RETIREMENT REDUX

It’s deja vu all over again!! If your first retirement turns out to be just a dress rehearsal…try it again, hopefully this time with a more permanent result.

In April I received news from my beloved Social Security Administration that I could collect survivor’s benefits from my deceased husband and actually make more income than I was making at a full-time job I didn’t love. For the first time in my life I not only wanted to kiss a civil servant, but possibly even birth his babies! Angels sang and the seas parted. I spied my opportunity to write to my heart’s content, unplug my alarm clock, and head for the beach as often as desired. For the first and only time since my husband’s suicide in 2005, there would finally be a by-product with a happy ending. One that didn’t involve shock, devastation, financial mayhem and debt.

My calendar now looks like this:

                                MONDAY

MONDAY

             TUESDAY

TUESDAY

                WEDNESDAY

WEDNESDAY

                THURSDAY

THURSDAY

                 FRIDAY

FRIDAY

                SATURDAY

SATURDAY

                 SUNDAY

SUNDAY

Ahh… it’s off to the hammock for a nap now, under the swaying palms and subtropical breeze. It’s been an exhausting week!

Cupid and The Cadaver #115

Renee Moore:

A blast from the past…because I’m too busy having fun to write a new post!

Originally posted on SAY GOODNIGHT GRACIE:

“Why, oh why do I have all these spots on my face Mama?”, I used to wail when I was little. With a gentle smile my mom always assured me that “Each freckle is where an angel kissed you goodbye before you came back down here to Earth”. I’m pretty sure one of those angels must have peeked at my birth chart and said “We better give this one a super heaping helping of humor, because she’s surely going to need it!” I certainly needed it last night, when Cupid played a little practical joke on me.

Had a blind date with a Cuban writer/newspaper publisher. Great photos and my girlfriends all agreed that he was super hot, not the usual Crypt Keepers I’ve been going out with. He’d chosen a beautiful venue right on the beach at sunset and since I have a strong leaning to bronze Latin types…

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MUZZLE TOV!!

IMG_0521After uttering Oy Vey for the twelfth time yesterday, my new Paradise friend quizzically inquired, “You inject sooo many Yiddish words and expressions into your speech. Are you part Jewish?”

Lounging by the pool later I realized it was true. Bubbe, bupkes, chutzpah, feh!, goy, kibbitz, klutz, kvetsh, mazel tov, mentsh, mishegas, nosh, oy vey, plotz, shalom, schlock, shmendrick, schmaltzy, schmooze, schmuck, spiel, shiksa, shmutz, tchotchke, yenta all lace my speech heavier than I lay on the jalopenos.

Twenty-three years in NYC certainly played a part, but it was the two years I accidently rented a huge pre-war flat in Midwood Brooklyn, not realizing I was in a hotbed of Hasidic Jews, that really enhanced my knowledge of all things Yiddish.

The day after the movers left, I innocently headed out to Avenue M, the closest shopping street, to purchase mops, brooms, and groceries. I thought it strange that there was not a single soul out on the streets, but turning onto the avenue I got the shock of my life. All the stores and businesses were closed, with heavy metal doors pulled down and locked over storefronts. I cursed my decision not to set up my TV the day before, because I knew with certainty that the Arabs had come and World War III was surely at hand. As I raced back to the safety of my beautiful, rent-controlled apartment I pondered how I wanted to spend my last surviving days on earth.

I couldn’t spend my final hours listening to my beloved music; the stereo wasn’t hooked up. Couldn’t send any “Farewell, I love you” messages to dear ones; laptops and cell phones didn’t exist in my world in the mid-eighties. At a loss, I settled for crawling under my beloved brass bed with my two Siamese cats, Pancho and Bailey, a bag of Cheese Puffs, a magnum of Dom Perignon, and a carton of OJ. That way, when the Palestinians broke down my door to annihilate me, at least I’d be semi-comatose.

