(This piece originally appeared in the Patriot Ledger on Oct. 22, 2013. Reposted by permission of Suzette Martinez Standring.)
It was a big Vatican-related blooper. What would “Lesus” do? Nobody knows, but Jesus would have spelled his own name correctly. The Italian State Mint issued 6,000 misspelled medals to commemorate Pope Francis’ papal ascension. Oopsie!
On the commemorative coin, the correct Latin phrasing should have been, “Vidit ergo Jesus publicanum et quia miserando antque eligendo vidit, ait illi sequere me.”
Instead it reads (and I’m giving you the English translation): “Lesus, therefore, saw the publican, and because he saw by having mercy and by choosing, He said to him, ‘Follow me.”
I will take Jesus’ lead and have mercy to the person responsible and say, “Come follow me…to the eye doctor.”
At first I thought the “L” was an ancient use of lettering unfamiliar to me. After all, the “U” in Jesus is written as a “V,” which is very common in Latin engravings.
But “L” cannot substitute for “J.” The Roman letter, “L,” symbolizes “fifty.” Fifty-esus? The very sound of it goes from the sacred to the profane, as in “That’ll cost you fifty-esus.” Perhaps some rapper might call himself 50-esus to rival 50-Cent.
It’s handy when mistakes can be melted down, and the Vatican has recalled all of the remaining gold, silver and bronze medals this month.
Make no mistake. I am not on my high horse about the error. I cringe at my own past misspellings, often hastily written. Wrongly spelled names, “open to the pubic,” really, I should know better.
Remember when Chevrolet built the Chevy Nova? They couldn’t understand why it wasn’t selling in South America until they realized that “no va” in Spanish means “no go.”
I got a kick out of reading a list of the worst typos in history. Some errors in judgment were way more expensive than mine.
In my past, I recall an acquaintance who broke up with “Yuko,” and replaced her with a new girlfriend named “Yuki.” A different (slightly embittered) ex of his remarked to me, “He went from monkey to donkey with one letter.”
Well, taking my savior’s lead again, I say, “This, too, shall pass.”
As to the blooper papal medals, the four that were purchased before the major recall will rise in value as rare collector items.
That’s the flip side of the coin. Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.
— Suzette Martinez Standring
Suzette Martinez Standring is the award-winning author of The Art of Column Writing: Insider Secrets from Art Buchwald, Dave Barry, Arianna Huffington, Pete Hamill and Other Great Columnists and the former president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. She writes a national spirituality blog and newspaper columns for GateHouse Media. “My writing goal is bring folks together, think outside the box and laugh at ourselves through the bonds of faith,” she says.
Do you still have your wedding dress?
I do. I never got it together to have it professionally packed and hermetically sealed or whatever it is you are supposed to do with a wedding dress. So, yeah, 14 years later my wedding dress is in one of the bedroom closets. It’s in a hanging bag, which, while a halfhearted effort at preservation, is still an effort. I consider the fact that it’s not stuffed in a Hefty bag with some old towels and stashed in the basement a win.
My daughters came across it not long ago and wanted to try it on. I, of course, obliged. Their small frames were enveloped in the satiny folds, as I pinched the back together and helped them each to the mirror to look at themselves.
And then, excitement shone in their eyes as they cried, “Mommy! You try it on!”
Well. Okay. I could do this. After all, how much could my body have changed after three kids? (I’ll pause while you finish laughing. Um, okay, you can stop now.) I went into my room and closed the door, so I could make a grand “Ta-Da!” entrance. Stepping into the dress, I pulled it up and put the straps over my shoulders. “So far so good,”I thought. “And it still fits in the waist! Yay me!” I said to myself smugly.
And then I reached behind be to pull up the zipper, I got it halfway up and… it stopped.
“Hmmm. It must be jammed,” I thought. I pulled the zipper back down and started over again. Again, I got it halfway up, and it stuck.
It was then I realized that the dress was pulling so tight across my ribcage, and the zipper was gapping so much in the back, that there was no way I was going to get it zipped up.
