Friday, October 31, 2014

                       Living With Another Person in the 21st Century (update 2014)

After living with another person (Mr. Wonderful) for two more years after writing this essay, I have discovered some new guidelines for living in the perfect two-person world.
The fact that I have now accepted being “of a certain age” has something to do with my perspective. 

Updated Guidelines:

Outdoor Maintenance:  Man hires company to manage, and woman revels in no grass or leaves on white carpet.

Sex:  Can’t remember.

Conflicts:  Man responsible for all shit. He owns. Woman smiles and shops.

Groceries:  No need. Local restaurants know us by our nicknames.

Investments:  In what? for what? so what?

Social Plans:  Can’t remember.

Technology:  Man deals with all issues, especially calls to India.

Finances:  Can’t look. Makes us both cry.

Garbage:  Ask George Carlin.

Sports:  He watches on his own TV. I love it when one guy throws the football, and the other guy catches it.

Newspaper:  There are none.

Alcohol:  Thank the Lord.

Movies:  $15 for a movie is dumb. We can stay home and watch for free and spend $15 on sex toys.

Romance:  What’s that?

Cooking:  You must be kidding. Who does this?

Chores:  Ask Molly Maid.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


The Big Guy may have created us, but I don’t think he put a lot of thought into two humans living together for more than enough time to create offspring (however long that may take--another subject). Living together fifty years ago is much different than cohabitating in the age of Technology.

There are certain guidelines that should be met so that spouses do not murder each other. Actually, if you ever wanted to feel as though you wanted to murder someone, living together would be a good apprenticeship. Here are some guidelines I have set forth for posterity. This is not to imply that they are followed, but in a perfect world (21st century only) it would look like this:

Chores:  Man does all.

Remote:  Woman has total control.

Social Plans:  Woman in charge.

Outdoor Maintenance:  Man only.

Repairs:  Man only.

Finances:  Man supplies funds, woman spends.

Parenting:  Man relieves woman whenever asked.

Groceries:  Woman’s job.

Sex:  Up to Big Guy.

Conflicts:  Man owns shit.

Investments:  Man supplies money. Hires expert.

Technology:  Each spouse has a computer, Ipod, I-phone. Man fixes wife’s if not working.

Vacations:  Man supplies funds. Woman plans trip. Couple enjoys.

Credit cards:  Man supplies funds. Woman spends.

Schlepping:  Man’s job.

Errands:  Woman makes list. Man does.

Compatibility:  Man compliments woman frequently and sincerely. Woman tells him he’s hot.

Garbage:  Couple makes. Man disposes.

Movies:  Woman decides. Man goes. Man pays for Junior Mints.

Sports:  Man plays with men. Woman plays with women. Man plays with woman when invited.

Compromise:  Man gives 75%.

Alcohol:  Man buys. Woman drinks.

Cooking:  Woman cooks when in the mood.  Man smiles.

Romance:  Man sets stage, woos wife. Wife decides if she has a headache.

Newspaper:  Man shares front page with woman and doesn’t spread entire section all over breakfast table.

Idiosyncracies:  Man apologizes often.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

                               I Wish I Had a Grandma

     I am a grandma, but the grandmas of my generation were very different than me or than many of my peers. My grandmas weren’t focused on looking young, chic or cool. 
They weren’t online looking for bargains on the latest Vince Camuto stilettos or the trendiest leggings. They weren’t planning their next trip to some exotic location or thinking about how they were going to fit in nine holes before the wine tasting. They didn’t worry about what we called them. They were our grandmothers. They weren’t worried about how old people thought they were. They were proud of their titles, and they didn’t need to hide behind “Mémé” or “Nana” or “Ya Ya” like me and some of my also vain peers.  My grandmas were too busy baking coffee cake or smoothing the sheets on the bed for our overnights. 

     I had two grandmas. That may sound strange to some today who have three or more. With the high divorce rate, grandmas are multiplying as fast as people splitting. Whether this is good or bad for children remains to be seen. 

