MY BLOND ROOTS ARE BACK

be a stripper

Poor Mr. Adorable; once again I plan on laying the blame for my extreme blondness directly at his feet. You would think that after fourteen months of dating, the helium might be escaping his balloon, but no. He just gets more adorable, funnier, and downright intriguing as time passes, which keeps me in a perpetual state of dizzy blondness. I can’t think straight, wear mismatched shoes, and leave my flat with half my unruly hair straightened and the remainder looking like an electrocuted puddy cat. Or maybe I should blame this morning’s misadventure on Cam Newton? So many men, so much blame to mete out.

After previously residing in North Carolina for 17 years, it was necessary for my survival to become a Carolina Panthers fan. Then Cam’s brashness, swagger, and ridiculous talent hit my radar screen like a lovebug on a bumper. I was one hooked fan and saw a glimpse of heaven when my beloved boys were headed to Santa Clara. All those years of loyalty were about to pay off…not. By halftime I was in shocked disbelief and by the end of the 3rd quarter I was bereft. Bed and vats of cabernet would be my consolation prizes.

Waking at 5am to Mr. Adorable’s alarm, I decided to shoulder on and not exercise my Kervorkian cola option, though suicide certainly seemed like a reasonable reaction to my disappointment. Instead, I took my red, swollen-eyed self down to my dark, underground parking garage to head to my perfect part-time job as a church secretary (I know, I know, insert uproarious laughter here, but I love it!) and knew I was screwed the moment I pressed the remote to unlock my car. I clearly remembered arriving home in the rain on Saturday, completely distracted by my date that night, what I would wear, the art festival we were attending on Sunday and where we might have lunch. This handsome man scrambles my brain like potato chips in a juke box. Exiting my tiny car in the very dark garage, I turned on my interior light to make sure I had collected all my stuff and completely forgot to turn it back off. All I could think was that at least I had purchased jumper cables last year when this fate first befell me and Mr. Adorable on a dark and deserted beach. But, they were in my car, which I now couldn’t unlock. Aapis Crappis.

I decided to try my resort’s doorman prior to calling AAA, as today was, OF COURSE, the very day that a brand new pastor was starting at our church. Awesome first impression to be two hours late for the new minister dude. Oscar, our doorman, very sweetly inquired if I remembered that in the days prior to technology we actually inserted a metal key into one’s door lock to gain entrance. A jump box was located and soon my day proceeded, but not before 3 building employees gathered guffawing around my vehicle and had to hear the story of how I had not only left my light on for 36 hours, but had apparently forgotten the concept of locks and keys, as well. Surely the world needs more smart-mouth doormen possessing advanced college degrees?

For all you young sprockets who firmly believe life is over at 50, I can assure you there are many more important numbers that truly matter. Having, in your 60’s, the amped up hormones of a 14-year-old, the possible dementia of a 90-year-old, and the will and desire to live until you’re 85 simply because you are having such an amazing life!

 

 

 

THE $400 BOWL OF OATMEAL

bowl of oatmealSubtitle “The High Cost of Being Late”.

The world isn’t divided into the haves and have nots, but instead the anally compulsive early arrivers and the fly by the seat of your pants and hope for the best crew. I am loathe to admit I am the former and Bree, one of my dearest friends, is the latter.

So when Bree decided to make her first pilgrimage to Paradise to visit me, I was thrilled. She carefully relayed her itinerary, which included leaving her house for the airport at 4:30am. Since she is someone I would never consider ringing before noon, I felt some trepidation, but decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, even though it meant leaving my adorable little part-time job as a church secretary (insert uproarious laughter here! But that’s a tale for another day; suffice it to say Ms. Ants in Her Pants simply doesn’t excel at retirement) early in order to meet her flight.

On the way to the airport I received a terse text stating she had missed her flight and would arrive several hours later. Apparently Bree had laid out a careful timetable for herself, but at the last moment decided that a hot & steamy bowl of oatmeal at her kitchen table would be the perfect start to her 8-day vacation. When she finally arrived at the airport she was late enough they wouldn’t allow her to board; no problem except the tiny regional airport only has one flight out a day to my neck of the woods.

Pondering whether this was a sign from the cosmos saying go home and cancel your trip, she decided instead to risk driving to LaGuardia to see if she could fly out of there instead, a tiny detail she neglected to tell me in her text. When she finally stumbled through the arrivals gate, she looked like a character from “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” The Walking Dead”. She was frazzled, rattled, and her eyeballs were spinning backward in her head. Did I mention she was wearing jeans, a sweater, and was toting a parka? Peeps, when you come to visit Paradise I kid you not when I beseech you to pack nothing but swimsuits and shorts! In the past year, we’ve had 313 sunny days averaging 80 degrees.