Had my ribcage expanded? Is this a thing that happens from carrying children? I’m about the same weight I was before I had kids, but just shaped… differently. More like a russet potato. After a couple more fruitless attempts, I realized I wasn’t going to get that zipper to pull up no matter what I tried. But, since denial is my specialty, I had another bright idea.
What if I zipped up the zipper all the way, and then pulled the wedding dress over my head? Ah ha! Surely I could just slip into it, pull it down, and voila! It would be a little tight, but I could certainly handle that for a few minutes. Yes. That was the way to go.
After zipping it all the way up I lifted the heavy garment over my head, and went in headfirst. Layers and layers of fabric cascaded around me as I wiggled my way upward, upward. I stretched my arms toward the armholes. Stretch, reach, wiggle. Almost there.
And then I wasn’t.
The downward progression of my wedding dress had come to an unfortunate halt.
And I was now firmly stuck in it, my head somewhere below the bodice, with my arms pinned straight upwards.
“Um,” I thought. “This… this is a problem.”
I jumped up and down, hoping the momentum would help the dress move downward. No such luck. I was stuck tighter than ever.
Without the use of my arms, which were still pinned upwards, I couldn’t pull the dress the other direction and go back the way I’d come in. I also couldn’t reach the zipper to free myself.
I started to pant inside the heavy lace fabric I was now wedged into, partly because it was becoming warm, but mostly out of rising panic. Did I mention I’m claustrophobic? Fun times.
“Eeerrrggghh! Mmmmmppphhh! Aaaaaggggh!” Hop hop hop. ”Oooooooof!” Arms in the air, I performed moves reminiscent of the inflatable dancing stick man outside of the local muffler shop.
I panted. I sweated, my face mashed against the lining. I pictured my kids bursting into the room to find my lifeless body on the floor, stuck half in and half out of a wedding dress, and clad only in Target brand underpants.
My husband would be widowed. My children would be motherless. “What happened to your mom?” They would be asked. “Oh, it’s a really sad story,” they would reply. “She smothered to death trying to prove she was the same size she was when she was married.” My demise would forever be a moral to a sad tale of vanity gone wrong.
No. I would not allow my children to find me this way. “YOU WILL NOT WIN, YOU HEAR ME?” I shouted, er, gasped, because I’m positive I was dangerously low on oxygen. In mere seconds, I would have been walking toward the light in that damn stupid wedding dress. In a burst of strength and adrenaline, and possibly a split seam or two, I managed to angle one arm just enough to grab the fabric and pull myself free.
Once I recovered from my ordeal, I hung the dress back in the closet. I haven’t gotten it back out since then, but every once in a while I like to walk by it, and whisper threats of stuffing it in a Hefty bag in the basement. You know, just to show it who’s boss.
— Lisa Packer
Lisa Packer is a humor writer, freelance copywriter and blogger. Her blog, Notes from the Shallow End, is a Top Ten finalist for Blogger Idol 2013. She lives with her husband and three children in Cincinnati.
Welcome to the Adolescent Remedial Guidance Home Help Program (A.R.G.H) School of Remedial Learning! We’re glad you’re considering our program. This intense, competency-based curriculum is designed for students who grapple with the obvious tasks in everyday life. Our school fills educational gaps often misunderstood or tuned out during private, individualized home instruction.
Our qualified, experienced instructors help students face the challenges of daily life. Graduates of our programs are better prepared to face the rigors of living in a household shared with family, friends or roommates.
Please read below for our course listing. (Discounts are given upon registration of more than one class. All-day intensives are also available).
Toilet Paper Roll Changing (Course Number: 0244)
Students learn how to execute the basic properties and intricacies of changing a toilet paper roll. Using a multi-sensory approach, students identify an empty roll, locate a new roll, change the roll and dispose of the cardboard tubing.
This is a hands-on course. Students will come away with an understanding of the spring mechanism inherent in a toilet paper holder as well as proper identification of a full and empty roll.
Dish Maneuvering (Course Number: 0232)
This class focuses on the skills needed to maneuver plates, cups and utensils from any location to a dishwasher or drying rack. Students will demonstrate the ability to pick up dishes and transport them safely and efficiently to the sink area and then promptly remove food particles before placing in dishwasher. Emphasis is placed on identifying and avoiding pitfalls common in dish maneuvering, such as leaving dishes in sink without moving to next step. By semester’s end, students will execute the proper operations in the correct order. (Extra consideration will be given for ability to load dishwasher or drying rack with maximum efficiency.)
