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You can run, but can’t hide, from a squeaky wheel

Depending on the day, a shopping trip to Target can be about as fun as cleaning the toilet on a Saturday morning before your first cup of coffee.

Interestingly, a quick glance of someone’s cart contents might reveal the truth of the person pushing the cart. In my cart, this particular day, you’d probably see a bottle of wine wedged somewhere between the chocolate and Metamucil.

Trying to forget my numerous irritations, I continued checking things off the list when in the far distance between frozen foods and the bread aisle I hear the consistent sound of squeaking.

Deciding between a small or large loaf of high-fiber bread, I was distracted with the irritating squeak, squeak, squeaking sound. My eyes shifted the aisle to see if anyone else was agitated by the ear-piercing squeal motoring its way towards the bread aisle.

I reached for the bread that promises a fiber-rich cleansing, when a motorized cart squeals around the corner with its senior driver at the helm wearing a sweatshirt proclaiming he was the “World’s Best Grandpa.” Clearly, he was oblivious to the rusty wheel screeching its high pitch of despair when asking the Target employee, “Where’s the Pepsi?”

I had already wandered off and was heading in that exact direction of the beverage aisle when I heard World’s Best Grandpa” kick his motor scooter into high gear, restarting the rusty squeal all over again.

A flash in my peripheral vision noticed that “Go Cart Gramps” overshot his destination and screeched by the beverage aisle. Discovering this, he immediately did a U turn in his motor buggy, creating a grating and falsetto sound.

FINALLY, heads turned with displeasing looks, and I wasn’t the only one with ringing eardrums. “Geriatric Mario Andretti” was going all NASCAR in Target and wreaking havoc in every grocery aisle he rolled through. This “World’s Worst Driver” didn’t have a clue his calamity cart was driving Target shoppers to the edge. Or, was it just me?

Next, I escaped to the household section for a pretty candle that could be added to my midlife survival kit, wherein were the sweet sounds of NOTHING and the solitude scent of lemon lavender.  Far off in the distance “Mayhem Mario” was annoying other poor souls and possibly looking for a can of WD40!

Meanwhile, I was dipping my nose in the aroma of Tahitian Vanilla and relishing the serenity when, unbelievably, the moment was invaded with that recognizable sound.

If you were standing next to me, you would’ve noticed the shock and awe look on my face. I barely got my nose out of Tahiti, when I looked towards the end of the aisle and like a buzz saw was Target’s new NASCAR nuisance screaming by with wheel wailing in high throttle.

Was “World’s Most Annoying Gramps” out to get me?

I did what any annoyed premenopausal woman would do. I BUSTED out laughing!

There I stood alone in Target’s candle aisle laughing myself to tears. I was doubled over, trembling with laughter. I knew I had to compose myself, so I managed to pull myself together, escape the candle aisle in an upright position and safely make it to the checkout line.

While unloading my survival necessities, it dawned on me that my shoulders felt lighter, my head felt euphoric, and the tightness in my chest was gone.

Thanks toWorld’s Best Grandpa,” he eventually helped me forget my irritations with a good resounding belly laugh.

Surprisingly, there’s nothing better than the medicine of laughter to improve your disposition and ease your squeaky wheel.

— Laurie Oien

Laurie Oien is a wife and mother living in Minnesota and determined to uncover the second half of life with zest and zeal. She has a background in marketing and accounting for the last 25 years and recently discovered that one can’t live by adding machines and numbers alone. Therefore, she created a humorous lifestyle blog. Laurie has been a contributor to Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and Midlife Boulevard. Also, she’s a featured author in the anthology, Feisty After 45, released by Mills Park Publishing. Laurie blogs at A Square of Chocolate.

If I had a nickel for every Twinkie

Laurie OienMrs. Bell was my first grade teacher in 1969 and I remember about a handful of things. I remember reading Dick and Jane books, square dancing in gym class, my crush on Tommy and the unforgettable era with the Twinkie.

I looked forward to lunch time. We’d line up at our classroom door and while clutching my metal Archies lunchbox, I would wiggle in line to get close to Tommy. Somewhere between Dick and Jane stories and doing the dosey doe in gym class, he never noticed my adoration for his 6-year-old baby face and big brown eyes.

I always looked forward to lunch time. Not sure if it was because we were getting a break from Dick and Jane or the anticipation of flipping open the lid of my lunchbox to reveal the goodies inside. Every school day I’d flip open my lunchbox to survey inside a sandwich, some kind of fruit or veggie, milk and a pack of Twinkies.

It all started out pretty exciting. As soon as I saw that twin pack of yellow sponge cake with the cream peeking out of the inside, I knew I had arrived to lunch time euphoria. I didn’t even notice brown-eyed Tommy sitting at the next table.

