exploratory surgeries, I have more money invested in leather goods than I do in her.  My pricey Italian heels would surely snap off if I stepped on them under that mess on the floor.  My handbags, which come with their own dust bags, have a place of honor on a shelf.  Of course, most of the dust bags are on the floor, but the pricey leather goods rest securely five feet above the fray (conveniently at my eye level).

I have always been a slob.  My Mother once gave me a magnet that said, “Dull women have immaculate homes.”  I was never certain how to take that from the Queen of Tidiness.  I’ll never forget the Veterinarian saying to me in the early days of our marriage, “Don’t you think that it needs to be swept in here?”

“Don’t you know that the vacuum cleaner is in the closet?” I promptly replied, without a hint of sarcasm.  “It takes two people to make this mess.  We both go to school full-time.  Why should only one person be responsible for cleaning?”  He wisely never mentioned it again.  In fact, we used to joke that we had to have a dinner party once a month just so we’d get the house clean.

Eventually, in 1986, I hired a young dancer to clean.  She wanted to earn money to spend the summer taking classes in NYC, so she asked me what I thought of paying $25 to clean a house.

“I think I’ll be your first customer,” I replied, “that’s what I think.”

Of course, I would clean the house before she came to clean, because I didn’t want her to see how dirty we were and because we didn’t want her to put things away where we couldn’t find them again.

I understand that women commonly do this.  By the time you’ve cleaned for the house cleaner, you might as well have just finished cleaning it yourself and saved yourself some money. And in a pinch, I am not ashamed to admit, I have been known to fake out my family by emptying the trash, spritzing lemon-scented Pledge in the air, and swishing the toilets and sinks with Clorox bleach to make everything smell sanitized, which it was, when you think about it.  You thought that was just a joke, didn’t you?  Ha-ha!  There are actually crazed women like moi who consider it a legitimate cleaning technique.

Think about it.  There isn’t much that survives an onslaught of chlorine bleach into the dirtiest recesses of your home, such as the toilet, the shower, and the garbage disposal.  Who needs multiple cleaning products when Clorox gets the germs and Windex gets the grease?  Caveat:  Do NOT use them together.  That would take care of things in a way you probably don’t intend unless you don’t want to clean again for eternity.  Can you spell l-e-t-h-a-l?

DATE UPDATE:  Match sent me an email saying that January 4 is their busiest day of the year for people searching for “that special someone” or “your last love” or whatever cliché their marketing team concocted.

Who did they send me?  I got three scammers and three real possibilities, including an attractive, divorced, medical professional in DC who was looking for an “intelligent and witty” woman aged 54-66 “who understands that monogamy is not a type of wood.”  He mentioned that he is exploring his Italian heritage.  Don’t you think that he and I are a match made in heaven?  I understand medicine. I used to live in the DC area.  I’m 62.  I have an Italian heritage.  I wrote to him about our mutual interests and signed it “Suzanne, who understood monogamy for four decades.”  I thought that sounded both intelligent AND witty.

I guess he didn’t think so, because he didn’t respond.  Two other men emailed me, a 62-year old divorced “professional engineer” with a master’s degree who lives in the next county north and had a boyish grin and shaggy gray hair and was looking for a…wait for it…”intelligent and witty” woman.  He complimented me on the “nice pic [sic] of you and cute dog.”  (The BFF is a guy magnet.)

The other, who also lives near DC and has never been married (but has children!), was looking for a variation, a “unique and intelligent, witty woman”, and wrote, “Like your profile and photos.  Happy New Year.”  My profile at that time said, “Lousy housekeeper (sorry)…looking for a man who doesn’t want a Stepford Wife,” because I believe in truth in advertising, unlike most of the people on Match.  I wrote to both men, and neither responded.   I changed the profile.  “I am the real deal (otherwise I would have lowered my age, raised my height, and faked my photos).”

On New Year’s Day, a whopping 10 men expressed their admiration, either through the dreaded winks or by “favoriting” me.  Unfortunately, they represented the states of Connecticut, New York, South Carolina, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, California, and New Jersey, which made a particularly strong showing with multiple unsuitable entrants.

On Sunday, still glowing from the wins by the Spartans and the Ravens (I just had to throw that in), I received a “favorite” from an incredibly attractive widower, aged 64, who lives in one of the most affluent DC suburbs.  His profile mirrored mine!  He was looking for an “intelligent and witty”  woman 58-65!  He was online at that very moment!  And I was his favorite!  I clicked to “Favorite” him…and he disappeared.  Like Cinderella’s coach at midnight, gone.  The message popped up:  “Profile no longer available.  Perhaps you would like one of these…”  Really?  In 30 seconds?  Sounds like someone at match is manipulating profiles and photos.