     I remember my paternal grandma. She was one of my top three role models for many reasons. (The other two were her children--my father and my aunt). She was a Scandinavian immigrant who came over here with less than $20 in her pocketbook as a teen-ager. Her English skills were minimal, and after she married my grandfather, she ran a boarding house for years. During that time, she had three children of her own so she had to share her time and energy with the people who counted on her for room and board. Needless to say, she spent hours in the kitchen and many hours on her hands and knees cleaning. She raised three very intelligent, highly independent and ultimately successful children. All three of them inspired me and carried on her legacy as ambitious, nurturing, loving parents and role models. 

     My visits to my grandma’s house were magical. I was treated like a princess and loved just because. I didn’t have to perform or achieve; I just had to be me. I had friends in her neighborhood with whom I played for hours, and when I came back to grandmas house, my favorite dishes would be on the table, and the conversation was always about me. I was treated like an adult but loved like a child. 

     Solo visits to my grandma’s house were frequent and long so I really knew her well. My grandpa was loving too, but he was always down the basement puttering with some project. He didn’t talk much, but there was always a twinkle in his eye for me, and I felt his love without his words. 

     When I was in college, I would come home on break and visit my grandma. We would sit on her front porch, and she would serve me a cup of her delicious coffee and homemade Swedish coffee bread. She would look at me first thing after setting down our snack, and say, “Now tell me everything that’s going on since I saw you last.” She would hang on my every word asking about boy friends, my studies, my dreams. It was all about me. I didn’t realize at the time the lessons she was teaching:  how to listen, how to nurture, how to love. She was a strong, amazing woman who asked for nothing and gave so much. 

     When I became a grandma, I thought who loves me unconditionally like that? Hopefully, our spouses and children, but that’s different. When there is a person who has lived longer and had a life unlike our own, there is a unique perspective that no child or spouse can offer. It’s a relationship that we should cherish and record, for we don’t always realize the joys and lessons it provides. “I miss you, Grandma. Could you come back so we can catch up? It's been 49 years, and I think of you more than you can imagine. I know how to make pretty good coffee.”

Monday, October 27, 2014

                                             Why Mr. Wonderful Loves My Cooking

     “When I was in college, I worked in the girls’ dorm. I could only afford one meal a day besides the free one I earned working there. So every morning, I started my day with Mapo,” said Mr. Wonderful. “Mapo?” I gasped. “Anyone under 80 will not know what Mapo is,” I laughed.

     I don’t cook. Well, I cook, but I don’t use recipes. Recipes require ingredients that I don’t choose to stock and many offer calories I don’t choose to ingest. Based on the above, this is part of why Mr. Wonderful is so tolerant of my feckless efforts to prepare a meal. He started out with Mapo, got divorced and had to cook for himself and ended up with me, Ms. Pas-de-recettes! The man will eat anything that doesn’t resemble a breakfast cereal that looks like gravel. 

     Those who can concoct a delectable dish with real taste spend a great deal of time at farmers markets and watching the food networks. I will never be a “foodie.” I am a “give-me-a-two-minute-second-grader-recipe” kind of gal. I don’t like quantities of any kind of food, even sweets. Give me a fresh 3-oz. portion of salmon (with maybe a 1/2 teaspoon of bearnaise), eight or nine fresh haricots verts, a thick piece of bread that I have to actually chew, a buttery glass of chardonnay, and I’m good to go. No lettuce necessary, and no dessert 99% of the time. Sometimes I do treat myself with a teaspoon or two of Edy’s Low Fat Caramel Delight. Now I know I should eat the lettuce and forget the Delight, but lettuce is not in my quality world. I eat it only because I have to, and then I have roll it up in little balls and follow with a wine chaser. 

     Back to Mr. Wonderful. Now this man who will eat anything that is healthy and that doesn’t require him to lift a hand, will eat leftovers even if they’ve been in the fridge since 1968. A depression baby, he values everything remotely valuable. I’m optimistic about his recovery, though, as he hasn’t yet begun saving string like my father did. My father left over 83 acres of string he had saved over the years. 