The next morning, emerging from my war-ravaged hidey hole, I couldn’t resist edging out to the street, the better to see what my destroyed neighborhood looked like. Quel surprise! Skies were blue, the sun was shining, folks were as loud and boisterous as ever, and all businesses were open. That little war I envisioned? Turned out to be nothing more than Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, soon to be followed by Yummy Kippers. You better believe that little holiday didn’t catch me by surprise.

Trust me when I tell you that assimilation into this neighborhood was not easy for this Irish Texican. Every summer walking home from the subway in my 5″ stilettos and Wall Street power suits, I had to run the gauntlet of elderly Hebrew women sitting in their aluminum folding chairs, clucking disapprovingly as I passed by. My approval rating didn’t shoot up when I began dating a wealthy gentleman who sent his black chauffeur to pick me up in a stretch limo, always with an armload of yellow roses in hand.

After two long and arduous years of being the scorned woman on the block, I decided to marry the first stockbroker, attorney, Indian, or Chief I could wrangle and get the hell out of Dodge. Because all those clucking old ladies? They had apparently decided collectively that any port in the storm might be preferable to their darling 50 year-old dentist bachelor nephew dying without a wife…any wife, even a scrawny titian-haired Gentile. Invites were starting to pour in to come to dinner and meet Chayim, Efraim, and Yitzhak. I realized my future could not include a man whose name sounded like a cat yakking up a fur ball.

So it was only fitting when my darling but totally neurotic doggie, Reggae, had to start wearing a muzzle for her own self-protection, that muzzle tov immediately leapt to mind. Her only animal companion for the past 13 years went northward to visit Jesus in November (there’s that darn month again!) and she is so lonely and anxious being an only child that she has begun to chew hotspots on her leg, leaving me with $200 vet bills on each occasion.

None of the muzzles we tried were effective at keeping her from aggravating this wound every time I left her alone or went to sleep. Shofar giving her a dreidel to play with and hanging a mezuzah by the door have not helped either. Clever shiksa wench I am, I finally settled on the Blue Daisy Cone of Shame Therapy hat. The Xanax and Dom Perignon I give her as treats haven’t hurt either.

DSC_0357

TEARDROPS ON THE SAND

image from boatrentik.net

image from boatrentik.net

When the man I’d been dating for seven months proposed to me in October 1987, I hesitated, unsure, unwilling to risk a second marriage. Virgoian by nature, pros and cons lists were drawn up; red flags were duly noted. For two long months I prevaricated. Then came Christmas Day.

It was time to meet Rob’s family, all 29 of them…all at once. “How should I dress?”, I foolishly inquired of him. “Oh, we’re a really laidback, beach-type family, super casual. Jeans and a sweater would be just right”. NEVER ask for sartorial advice from a man, unless he happens to be gay or in the fashion biz, I realized too late, as the door to their home swung open to reveal 29 curious and expectant faces, all impeccably dressed for a formal Christmas dinner in gorgeous cocktail attire.

Despite that rocky start, I was enveloped into this amazing family’s warmth and graciousness and immediately became one of their merry band. I felt like I had been issued a passport into a Norman Rockwell painting, roaring fires in a grand home, massive Xmas trees, piles of gifts, and incredible food. And love and Irish humor, and more love, then more laughter. This was what I’d been searching for so desperately since I was a little kid.

On the way home that night, I told Rob that yes, I would marry him. That raucous Irish clan of his had sealed the deal. I didn’t so much marry a man as much as I married his family, with the stability and continuity I knew I would find there.

For almost 20 years, these thirty souls shared dune-side marriage proposals, beach weddings, Easter egg hunts, and summer vacations at their home on the Jersey Shore. It was a languid and magical period that seemed to have no end, until one day…it did. The family patriarch, Uncle Ed, died suddenly and unexpectedly. This incredible man was so beloved by so many that, despite a massive snowstorm that crippled the Northeast, hundreds of mourners risked life and limb to attend his service. Kilts were donned, pipers piped, and a wake ensued, as only the Irish know how.