Every single school day I’d line up at the classroom door for lunch, flash a smile at Tommy and flip the lid to my lunchbox. I was never disappointed. There they were, beaming their golden glow, day after day and lunch after lunch.

It was at the end of the school year that I started to realize that all of Dick and Jane’s adventures were sucking the life right out of me. Not to mention, the dosey doe and my Twinkie lunches were starting to lose their golden charm. Then to make matters worse, I found out Tommy was moving away.

I sulked on the last day of school as I knew it would be my last time smiling at sweet brown-eyed Tommy. I certainly wasn’t going to miss Dick and Jane and I knew it was time to take a break from the Twinkie lunches.

Summer break went by quickly and I started the second grade in Mrs. Johnson’s class. It didn’t take long for me to scan the classroom hoping that Tommy had had a change of plans, but no such luck. It wasn’t until Mrs. Johnson announced that it was lunch time that I felt a switch in my focus. We lined up at the classroom door and with my new Scooby Doo lunchbox in my clutches, I knew this was the best time of the day.

We single-filed down to the cafeteria, and I plopped down at the lunch table anticipating to see those chocolate cupcakes with the white swirly loops on top. I flipped the lid and to my surprise there snuggled behind a bologna sandwich was a pack of…you got it…stinkin’ TWINKIES!

All I could do was sit and stare pitifully into my lunchbox. Honestly, there just may have been a tear forming and a gagging reflex thwarting in the back of my throat.

It didn’t take long for the cafeteria lady with her blonde bouffant hairdo to notice that I had a disturbed look on my face. Her tall thin frame sauntered over to me and she asked, “Sweetie, is there a problem with your lunch?”

“Oh, no,” I sadly responded. “I was just thinking…if I had a nickel for every Twinkie I’ve gotten, maybe I’d have enough to hop a bus outta here to go see Tommy!”

I have NOT had a Twinkie since.

— Laurie Oien is a wife and mother living in Minnesota and determined to uncover the second half of life with zest and zeal. She has a background in marketing and accounting for the last 25 years and recently discovered that one can’t live by adding machines and numbers alone. Therefore, she created a humorous lifestyle blog. Laurie has been a contributor to Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and Midlife Boulevard. She’s also a featured author in the anthology, Feisty After 45, released by Mills Park Publishing. Laurie blogs at A Square of Chocolate.

When life gives you 100 years,
make lemonade

Laurie OienThe familiar saying, of course, is…when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I must say, though, if anyone lives to 100 years and beyond, they most definitely turned their lemons into some awesome lemonade and deserve to celebrate with a nice cool glass of it, as well.

These days we’re living longer and getting the chance to enjoy it fully and positively. I was recently inspired by a story of a 100-year-old woman who teaches exercise class at her senior living community. Now there’s a lady that turned her lemons into lemonade. She expressed that her motto is, “moderation, attitude and gratitude.”

This is a great motto to live by, but additionally, if you’re blessed with good family DNA, it could avoid having your lemon picked before its time.

My family lemon tree has some genuine longevity and I’m banking on my DNA not denying me of my big glass of earned lemonade!

Not long ago, my grandmother celebrated her 96th birthday and, unbelievably, her mother lived to be a wonderful age of 104. See, good DNA! My parents are just kids compared to this, so I’m depending on them being around for a while too! They eat healthy, live a positive lifestyle and definitely turn life’s lemons into lemonade!

This positive attitude doesn’t fall far from the lemon tree, not just with me, but with my kids, as well. In fact, when my daughter was in sixth grade, her class was given a project to write their life story, which included their own obituary. Yes, really, their OWN obit! I thought this was the most unusual project for a sixth grader. If you’ve never read an obituary written in the spirit of a 12-year-old, then let me fill you in.

Her obituary read that she had her own successful designing TV show, which included designing a fabulous dream home. She had three wonderful daughters and married the man of her dreams. This all sounds about right if I were forecasting my perfect life. However, the best part of this obituary was that she held the world record for being the longest living person at 118 years old!

The sunniness doesn’t end there. Of course, not only did she live a long and dreamy 118 years, but she died peacefully in her sleep with a smile on her face! Yes, a SMILE on her face!

Well. I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I’m thinking she must’ve had some pretty fantastic lemonade!

— Laurie Oien

Laurie Oien is a wife and mother living in Minnesota and determined to uncover the second half of life with zest and zeal. She has a background in marketing and accounting for the last 25 years and recently discovered that one can’t live by adding machines and numbers alone. Therefore, she created an easy meal and humor written lifestyle blog. Laurie is a food enthusiast, loves comedy and enjoys writing and creating a story with a humorous twist. Bringing a smile to others might be her true calling. Visit Laurie’s blog, A Square of Chocolate, and join in for a smile at http://www.asquareofchocolate.com/

Reflections of Erma