     For years, he has begged me to make tuna-noodle casserole. His mother used to make it for him, of course, probably when he was four. I told him that “casseroles” are not on my diet. I finally relented, however, and made him an authentic version of this artery-blocker. It was pretty good, but after the fourth bite, I had to leave the table. My stomach felt like I had eaten a bowling ball. The cream just stuck to my intestines and pulled my entire body within inches of the floor. Ugh.

     I’ve decided to save up so I can buy him a box of Mapo for Christmas. I’m going to put it on a tiny stool with a note from Santa saying, “Merry Christmas, sport. Hope this brings back fond memories of the girls’ dorm and motivates you to share with Madame Feckless, the Queen.”

                                                   BOOTIES=Quality of Life

     Some financial guru tried to teach me that there is a difference between “needs” and “wants.” What is this concept to a woman? That’s like asking a man to choose between watching the Super Bowl and taking a free ride in a B-17. There is no shoe a woman “needs” other than maybe a shoe horn or a shoe-in. Shoes are always a “want,” especially those  for yours truly.

     Booties are “in.” How can I pass up these hot show-stoppers? They are classy, sassy and kick - ---y! And. . . they are on sale, plus there’s a code for 15% off. Granted the shipping and the tax eats that code up in one gulp, but still. If I don’t send them to the cart and buy them in less than six hours, I know I am going to wake up in the middle of the night with the laces around my neck in my struttin’ nightmare. Oh, my. Suzy Orman, “eat your heart out.” 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

                                              J'en ai Peur

     Je m’inquiète de ce qui se passe dans le monde. Il y a de la violence partout, et les tragédies d’aujourd’hui sont oubliées le lendemain, remplacées par encore d’autres plus tristes. Une vie n’est plus importante. On respecte peu, et si vous avez plus de soixante ans, vous êtes invisibles.

     Est-ce que c’est parce que grâce à la technologie, nous savons ce qui se passe dans tous les pays du monde? Est-ce que c’est parce que nous n’avons pas considéré importants ceux qui souffrent des maladies mentales? C’est parce que nous n’avons pas fait attention à la pauvreté et à ceux qui étaient abusés? Je ne sais pas. Je sais que tout ce qui arrive dans le monde actuel me fait peur. J’ai peur pour mes enfants, pour mes petits enfants, pour les vieux qui ne peuvent plus se protéger. J’ai peur des maladies qui tuent les innocents. Ceux qui ont essayé d’aider les malades et les affamés tombent malades, et ceux qui essayent d’écrire leur histoire sont kidnappés.

     C’est la voix d’une vieille dame ou celle d’une femme qui se demande quoi faire?

     Je me sens sans pouvoir. J’en suis fâchée et frustrée. Je me souviens d’ une vie simple et sans soucis. Quand j’étais petite, ma seule souci c’était que ma maman me demanderait que je rentre. Je jouais au “cowboys and Indians” dans le jardin. Je ne voulais pas rentrer.  Quelquefois je ferais la tête. 

     Quand j’étais adolescente, ma seule souci était quel garçon me demanderait de l’accompagner au bal ou au match de basketball. 

     Au passé, on savait qui était l’ennemi. C’était Hitler ou Castro ou Hussein ou Bin Laden. Actuellement, nous n’avons aucune idée qui est l’ennemi. Nous ne savons pas où il se trouve. Il se peut qu’il habite à côté de chez nous. Il se peut qu’il n’ait que 14 ans.

     Je ne regarde plus le télé-journal. Je préfère les dessins animés. Ils me font rire. Je ne veux plus trembler de peur. Quoi faire?

Friday, October 24, 2014

     On “romantic nights,” some couples get in the mood with various tunes. Some may play them on the stereo, some on their i-pods and others maybe just sing them aloud at appropriate times. Here are some titles for those who need a little bit of inspiration. 

I Swear
So Many Ways
Ain’t We Got Fun?
Did I Shave My Legs for This?
Let it Be
I Gotta Feeling
Too Close
Help Me
It’s Not Unusual
Quando Quando Quando
My Prayer
The Lady is a Tramp
Cheek to Cheek
Tik Tok
Woomp (There It Is)
All Night Long
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Just In Time 
Stayin’ Alive

These are all legitimate tunes. Just sayin’.