All those years of Uncle Ed’s love and devotion that he so generously heaped upon all of us, the special things that he remembered about each and every one of us, despite a very active life in politics and a run for governor of New Jersey. He noted and cataloged the kind of bagels we each liked, our favorite donuts and coffee, who had shellfish allergies. The bar was always stocked with our favorite sins, and a warm welcome and that blue-eyed twinkling smile was always there, solid and immovable and always ready to lend any of us a hand. He and his wife walked the talk when Rob and I were in the midst of an open adoption and the birth mother wanted to live closer to us during her pregnancy. Uncle Ed immediately extended an invitation for her and her young son to come live at their beach house for six months. I can’t conjure the inconvenience this arrangement must have cost them, but that was how this family operated, glued tightly together, bonded against the world.

In the 18 years since Uncle Ed’s passing, many more great grandbabies have been born, weddings planned, and calendar pages flipped. Since Rob’s death in 2005, my son and my connection to the family has loosened, mostly due to geography. It is with incredible sadness I have recently learned of the fracturing of this once rock solid family. Siblings are now pitted against one another, cousins are estranged, mothers and daughters are at war. Sides have been chosen and lines drawn in the sand.

What is at the heart of this treachery? What is the name of the demon destroying this family? A single beach house, a seemingly innocent pile of lumber and memories. As Ed’s beloved widow edges closer to passing from this world, deep into her 90’s, a power struggle for ownership of the beach house has begun, despite legal documents having been drawn up years before, just in the event of such a fight.

With the wisdom and vantage point that only a departed soul can possess, I can only pray that Uncle Ed can see some sense behind all this madness that is causing his beloved children and grandchildren to jockey for position in the quest for this home. I’ve always believed that love, once created, never dies.  It may morph and shape shift, but it cannot be destroyed. I’m puzzled by what form this once strong familial love might have evolved into. Would it be recognizable?

I’m sure those are Uncle Ed’s teardrops I hear splashing on the sand.

GRUMPY CAT AND THE PROM QUEEN

Grumpy Cat/Image from pinterest.com

The Prom Queen/Image from pinterest.com

Were Hollywood to film our two dental practices as their hottest new reality show, it would undoubtedly be entitled “Daughters of Anarchy”. Envision The Shootout at the OK Corral, starring estrogen-soaked ladies with access to loaded weapons…wide open and lawless. Don’t misunderstand, both of my docs are highly skilled and respected by their fiercely loyal patients. It’s the staff who bear the shrapnel scars of gross mismanagement.

Our issues stem from the fact that the owner refuses to use titles for his administrative staff, which leaves us adrift with no management or structure. The three of us dental practice administrators have over 62 years experience between us, yet are not allowed to manage a single aspect of these practices. Dr. Lymp Biskit, our employer, is a total control freak who micromanages every appointment slot and patient communication. He even refuses to order post-it notes in pretty colors because it might provide us a modicum of joy.

This is but a prelude to explain how Grumpy Cat and Prom Queen were allowed to be birthed into existence. Grumpy Cat and The Prom Queen are both Registered Dental Hygienists who share open-bay operatories side by side. Most of their downtime at work is spent plotting to kill the other, much like the old Tom and Jerry cartoons.

Grumpy Cat is consistently early to work and faithfully sets up Prom Queen’s room, while Prom Queen arrives 30 seconds before her first patient is due, redolent of cheap perfume and good intentions. GC makes sure her patient is never left alone while waiting for a doctor check, and makes certain every detail of her day is in order. PQ abandons her patients for long periods of time so she can sit in the kitchen, in full view of the doctors, and catch up on her texting.

These two loathe each other so much, they prefer to pay outside dental offices to clean their teeth, rather than cleaning one another’s. Imagine lying back, defenseless, while your sworn enemy wields floss and an explorer.