Bree was surprised to discover that the daily parking rate at LaGuardia would cost her $184 more than she had budgeted. No problem; she would temporarily park there and have her stepdaughter retrieve her car and park it at the original airport, except this didn’t happen for 5 days due to the Thanksgiving holidays. Then she had to overnight her car keys to said stepdaughter, costing her $62 each way, because she needed them back in order to pick up her car at the original airport. Then she realized she had neglected to put the parking stub in the envelope with the car keys, costing an additional $42 UPS overnight fee. Add to that the $50 change fee the airline charged to issue her a new ticket from LaGuardia, this entire bowl of oatmeal ended up costing her $400.

For all the New Age, hippy-dippy, airy fairy thinking Bree and I have in common, I will always remain the worrying, hand-wringing planner, while she will blissfully continue to decide on a company dinner menu at 7PM!

A bowl of oatmeal…$400; the value of friendship…priceless.

 

ARGENTINIAN ANTS IN MY PANTS

Image from drawception.com

Image from drawception.com

Oh oh, my first encounter with trouble in Paradise. I’m either about to be arrested for MAJOR cocaine possession, or El Chapo, the escaped Mexican drug lord, is about to show up on my doorstep demanding to know why I have about 3 kilos of his white powder laid out on my lanai floor. Either way, my future is not looking so glowing.

My road to perdition began about one month ago, when I drew back my Bahamian curtains to greet the sunshine and morning and saw…my entire white lanai floor covered in chocolate brown sand, which had definitely not been there the previous night. As my sleepy brain was trying to process this situation, I couldn’t fail to notice that the entire floor was in motion. Stepping out to investigate, I realized that my outdoor living space had been high jacked by approximately 10,000 teeny ants. Thinking they were fire ants, after years of living in Texas and the Carolinas, I immediately grabbed my laptop and googled “Tiny Evil Bastards”.

Turns out Evita wasn’t the only thing brought here from Argentina; Linepithema Humile came along for the ride as well. As luck would have it, they eat the honeydew that is produced by honeysuckle, which covers the entire lanai side of my flat. Am I a lucky girl or what?  For some reason this season the landscapers had decided to leave the gorgeous orange honeysuckle untrimmed until its bloom cycle finished. This left the shrubs pushing hard against my screens, creating expressways for my miniscule roommates to move in.

Enter my new favorite Man of My Dreams, Joey the exterminator, who sadly informed me that all his beetlejuice would do is kill off the workers, forcing the queens to produce more and more replacement ants. “Don’t even waste a dime on poisons, totally worthless, and yeah, that’s coming from me, an exterminator. If you tell property management I said that, I’ll deny, deny. Get these bushes trimmed back and spread baby powder all around. It doesn’t kill them, just scares them shitless. Trust me on this.”

Always one to bow to authority, especially ones with a giant cockroach on top of their service vehicle, I promptly headed to Dollar Tree and bought their entire inventory of talc. The curious cashier couldn’t resist inquiring, so I opted for livening up her dull day. “I just kidnapped 8 newborns from the hospital down the street and if you don’t stop with the questions, one of those squirts is gonna get it!”

In a hormonal homicidal rage I raced home and fired up the industrial strength shop vac Mr. Adorable had loaned me and began dispatching both the living and the dead to their maker. I was chuckling like a mad woman as I spread that baby powder over every square inch of my lanai; I even poofed it onto the screens themselves, as a way of having the final knockout in this battle.

As a testament of my gratitude to Joey, whose wily expertise allowed me to regain my precious outdoor real estate back, we are currently planning an October wedding. If you think talcum powder is just for stinky baby butts…you would be wrong, soooo wrong.

The only downside to my happy ending is…this powdery substance is apparently permanent; it refuses to be vacuumed or swept up. It is seemingly a part of the floor, which has lead to some inquisitive and lingering glances from the two narcotics officers who live across the way.

As for El Chapo’s eminent arrival, I’ve got that covered. Stocked my bar with a bottle of Gran Patron Platinum, have a succulent platter of enchiladas suizas in the oven and a huge skillet of frijoles refritos simmering on the stove. Figure I’ll get the chubby little Mexican drunk and stuffed, then hand him a rolled up hundred dollar bill, send him out to the lanai and ask him to breath deeply. BTW, I fully intend to collect on his bounty!