I changed the profile again, because I read that you get moved to the top of the matrix if you make a significant photo or information change.  Today I sound like a Stepford Wife, not so witty, not so intelligent, definitely not unique.  (“I love football and would love to cheer for your team.”)  Although I kept “Caution:  English major.”

I’ve had 64 views in 48 hours (surely due to the BFF), and two more scammers with the usual scammer spiel.  Today, I got this from someone who appears to be a native speaker of English from the information he lists, but I’ve never heard a sane man of any nationality talk like this:

Would you date this man?

Another typical scammer.  Would you date this man?


“Can we begin together?

Hello Beautiful Smiles,
Good afternoon and how are you doing?? I hope your day is going well?
I would like us to talk more so we can get to know each other more better. We can begin a conversation and see where it leads, Life is too short and we all want to spend it with the special one,
So let’s give this a chance and see what happens. Here is my cell : 555-555-5555
Hope to hear from you soon,”

To me, the “special one” is Jesus.  That’s my answer.

I think I take Beautiful Smiles to convent they not let me have own wine and probably make me clean room and no take cute dog.  She like dirty house.  So, who I complain?? Life is (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

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Take a hike, 2014!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

It’s 9 o’clock on New Year’s Eve, and my family just left after enjoying a dinner of sirloin strip roast, scalloped potatoes, and triple sec carrots. The Daughter is headed for the nightmare known as New Year’s Eve at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor — she’s young.  She needs to find out for herself that everything is overpriced and overhyped on December 31.  At least, she has a designated driver.

The forced joie de vivre was never my “thing.”  The first year of our marriage, in 1972, we went to a showing of the original “Poseidon Adventure” with the late, great Shelley Winters doing the breaststroke in the waterlogged belly of an overturned cruise ship.  At least, that’s how I remember it.  My mind’s eye sees a lot of soggy chiffon billowing around her thighs, but the Champagne could be playing tricks again.  Nope.  I googled it.  There she is, looking brave in seaweed green chiffon.

After the movie, we went to the restaurant from which Jimmy Hoffa would disappear two years later.  I remember poor table service, mediocre food, lousy “champagne” and a conga line that snaked through the kitchen.  It didn’t even occur to any of us that we needed a designated driver.

You do a lot of stupid stuff when you’re 20.  Maybe that’s why I read every line of the Riot Act to My Daughter the critical care nurse before she headed out my door tonight, after she went on and on about how much fun she and her girlfriend the shock-trauma nurse were going to have and how much they were going to party.  (Oh, yes, it struck me, too, that, of all people, these two professional health care providers would be more cautious.)

“Oh, Mom,” she sighed.  “I don’t really walk the walk that I talk.”

“Just text me when you get back to your apartment.”

“At 3 am?”

“I really don’t care what time it is.”

“Are you going to be awake?”

“Of course, I’m going to be awake.  You’re going to be in the middle of that nightmare with God-only-knows what kind of lunacy.  How am I gonna sleep?”

“Ok.  I love you, Mom.”

So, here I sit with my BFF and the remnants of a very fine bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte rosé Champagne.   My BFF celebrated earlier by rolling in something quite dead and has been banished to the other side of the living room.  She’ll be happily unconscious until 10 when she’ll demand that we go to bed like we do every night.

I haven’t made it to midnight on New Year’s Eve in 20 years.  I’d rather be fast asleep in my snug king-sized bed when the neighbors start shooting off fireworks and automatic weapons.  Ha! I’m worried about lunacy 20 miles away in Bawlmer, hon?  We’ve got our own craziness out here in the gentrified sticks.

Just got a text from The Daughter.  The fancy, schmancy and quite expensive watering hole didn’t have any ginger ale.  Not what I wanted to hear, sweet child of mine.  Yikes!  I already hear gunfire nearby.  Oh, yeah.  I’ll be awake at 3 am.

Take a hike, 2014!  Join your crappy friends 2011, 2012, and 2013 in Hades.  Bring it on, 2015!  Happy New Year!