I’m not implying Grumpy Cat doesn’t have her reasons to be pissed at the hand she has been dealt, heavens no. She has a disabled husband who will only ingest meat, potatoes, and pizza. As a Foodie, that is indeed a bitter pill to swallow. They are a single-income household due to his infirmities, so Grumpy Cat can’t even purchase amusement and distractions. But is that any reason to come in cranky every morning? Course, if I sported that do atop my shoulders…In addition to the Miley Cyrus haircut abortion she proudly dons CROCS! And those of you who read Bobby Barrettes know only too well that CROCS are the government’s attempt to stop procreation in its tracks.

Grumpy Cat’s demeanor is a perfect match to her strident, bellowing Chicago accent, which cuts like a rabid boomerang through our tiny office. A simple “Good morning” aimed in her direction earns you a snarl and a suspicious, “What’s so f…ing good about it?” She is a resplendent vision in her grey hair, ashen skin, and steel grey scrubs.

The Prom Queen WOULD be beautiful, with her thick mane of blond hair and perfect features sitting atop a perfect 29-year-old body, honed by excessive hours of Cross Fit. WOULD be…were it not for the “I is stoopid” tattoo inked across her high forehead. Each sentence uttered is littered with many “like…like” and “ya knows?” A Valley Girl’s English couldn’t top this chirping little cricket.

Her topics of conversation only number two. How soon will Grumpy Cat die and is there any way she can hasten her demise? And why are the only men interested in her the Gym Rats with heads the size of watermelons? She remains perplexed about why they never call her after having sex on the first date.

Were any of the three managers actually allowed to manage, GC would be given a reprimand and a write-up and PQ would be snipping locks at Great Clips. When the long-anticipated homicide finally does occur, the only mystery will be who shot who first.

Image from theblackandolivechronicles.wordpress.com

LADY SHATTERLEY

PondsLadyPotty

NO SHIT SHERLOCK”

This is the sign I’ve decided to needlepoint for the door to the restroom of our dental practice where I toil my life away. While we do have killer water views, we are extremely space challenged and patients and staff must share the same bathroom, which I’m sure must thrill Dr. Lymp Biskit, my germaphobic employer.

Last week an elderly patient disappeared in said bathroom for a suspiciously long time. When she finally emerged after thirty minutes, she made an odd comment to the front desk receptionist, “Going to the bathroom at my age can be hard.”

My translation of that cryptic remark was, “When you get older you have to pee a lot more often, which is tough.” Several minutes later, when one of our unsuspecting dental assistants innocently wandered in there, then immediately emerged gagging and retching, I realized my translation skills for ELDER SPEAK were nil. Does Rosetta Stone sell a language tutorial entitled Geriatric?

Moments later the hapless assistant re-entered the scene of the intestinal crime, dressed head to toe in a hazmat suit, hazmatwhere she proceeded to clean up the explosive diarrhea left behind by this patient, who was dripping diamonds from at least seven fingers. Now I was beginning to understand her comments about going to the bathroom being “hard”.

HARD…as in it’s hard for me to see the splattered poopage decorating the walls and floor of the bathroom due to my recent cataract surgery.

HARD…as in it’s hard to flush that toilet handle whilst being weighted down by all these carats on my wizened hands.

HARD…as in it’s difficult to smell the olfactory mayhem I left behind since my most recent rhinoplasty.

The best fun was still to come. When the patient was finally seated in an operatory, having her cavities filled, she was once again overcome by yet another round of gastrointestinal mischief. All eleven of us were now running around opening doors for fresh air, spraying gallons of Lysol, and profusely apologizing to our other trapped patients. I had a gleeful moment imagining Dr. Lymp Biskit being forced to sit through this while he was filling her cavities.