WHEN YOUR CURRY DOESN’T HURRY

comcast suxIt took COMCAST only five days to do what no one else has successfully achieved in 62 years. They turned this flower child, peace-loving, OM chanting pacifist into a heavily armed and dangerous weapon of redheaded annihilation. I want to terminate every single Indian citizen in New Delhi or Calcutta who works for any call center. I am now officially a racist.

Those elitist snobs (generally liberal Democrats who voted for President Obarfup) who sniff disdainfully at something foul in the wind when asked about their TV viewing habits and will only reluctantly cop to watching PBS? Not me Sista. I am an unabashed TV baby. My DVR holds such a special place in my life that I prepare it kosher meals and set an extra plate for her at dinner. We get manis and pedis together; she is truly my BFF.

So, when one of our daily violent lightening storms blew her up last week, I was understandably devastated. Since this wasn’t my first rodeo with a scorched DVR, I went through all the usual checklist before embarking on that dreaded 90-minute phone call with Raj or Samir in India. Reboot, check, 3 times. Swap out cables, check, twice. Not even Mr. Adorable, with his backpack of skills, could fix my issue. Nothing revived my darling DVR; she was officially DOA and my 48 episodes of “The Barefoot Contessa”, 20 assorted movies, “The Millionaire Matchmaker”, and 79 “House Hunters” would have to RIP beside her.

Grief-stricken and verklempt, I fortified myself with two Grey Goose dirty martinis prior to placing that dreaded call; here in Paradise COMCAST will not send a repair tech to your home until you have been ground down by Raj or Samir for a requisite 90 minutes. It’s like penance for a Catholic; you can’t achieve relief until you ante up the vig. First, you are required to input every personal identifier God could create, not simply your account number and name, like any other company with a conscience and a soupcon of customer service. DOB, SS#, complete address, how many ounces of lint are currently residing in your belly button, and what was the maiden name of your eighth grade boyfriend’s mother?

Then, suddenly, there is the ear-splittingly high-pitched, heavily accented voice of one Raj, who persists in calling himself Joe, Bob, or Jim. They love to spin the fantasy that they are just around the corner from wherever you are, and are American to boot. “Oh hello Miss Ree Knee. So pleased to be allowed the most intense pleasure of the possibility of perhaps assisting you in your utmost troubles this very evening. How can your faithful servant Joe facilitate your joy this most pleasant day?” If obsequious was a scent I’d be inhaling that and chicken curry vindaloo through the phone line.

Predictably, after 90 minutes of rug-burned knees, holding a flashlight between my teeth and twisting my arthritic bits into positions that would make Swami Muktananda proud, and wriggling around like a Thalidomide baby, Joe sighs. “My most humble disappointment at being unable to assist you in your sorrowing troubles will be most vexing to me for long time to yet come, I am sure. My failure to resolve your sadness will bring deep shame upon my family’s name for many centuries forward. I apologetically request that you drive over two hours tomorrow and the headquarters will replace your annihilated box and cable, most enthusiastically I’m quite certain.”

Joe’s strikeouts continued when Headquarters smugly informed me that they changed policy and no longer allow customers to swap out their damaged boxes. Would I like to schedule a tech house call 4 days hence? No… but what I really wanted to do was rearrange all of your teeth, without benefit of anesthetic.

Arriving home, after a 2-hour drive to and from Paradise, with my deceased BFF on the seat beside me, I received a call from Samir, Joe’s more demonic and much less polite coworker. He demanded that I immediately reconnect all that Joe had put asunder the evening prior in order that his advanced technical team could run diagnostics. Looking down at the rug burns on my knees and elbows, I sweetly demurred; I would wait the four long days. “In that situation it will be most essential to cancel the technician visit; they cannot be scheduled until we resolve your trouble, which we most unreservedly do, over 120% of our chances.” Garrotted and defeated, I once again hit the carpet, knowing at least another 90 minutes of skin to surface pleasure was on the menu. When Samir was thwarted in his resurrection attempts, he promptly hung up on me. Yep, no exchange of pleasantries or good wishes for BFF’s successor, no marriage proposal, no plans to meet to break garlic naan…just a dead phone line.

Today, Day 4 arrives, as does COMCAST tech and hero Adam, who diagnosed and corrected the problem in under 3 seconds. My dear BFF was rescued from the jaws of death and pronounced fully restored, no replacement needed. Did I mention Adam is completely and resoundingly AMERICAN. Amen.

COMCAST…Satan is preparing a special place in hell for you and your imperious ways as we speak. And that, my friend, is the most polite thing I am allowed to say about how much you suck on this PG rated blog.

comcast

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!

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