*Note: This course is a prerequisite for “Emptying Dishwasher (Course Number: 0242).”
Towel Hanging (Course Number: 0254)
In this inquiry-based, multidisciplinary course, students gain hands-on experience hanging wet towels, and learn a variety of options for towel hangers, such as bars, racks and hooks. Discussions will include inherent problems with using the backs of chairs and the floor as towel holders. Instructors will cultivate the students’ ability to recognize when a towel needs to be washed. Homework includes identifying appropriate towel hangers within the home.
*Prerequisites: a basic grasp of the properties of gravity, a rudimentary understanding of mold and mildew propagation and a working knowledge of personal hygiene.
Removing Toothpaste From Sink Area (Course Number: 0264)?
One of our most deceptively challenging courses. Curriculum is specifically designed for those students who believe they have already mastered the challenges inherent in rinsing toothpaste off the sink. The instructor will guide students through the necessary and imperative steps to ensure that all toothpaste and toothpaste foam is successfully rinsed down the drain.
This course also covers the necessary steps to replace the lid on a tube of toothpaste. Extra consideration will be given to students who can maximize efficiency when squeezing out toothpaste.
*Note: This class does not delve into the properties of basic oral hygiene, focusing instead on the environment surrounding the action.
Undressing Effectively (Course Number: 0322)
This course will critically analyze the relationship between clothes-wearer and clothes-washer. Students will learn the finer art of removing clothes without inverting items and how to keep clothing separated. Students will focus on successfully removing a pair of pants with neither socks nor underwear balled up inside and will learn to take off shirts, sweaters, pants, socks and other articles of clothing properly and efficiently. Emphasis is placed on correctly identifying inside-out and right-side out. Extra credit will be given to students who can correctly identify the difference between the space just outside a dirty clothes receptacle and the space inside said receptacle.
Note: Please come fully clothed to all sessions. This is a G-rated course and no nudity will be permitted.
Folded Clothes (Course Number: 0328)
This advanced-level class builds on the concepts and skills covered in “Undressing Effectively (Course Number: 0322)” with an emphasis on mastering the delicate act of moving clean, folded clothes into dresser drawers or onto hangers in closets. An accelerated version of this course guides students in the finer art of searching through a drawer without unfolding the items contained within. Emphasis is on speed and skill of maneuvering without disrupting.
Don’t see what you’re looking for? Classes are being developed regularly. For a complete listing of courses as well as those being considered, please email us at email@example.com.
— Laura Amann
Laura Amann is a freelance writer and editor who mothers a brood of four in the Chicago area. Her award-winning essays have also appeared in Salon, the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Parent. This essay originally appeared in Brain, Child.
(Reposted by permission of Tracy Beckerman. This piece originally appeared in The Huffington Post on Oct. 18, 2013.)
Dear Jezebel and Medusa,
I thought it was time I wrote you, my dear ovaries, a letter. Word on the street has it that you are not happy about the fact that you are still in business.
I don’t blame you. You’ve been doing the whole egg release thing since I was 12. I’d be bored if I had the same job for 37 years, too. But rather than just pack up and close shop like most middle-aged ovaries would do, you just keep on truckin’ on. And then every month you make a big stink about the fact that you’re overworked and underappreciated.
Really ovaries, really?
Recently you even enlisted the help of Ursula, my uterus. Now all three of you are protesting each month.
Is this my fault? No! I was perfectly okay with the idea that you could go into retirement at this point in my life. My kids are teens. Older teens. As far as I’m concerned, the kitchen is closed. There will be no more buns in the oven. I actually think there is a design flaw here. I think once I made the decision I was done having kids, you all could have just shut down production. Closed the plant. Moved to a senior community in Florida or whatever it is that retired ovaries do during their golden years. Yeah, I get that there are some important hormones that you make that keep my bones strong and my mood stable. But clearly that last part isn’t working so well anyway.