In my twenty years of working in dental practices it has always been an unwritten rule that “Whosoever shall discover it…must also deal with it”. Whether it be geriatric poopage, diapers, drug paraphernalia, bodily fluids of various types, shrimp a patient wanted to barter, or even that baby goat. You stumble upon it, you inherit it.

So, in between rounds of gut-busting laughter the rest of that afternoon, I did remember to look heavenward several times and offer up a wee prayer of gratitude to Allah, Trigger, and Rin Tin Tin, that I wasn’t the poor SOB who stumbled upon that carnage.

dog who pooped

Feature image courtesy of http://www.antiquebottles.co

TEACHING YOU TO DANCE IS LIKE TRYING TO NAIL JELLO TO A TREE

elaine dancing

Ahh, those blissful dreams where you are on your fourth job interview and you look down and realize you are stark naked? And the times you simply could not stop snorting with laughter during a loved one’s memorial service? And the teenage dates where your impossibly pimply new boyfriend is perched uncomfortably on the edge of your couch, while your hidden Boston Terrier lets rip a silent but deathly from her invisible hidey hole under your Mom’s couch?

Trust me…none of those compare with the night I was summoned to the front of my second ballroom dance class and handed back a refund in full. Josephina, the autocratic Austrian dance instructor, sniffed disdainfully as she informed me, “My dear, please do us both a favor and never, EVER, under any circumstances consider that dance has any meaningful place in your life. Not only should you never darken the door of this studio again, I implore you to please never inflict yourself upon any other dance teacher, EVER. I’m sure you must have several things you do well, but trust me, dear, THE DANCE and YOU were never destined to be friends in this lifetime.” I briefly pondered whether Arthur Murray Dance Studios were covered by this lifetime prohibition.

Chastened and mortified, I slunk out of that crowded room wondering how my Fred and Ginger fantasies could take such a wicked downturn. Sure, it was true I had stepped on many feet during those two lessons, and of course, I went left instead of right at least 80% of the time, and even excluding that awkward incident where I stumbled over that sweet elderly couple and took them straight down onto the hardwood floor…jeez people! Isn’t that why it’s called a CLASS? Instruction? If you already know how to do it all beautifully, why would I need to shell out $300 for lessons?

I started dancing when I was thirteen, in the 1960’s. No one needed to touch anyone when you were jerking, twisting, locomoting, and hanky pankying to Twist and Shout, Runaround Sue, Brown Eyed Girl, and Mustang Sally. In the event that you did slow dance with a boy, no skill was required; simply clutch each other tight and pretend you were sharing a full-body condom, then lightly shuffle feet. Perfection guaranteed, and as a bonus gift, often a baby nine months later!

For over forty years I have managed to not quite kill anyone on a dance floor, whilst still able to keep my hip rhythm nicely intact, thank you very much. I assure you not a single husband or boyfriend has withered from mortification at my performance on the dance floor. Not until my arrival in Paradise anyway.

These zany bastards actually want to touch you when they dance. Yep, and not only that, they want to twirl, spin, and dip you, all to some foreign roadmap I have never been exposed to. Was I absent from school the week they taught this stuff in eighth grade? Maybe it happened the year I went to school in a quonset hut in Bad Hersfeld Germany while my Dad was in the Army? Because every other woman in Paradise knows about this secret dance situation…except me.

I am utterly perplexed by how they know, seemingly intuitively, when to go right or left and when the dude is preparing to twirl them around. I go to many dances and keep my CIA-trained eyes latched onto these women, searching, longing to know their secret.

I truly believe it must occur when the Mothership spirits them away for their nocturnal adventures. I realize that when Whitley Strieber wrote in his NY Times best seller “Communion” about the anal probings he was subjected to…he was really referring to The Dance, Boss, The Dance.

So, Mr. Adorable, here’s my deal. If you expect me to dance like a real girl at disco night tomorrow, I suggest you get me an express ticket on the Mothership tonight, because I now understand what is really happening on these alien invasions.

Featured image courtesy of NY mag.com

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