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Christmas Past

My First Christmas

My First Christmas

My Mother and I were sitting around looking at old photos, which is always a source of amusement, wistfulness, and horror, simultaneously.  I have pulled out the Christmas ones that have held up the best to share with you, since I sincerely believe that the best humor is self-deprecating, and these all tell a whole lot about who I am today.  I hope that they (and that cup of “Christmas Cheer” that you’re enjoying) bring your own fond memories of Christmas past to this Christmas present.

My Mother says that my dad always carried this dog-eared photo of my first Christmas in his wallet, even after I was married and gone.  I remember nothing about it, except that I still have the Teddy bear stored away.    Check out those metal icicles on the tree behind me.  Every year, My Mother personally hung each one, strand by strand, because she didn’t trust anyone else to hang them properly.  I must admit, I’ve never seen anything come as close to the dazzling effect that she created.

My First Visit with Santa

My First Visit with Santa

Several things come to mind when I think of my first visit to Santa.  First, this was taken at the flagship store of the  J.L. Hudson Co., in downtown Detroit, the only place that had the Real Santa waiting to listen to your wish list — well, I think there may have been about 10 of them, carefully hidden throughout an elaborate display of animated dolls, toys, and figures.  Second, it is apparent from the intense look that I am giving Santa that I learned at an early age to control stage-fright.  Third, I see that the jowls I had in 1953 have made a return appearance 61 years later.

Christmas Carols

Christmas Carols

As we looked at the photos, My Mother remarked, ruefully, “Homemade dresses.  You girls always had to wear homemade dresses.”  I reassured her that I thought it was pretty awesome that I had a new outfit for every major occasion and holiday, AND I designed it.  Nothing shameful about these pretty red cotton velveteen outfits from Christmas 1961, and, yes, My Mother sewed all those rows of lace onto the blouses.  That’s what the mothers that I knew used to do, and I am ever so grateful that she taught me to sew, too.

Christmas Snark

Christmas Snark

Now, we move into the snarky teenaged years.  This is probably 1965.   50 years later, I am still appalled that my naturally brunette hair is not flipping crisply on the ends like Marlo Thomas’, but that’s a subject for another blog (“How I survived an Adolescence in the 1960s of Really Bad, No Good Curly Hair”).

On to college, in my trendy midi skirt from Christmas 1970.  You will note that the icicles continue to hang perfectly from our tree, although, as I recall, they had become plastic, which My Mother grumbled about for two weeks, trying to keep the static electricity they generated from clumping them together.  I, on the other hand, note that, just as the jowls from my childhood have returned, my recent surgery has restored some other body parts to their former glory.   wink, winkimage

It seems that there are no Christmas photos of me post-marriage in 1972.  Actually, I found one from 1984 that’s too dark and mostly out-of-focus that you would find hilarious.  I am glamorous in a Joan Collins-style bouffant coif, pink angora sweater with HUGE shoulder pads, ivory wool slacks, and ivory suede boots.  It’s such a shame that I can’t reproduce it for your entertainment.  Paint this picture in your mind’s eye and run with it:  “Dallas” meets “Dynasty” at a party hosted by Dolly Parton.  If you graduated from high school anytime before 1990, you’ll get it, and I’m gonna guess you have a similar photo lurking in a shoe box in the back of your closet, too.

imageFinally, here’s the most recent photo of me taken at Christmas, and it is easily my favorite.  Trying to recreate the Christmas memories of our youth, when everything was bigger, shinier, and more fun, the Veterinarian and I visited NYC at the holidays almost every year.  We gazed at the glittering displays in the department store windows, ate roasted chestnuts on the street corner, and skated at Rockefeller Center.  Here we are in front of its famous tree in a photo taken by The Daughter.   Do you recognize me now with the blonde hair?

Yes, Scrooge, Christmas present is very much like Christmas past.  May your days be merry and bright!

My Sister and I

My Sister and I 1957


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Dazed and Confused, What Else is New?

It’s been a busy time in my world, some satisfying, some funny, all frustrating.  So, here goes…

Happy 87th Birthday to my mom — a week late.  Thinking myself to be organized, I bought her a birthday present in

The night before my wedding, she told me I didn't have to go through with it, if I didn't want to.

1972 – The night before my wedding, she told me I didn’t have to go through with it, if I didn’t want to.