I don’t mean to sound like an ingrate, because you ladies have served me well over the years. You (along with my husband) are responsible for the two greatest joys in my life. Of course I could have done without the 36 hours of labor for the first kid, but I don’t think that was your fault. Then there was that cyst on Jezebel that hurt so bad I wanted to punch Bill O’Reilly. (I actually wanted to do that anyway and was just looking for a reason, so thanks for that). But overall, you two have been pretty awesome.
But lately, you’ve been showing your mean side. Awful cramps. Erratic schedules. Bloating. Seriously, I get that you’re unhappy, but do we really need all the drama?
Get with your ovary union. Tell me your demands. I’m sure we can reach a settlement.
This country was built on cooperation and compromise. Just ask the federal government! On second thought, scratch that.
I think we all know it’s time for a change. Do you really want to be the oldest functioning ovaries on the block? There is a great deal of honor in quitting at the top of your game. I, personally, would be happy to give you an award for your years of service. You have functioned ovary and above the call of duty.
I was told that this time in our lives is called Peri-menopause. I’m not sure who this Peri chick is, but I don’t think she was invited to the party. Let’s work together to kick her out of the sorority and let Menopause hang out with us. I actually think she’d be a lot more fun…
With warmest regards,
— Tracy Beckerman
Tracy Beckerman writes the syndicated humor column and blog, “Lost in Suburbia,” which is carried by more than 400 newspapers in 25 states and on 250 websites to approximately 10 million readers. She’s also the author of Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir and Rebel Without a Minivan: Observations on Life in the ‘Burbs. She has served on the faculty of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.
(Reposted by permission of author Gina Barreca. This piece originally appeared in the Hartford Courant on Oct. 17, 2013.)
With Halloween trying to sneak up on us, it’s time to look without fear at the differences between what makes men scary and what makes women scary.
For example, your male villain in a horror movie must have third-degree peeling burns and open sores over most of his body; that’s a given. It’s a plus if he’s wearing gloves with knives on the fingertips, like Freddy Krueger from “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” If he has bad breath and a low credit score, even better.
Or else he can choose the ever popular wearing of his victims’ skin over his own, as do those curiously bespoke tailors from either “The Silence of the Lambs” or “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
And if a screen villain really wants to make a lasting impression and seriously embrace a truly effective horribleness, he can have nails driven into his skull like the central figure from “Hellraiser.” He’s made piercing into a whole new kind of art form.
OK, so now let’s compare this to what female characters must do to be wildly frightening to the average male viewer.
In contrast to oozing sores, flayed bodies and nails in the skull, what did Charlize Theron need to do to play a so memorably, mortally gruesome a villainess and murderess that she won an Oscar for the role?
What Theron needed to do in “Monster” was gain a little weight and not do her hair properly.
What had men pants-wettingly terrified about the film was not that Theron played one of the few serial killers who systematically murdered male victims: It was, instead, that dazzlingly gorgeous Charlize Theron could look bad simply by installing prosthetic teeth and doing weird stuff with her eyebrows.
Female characters, you see, don’t have to be preternaturally disfigured or animal-alien-human-hybrids; all they need to do is smear their eye makeup and get lipstick on their teeth.
Actually, they don’t even need to do that: they need to cry, yell and make a scene.
At this moment in our culture, it’s not Carrie from Stephen Kingwho scares, but Carrie from “Homeland.”
CIA operative (retired) Carrie from “Homeland” is creepier because she’s way more out of control than Carrie-the-pig-blood-prom-queen. “Homeland’s” Carrie has fallen from a more powerful position and she has access to the secrets, not of high schoolers, but of nations. Frankly, the last thing she is worried about is getting her period.
And while we’re speaking of Stephen King, it’s not Kathy Bates from “Misery” who really made the men of America flee in fear from multiplexes; it’s Kathy Bates from “About Schmidt” who did that.
All Kathy Bates had to do in “About Schmidt” was get into the hot tub naked. All she had to do was reveal a bouncy woman’s body.
Hobbling James Caan with an axe when acting as his nurse in “Misery” apparently absolutely pales in comparison to her lack of shame in “About Schmidt,” even though, as many of us recall, Jack Nicholson himself was not exactly a body double for, say, Alexander Skarsgard.
It’s tricky for a female character to play a horror-queen role on the screen because, as one of my male friends put it, the phrase “scary woman is redundant.” Our super villains, like our superheroes, remain a masculine prototype of a very certain type: they are unmarried and tend not to have deeply complex dating lives even when they are given complicated emotional back stories.
Sure, Superman had “issues” concerning his family of origin, but Lois Lane was never much more than a nag in his life. Batman had to deal with loss and grief, but Catwoman was basically on a quest for a litter box of one’s own.
How about Wonder Woman? One look and you knew exactly what everybody was wondering: “Are they real?”
So in celebration of the season, here are movies so chilling to everyman that they will send your guy into a panic the moment you hit “play”:
2. “The First Wives Club”
3. “Little Women”
5. “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”
6. “A Walk to Remember”
7. “Notting Hill”
8. “27 Dresses”
9. “Thelma and Louise”
10. Tie: Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre — any adaptation, any director, any time period.
— Gina Barreca
Gina Barreca is an English professor at the University of Connecticut and a feminist scholar who has written eight books. She regularly writes columns for the Hartford Courant, The Huffington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Psychology Today. In 2012, she served as a keynoter at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. Learn more about Gina here.
I have a confession to make.
I am a serial TV addict — I am addicted to watching the serials on my Netflix TV.
How did this become a problem? How did I decide this was even a problem at all? I mean why all the self-judgment? Why am I coming down so hard on myself about my love of watching TV series after series? Plenty of my friends do it. Mykids do it. Can’t I think of it as just fun, a passion, a simple pleasure, a ritual my husband and I share before bedtime? How come I can’t just leave it at that?
Well, I am writing this confession at 6:30 a.m. after very little sleep. Last night I snuck in two extra episodes of Breaking Bad as my husband snored. We were watching the first episode of season two together at 11p.m., in bed, on the laptop, and he fell asleep. I kept going, I couldn’t stop watching — it was 1:30 a.m. before I passed out and slid my laptop gently to the floor. And, when I awoke, he was still sleeping as I grabbed my laptop and headed down to the kitchen for another dose, another episode.
All this time I thought this was a simple pleasure. The first time we learned how to download a TV series was five years ago. We were on vacation with our kids and they turned us onto Hulu and Amazon Prime and live streaming. We were thrilled that we could bring our laptop into bed and watch a movie or a TV series while cozily tucked in together. We became instantly technologically proficient and proud of it. A ritual was born.
Watching season after season of Grey’s Anatomy on vacation, in bed, with my man, was romantic and fun.
Even though we had missed entire seasons of great TV shows — no worries — we had moved beyond DVR’ing shows, we were now live streamers! As long as we had Internet access, we were golden. We had our entertainment at our fingertips. Very rarely were we without access and as long as the supply of new series was available, we were good.
Things started to change last year with Homeland and got dramatically worse with House of Cards. Breaking Bad has been the tipping point downward when Walter White (Brian Cranston), his meth cooking addiction and his moneymaking addiction have become my watching addiction.
Thankfully, my husband and I didn’t know about Homeland until season two. We love learning about great shows late in the game because then there is no waiting for the next episode. Boom — live stream it — Yes! Watching episode after episode late into the night made us both too adrenalized for sleep so — Bang — just one more episode before lights out. My husband and I marathoned it into the wee hours until the season’s end. Content, exhausted and full of speculative chatter about what would be next, we hungrily looked for another show.
And this was pivotal — we were visiting my partner at betterafter50.com and her husband at their vacation condo in New Hampshire. Lovely day of cross country skiing, dinner and wine when they started talking about this amazing show they had watched on Netflix — House of Cards. They happily re-watched the first episode with us and went to bed.
We, however, did not go to bed; we lay on their couch for two more episodes and finally dragged ourselves to sleep at 2 a.m. The next morning as they were packing up to leave (they were heading back early to Boston), we asked them if they would mind if we hung out a little longer and closed up after ourselves. No problem. So, we made ourselves a little breakfast and hunkered down back on the couch. We watched a few more episodes, went out to take a walk and went back to the couch. Around early evening, we called them and asked if they minded if we slept there one more night (we weren’t done watching). They understood. Really! We actually invited ourselves into our friends’ home, onto their couch because we couldn’t pull ourselves away from House of Cards until it was too late to drive back. OMG!