August, sat it on a chair in my bedroom, and am fairly certain that it was still sitting there two weeks ago.  I checked the size of the box the week before the Big Day and bought wrapping paper for it.  The day of her birthday, it had vanished.  I mean, vanished, as in not to be seen anywhere in my house.  I checked every square inch of my bedroom, including under the bed, under the chair, and in my closet.  Nope.  Nada.  No gift.  Not in the guest bedroom, my daughter’s old room, the living room, dining room, garage, attic, or sunroom.  In desperation, I had to stop at Rite Aid and buy a lame Panera gift card to give her from my BFF Fiona.  Is that not embarrassing?

I had the wrapping paper, tissue, ribbon, box, and card ready to go with nothing to give the sainted woman from whom I get my middle name, curly hair, and lack of stature; my sarcasm, temper, frankness, and stubbornness; my hypertension and high cholesterol; my sewing and typing prowess; my love of reading, old movies, fashion, and history; my fear of heights and being hurt (physically and emotionally); my righteous indignation and survival instincts, not to mention my quest for perfection.

Still the best mom

Lucky me!  Good genes!

Of course, what would be perfect enough for the only person who is always behind me, even when she thinks I’m wrong?  Who made me clothes and costumes, convinced my dad that a liberal arts degree was acceptable, sheet-rocked a veterinary clinic, helped me hang wallpaper, loved my husband and adopted daughter, my dogs and cats, and let me move away to Maryland without complaining?

Well, there’s always Christmas.  I love you, Mom!

This happened the very same day that I had my last post-op visit with the plastic surgeon, and, no, I wasn’t as prepared as I hoped I would be.  Yes, I hit my weight goal, the day before my visit (thank you very much) and decided that I needed to lose another five pounds so I’d have a “cushion”.  You know, with the holidays coming up and all that rich, festive food.  I’d rather have a cushion of pounds that I could maybe, possibly gain without notice, than that big cushion of fat below my navel.

Anyway, during the exam, I had my last prodding.  “Yes, sir, I have feeling there and there.”  I thought he unnecessarily kept referring to the “rigid necrotic fat” in my right breast and said that I should call him if I ever decided that I couldn’t live with it.  What?  It’s not painful or even visible beneath my clothes. Did you see the black banded dress that Miley Cyrus wore to the amFAR fundraiser this week?  Well, I couldn’t wear that with my new breasts, but, if the sequins were properly placed, I could probably wear the gown that Rihanna had on.  (Google them for your laugh of the week.)  Tom Ford of Gucci, give me a call.

I told the doctor that no one would see it but me, and he said, “Well, you might change your mind.” He’s so inscrutable that I’m not sure what he thought I was going to change my mind about.  Letting someone see it?  Touch it?  Well, my match.com experience continues to be dismal, so that isn’t likely, if you know what I mean.

After the exam, it was time for the dreaded “after” photographs.  And even with as much entertainment as I have given hundreds of people with my experience of the “before” photographs, I still came close to tears.  Don’t get me wrong.  The doctor is a very kind and gentle man.  There’s a nurse there, holding up a blue backdrop, and my abs are looking pretty decent for a woman my age, but there’s just something about standing upright, naked, and having photos taken.  I stared at the ceiling, turned a quarter to the left, full left, a quarter to the right, and then full right, smack into my reflection in a mirror!

“OH, DEAR GOD!!!!” I shrieked.  Really and truly and most hideously, I shrieked at the unexpected sight of little pale me, naked except for a pair of black tights. The doctor and nurse laughed.  I don’t know if they laughed because it’s their little joke to stand a naked senior citizen under fluorescent lighting in front of a mirror, or if it’s because the joke was finally on me.

“Oh, Suzanne, you’re always so funny!” the receptionist once told me.

Oh the humanity—er—I mean, the humiliation.  Not only had I seen the gruesome situation in my mind’s eye, but there it was in front of me, like a grotesque Picasso painting of one of his naked ex-wives.

“Really,” I mumbled, completely defeated.  “I’ve spent the last six months preparing for this moment, losing 15 pounds, flattening my abs, and this is just awful.”  They continued to laugh.  I hope they were thinking, “Isn’t she charming?” and not “Silly old lady!  What did she think she looked like?”  Looking at the pale wrinkles and folds from my forehead to my waist, I understood why the doctor wanted me to call him if I “need anything.”  Silly man!  Only a magician could save my dignity now!  Of course, I’m not really happy with my neck…

If I could only do something about my neck...

The Daughter says I look too masculine in this photo.