And now Breaking Bad’s meth-addicted theme has become my addiction reality.
This beloved recreational passion, this hobby, this lovely pleasure has developed into a real problem. I had no idea that this simple pleasure would interfere with my day-to-day functioning but in fact, its tentacles have woven their way into my ability to get my work done and have affected my sleep. My relationship with my husband has shifted because this activity has now become my number one bedfellow. The time I spend in this activity has overtaken my ability to do the other things I so love in my life like reading, getting out of the house early for walks and early-morning writing.
My confession is now complete. I am aware of the problem; however, I am not ready to change my behavior. But, I am admittedly a tad concerned that once I run through every episode of Breaking Bad, what’s next? Got some ideas?
P.S. If you’re looking to tuck in and hunker down with some great shows to watch, here are a few of my favorites. But try to pace yourselves!
— Felice Shapiro
Felice Shapiro is a writer, entrepreneur and publisher. In November 2011, she founded Betterafter50.com (BA50), an online platform with a readership doubling itself almost every month. Shapiro has published work from hundreds of writers — in all, more than 1,000 articles on topics of health, sex, start-ups, dating, adult children, aging parents, finance and more. She also teaches entrepreneurship at Tufts University.
I’ve had more than my share of fashion faux pas. I’m the one who went to the bathroom before my court appearance and came back and pled the case for my client with my suit skirt tucked up into my panty hose.
At my own engagement party, my future mother-in-law’s friend wore the same dress as I did. When someone recently admired my shoes and asked me whose they were, I answered, “mine, who else’s would they be?” I often can’t seem to get out of my gym clothes to shower until late afternoon, and now that I own loungewear from Mariwear, I am hard pressed to get dressed at all.
I don’t claim to be a fashion expert — I’m just your typical midlife woman who likes to be comfortable and look somewhat put together — when it matters. I like what I like, and I know what pisses me off. And so, it seems, do other women over 50. I asked my contemporaries what they hated about fashion, and boy, did they let loose. Check this out. Did I miss something?
1. We hate catalogues that have 26-year-old Skinny Minnies modeling clothes geared for the 50 and over woman. Have you seen the recent Spanx catalogue?
2. We hate low-cut jeans. We do not need to show our plumber’s crack when we sit to eat our frozen yogurt and watch Breaking Bad.
3. We could write a book on underwear — how much we hate it. We hate that we can’t seem to find good, reasonably priced underwear. We don’t want thongs, we don’t want to be picking at our oversized tuchases. We want to be covering both cheeks, thank you. We don’t want tight elastics so that our fat hangs over, we don’t want Granny panties, we do want something sexy, and we don’t want to pay $32 for a single pair (a la Hanky Panky).
4. We hate that there is no gray hair dye that helps you go from anything to natural gray. WTF? They can put a man on the moon, but not make a gray hair dye?
5. We hate that unless you are really, really tall, pants always need to be shortened and we have to pay extra for hemming.
6. We hate handbags that are heavy even when nothing is in them.
7. We hate that “they” lie about needing to dry clean everything.
8. We hate heavy earrings that do not come with earlobe supporters and cause our aging earlobes to sag.
9. We hate our friends when they ask us how much a recent purchase cost, as in, “That’s a pretty blouse, how much did you pay for it?”
10. We hate when we show up to a party in the same dress as another lady and they don’t laugh it off — but make a federal case of it.
11. We hate “fat” mirrors and bad lighting that emphasize even the smallest of thigh dimples.
12. We hate trying on skinny jeans in small dressing rooms — attempting to get the jeans over the muffin top while simultaneously having a hot flash.
13. We hate that there is no such thing as size any more.
14. We hate that there is no such thing as customer service any more.
15. We hate that we can never please our moms, no matter what we are wearing.
16. We hate that we are never happy with what our daughters are wearing.
17. We hate that fashion seems like it is only for tall, skinny women.
18. We hate that high fashion is often not comfortable or wearable.
19. We hate that fashion is too focused on youthful body types and not celebrating our beautiful, aging, fit bodies.
20. We hate bra shopping. We always have.
21. We hate sleeveless dresses — don’t they know we care about our “bat wings?”22. We hate “See Through” purses (actually, we hate “see through” anything.)