This all gives new meaning to my continuing misery with match.com.  It’s the same old-same old.  The interesting men who are my age don’t want a woman my age.  The rest look like Santa Claus or worse.  Unfortunately, I don’t think any of them has a present in his pack exciting enough to induce me to sit on his lap.  [Sudden thought:  Maybe my profile should say that I’m the woman you want sitting at your death bed praying like mad for you and making you laugh.  Naw.  Probably not.]

Last week, as I was forced to go through my “Daily Matches”, clicking the green check for “Interested” or the orange x for “Not interested”, I started to feel sorry for them.  I reminded myself that they, too, have the same angst about the process that I have.  Looks aren’t everything, you know.  So, I carefully read each of the 11 profiles and decided to click on one man who “caught my eye”, as they say in the online dating game.  He had a tremendous smile and twinkle in his eye (ok, ok, it could have been pixilated by my poor internet connection).  His profile was downright funny and, the real clincher, it was beyond LITERATE!  True to form, he (my age) didn’t want a woman my age or height but claimed to be looking for an intelligent, funny, beautiful woman.

“Well, hey!”  I thought to myself, “three out of five is a pretty close match.  We all need to be realistic about this, buddy” and clicked “Interested”.

Imagine my surprise the next morning to find an email from him!  He gave me a story about how he was so sorry that he was already dating someone else because I was just what he was looking for and that I should hang in there, blah, blah, blah.  Why did he even write me?  Makes no sense.  I responded, thanking him for his kind remarks but telling him that I was done with the whole degrading, demoralizing process because I can’t be taller, younger, or any more fabulous than I already am.  I also referred him to this blog for my real feelings (see “Righteous Indignation” above, sometimes a bad move).  And he replied AGAIN, with the same drivel about “hanging in there” because I was so “fabulous.”  WTH?  What have I ever done to you?  Whine, whine, whine.

Yesterday, 10 days later, his profile popped up on a generic list of men who were online and ready to chat.  Really?  What happened to that woman you were dating last week?  I hope you do read this.  I thought you had possibilities. If you’re reading this, you should know that I was thinking Daniel Craig, not Sean Connery.

Finally, this week, I received an unsolicited email from an attractive older man (I would have said “gentleman” but read on).  He liked my witty, literate profile and commented kindly on my looks (which no one has done yet and is considered an online dating etiquette “no-no”).  Being a sucker for compliments, I went to his profile, reminded myself to be generous and open-minded, found his favorite hobby, and commented on it.  It was something that I find thrilling and that not a lot of people have done (but I have, twice).  He responded within 24 hours and asked me to do it with him (no, it’s not illegal or immoral, and I’m not going to say what it is because maybe, just maybe, I’m wrong about him, although I don’t think so, but I’d really like to be delightfully surprised, and I wouldn’t want to jeopardize anything).  I replied that his offer was “irresistible” and told him a tiny bit more about myself and how I came to be familiar with his hobby.  I also gave him the few days that I was unavailable and waited to hear from him.

I waited 24 hours.  And another 24 hours.  And I’m still waiting.  I think it’s kind of odd that a man would ask a woman out, that she would accept, and that then he wouldn’t follow up.  Maybe he compared notes with the other men on match.com and found out about my blog.  (Damn you, Righteous Indignation!)

On a satisfying note, I completed a state grant that I was writing for the Deer Creek Chorale, with whom I sing.  The writing part is enjoyable.  I love bragging about our wonderful artistic staff, dedicated board of directors, and the tireless and talented singers with whom I perform.  I hope the grantors appreciate what we do for the arts in our underserved community, because we are stellar! For an English major, that’s a no-brainer.  Sadly, it also involves a whole lot of freaking data (like 19 pages of it), which means numbers, numbers, numbers.  Writing this grant is about 20 hours of work (including interim and final reports), hoping to get at least $1,000 and, at most, $2,500.  Last year was our first attempt at a grant from the state, and we were awarded $1,500.  So, who am I to complain?  Life is good, mostly.  Soli Deo Gloria!


How I learned to love my hips

The White Dress

The White Dress

Rejoice with me! I just dodged a bullet. Spanx has debuted a line of $148 “slimming” jeans that don’t come in petites! Woohoo! I don’t feel compelled to try them, and it’s not the excessive length or outrageous price that repels me. There are no jeans at any price that will turn me into a supermodel.

In my lifetime, I suspect that I have spent close to a gazillion dollars trying to convince the general public that I have the body of Twiggy (actually, I wanted to be Jean Shrimpton—google them, if you’re young).

I am no stranger to foundation undergarments and have great appreciation for what they can do and for what I am willing to tolerate under special circumstances, however, most of them have lived up to neither their hype and price tag nor to my unrealistic expectations. I have owned my share of panty girdles (with garters, no less, that’s how old I am), control-top panty hose, body shapers and slimmers, “Miracle” bathing suits (which are a miracle to get into and out of), Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, and, yes, Spanx.

And don’t get me started on bras. Once I catapulted beyond the training bra stage (once they got started, they really got going), I tried lightly padded, underwire, demi, plunging, convertible (into halter- and crisscross styles), strapless, sports, minimizer, T-shirt minimizer (an oxymoron—the padding negates the minimizing effect), and even some items made out of silicone that I do not wish to discuss at this time. I am astounded to recall that a costume designer for a play in which I appeared 15 years ago, convinced me to buy a Wonderbra, all the rage at the time.

“Oh, Suzanne,” he said, “You’re the only actress I know who wears the right foundation undergarments. And look at this fabulous vintage dress I have for you.” It was a spectacular red dress with a low, square neckline and the original label of a designer in 1950’s Havana, like nothing I would ever wear in real life.

“Oh, come on,” I protested. “You’ve got to be kidding me. I’ll wear a real bra instead of a minimizer. You don’t think there’s enough of me already?” Still, it was the perfect look for my cartoonish character, the fiery, jealous wife of a renowned Italian tenor, so I grudgingly relented. Thanks to that Wonderbra and a sashay in my hips that I discovered, I got a laugh every night just by walking onstage.

Apparently, there’s a family of women in southern California who aren’t bothered in the least by the size of their hips. Someone even gave them a television show where they get paid to sashay their curves all over the world, proving that women of all sizes are beautiful. One of the younger sisters is tall and super-skinny in the way that only young women can be, and one of her elders is, well, bigger than life. Or maybe it’s just the 10 pounds of  hype that the camera adds.

I marvel every morning watching our local female meteorologists, well-educated women, stuffed into tight dresses with a serious collection of unintended rolls and lumps which no amount of exercise, dieting, or spandex can prevent. The bald, paunchy weathermen don’t wear Neoprene wet suits to inflate the latest impending storm, so why do they? The American Meteorological Society should include on-camera guidelines in their 100-question, closed-book certifying exam for broadcast meteorologists. This is probably why you don’t see older women journalists on television. Who can wear this stuff?

The Daughter can. And did, recently. She made the mistake of posting a selfie on Facebook, out on the town with her girlfriends in a new, tight-fitting white dress, much like those worn by those California sisters. She works out and isn’t a supermodel by any stretch of the imagination, but she looked fit. I had to blow-up the photo to inspect it for panty lines. I found no rolls or lumps, no lines, nothing, which confused me. Should I be happy that she wasn’t revealing too much, or concerned that she was “going commando”?

It’s probably too late to improve my parenting skills. The next time we talked on the phone, I had to ask about it.

“Was that a new dress you had on Saturday night?” I stupidly asked.

“Yes,” she cautiously replied.

“It fit rather snuggly.” Subtext: Your dress was too freaking tight!

“Yes, Mom, but my girlfriends helped me buy it and said it looked great, and a girl that I don’t even know came up to me and said she loved it. The back is really pretty, lace and scooped out. I’ll text you a photo.”

“Well, that’s nice.” Scooped out back?!

“But I had to wear Spanx under it, which is really annoying.”

Rejoice with me again! She is my daughter! I have raised another generation who knows the importance of foundation undergarments, another reason to sleep soundly. She does want you to know that we aren’t knocking Spanx, which are a vast improvement over girdles of yesteryear, but I’m sometimes actually upset to have them stifle a good meal in my favorite restaurant or make me sweat in places where I didn’t know sweat was possible.

For those of us who no longer feel compelled to wear form-fitting clothes or tight pants daily, I recommend that you save the Spanx for white pants (no need to share a view of your pretty flowered undies with us, thank you) and just wear a body shaper when you’re going to be photographed in a picture you or those you love eventually may see and/or show to their friends.

Forget the “control-top” jeans that won’t eliminate a muffin-top. Wear a tunic or jacket. Don’t trouble yourself with bathing suits that fit like a vise grip and adhere to your thighs when wet. None of them will make you younger, skinnier, or happier.
If they can get away with it in California (and Miami), so can we. I love you just the way you are. God loves us, hips and all. So, who am I to complain? Life is good (mostly). Soli Deo Gloria!