23. We hate harem pants.
24. We hate neon anything.
25. We hate cheap fabrics (especially with expensive price tags.)
26. We hate anything that could be worn by a stripper (see #27 below)
27. We hate thigh-high boots.
28. We hate that the “new” fad is almost exactly the same as the clothes we had been saving for the past 10 years, hoping they would come back into style — except the “new” look is just different enough to make you look like you’re wearing 10-year-old clothes.
29. We hate really old ladies in ultra-high heels who look like they are about to fall and break a hip.
30. We hate that fashion is a luxury for the 1%.
31. We hate that hammer pants will never come back into vogue. NB: I hate that I had no idea what hammer pants were until I looked them up on the Web (and I agree with #23, now that I’ve looked.)
32. We hate swimwear designers who don’t get that if they are selling a “D” cup top (hard enough to find), that it does not need padding, but it does require support. We hate that we have to go up an extra size when buying swimwear.
33. We hate camisoles with “built in” bras that have no support and don’t fit anyone with a bigger breast than a size B.
34. We hate that you can’t find a Diane von Furstenberg dress at Bendels in New York City that’s over a size 10. Do they not know that the average woman is a size 12 or 14?
35. We hate that it is really difficult to find a dress that hides our midlife knees.
36. We hate that we are always at war with mother nature, trying to cover what is happening to our bodies naturally.
37. We hate that we can never keep up — we always seem to be about two years behind the latest fashion trend.
38. We hate when we find clothes in our closets with the tags still intact.
39. We hate group dressing rooms. We hate them a lot. We hate them with a passion.
40. We hate “friends” who tell you that you look fantastic when you know very well you have gained 10 pounds, haven’t done your hair, and you have no makeup on.
41. We hate those stupid little belts and ribbons they include with dresses.
42. We hate those tight skirts that almost no one over 50 can wear.
43. We hate shoes with the bondage look.
44. We hate ballet slipper shoes with stupid little bows on top.
45. We hate dresses that are tight around the hips and sag at the boobs.
46. We hate (and love) all the absolutely, really beautiful shoes that give no consideration to comfort.
47. We hate that “they” seem to be skimping on fabric.
48. We hate yoga pants that show your camel toe.
49. We hate lipstick on our teeth.
50. We hate that no matter how many clothes hang in our closet, we seem to have nothing to wear. And that has been true for decades.
— Ronna Benjamin
About the time Ronna Benjamin turned 50, she had an epiphany. After 28 years , she realized she couldn’t stand being a real estate attorney for even one more minute (can you imagine?). She jumped into the world of writing as her “encore” career and never looked back. Ronna teamed up with Better After 50 founder Felice Shapiro, and soon became a partner, managing editor and weekly humor columnist for BA50. She writes about the things BA50s are concerned about: adult children, aging parents, illness, anxiety and insomnia, to name a few. She is a native Bostonian and loves to spend time with her wonderful husband and three adult children. She also loves to cook, sail, ski, run and bike, and she is always on the look out for the next great diet.
Groucho Marx quipped, “A man is only as old as the woman he feels.” I suspect this is why my older brother married a woman 16 years his junior. I still haven’t made up my mind on whether I should admire or resent him for that. There are simply days when I would like to feel a bit younger.
I thought about this matter a week ago while getting a haircut. I have an unspoken agreement with the stylist who cuts my hair: the day my hair thins out enough to consider a comb-over, she’ll shave my head bald to spare me the embarrassment.
It was there that I also learned that I’d missed another benchmark of growing old: the eyebrow trim. Seriously, at 45 years of age, I got an eyebrow trim. I didn’t ask for it, didn’t consider it, but I guess I needed it. And suddenly I felt my old rocking chair call to me like the morning’s first cup of coffee.
As a younger man, I recall seeing the “old guys” who desperately needed eyebrow trims. I thought of myself having the wit of Groucho Marx as my years advanced but certainly not his bushy eyebrows. I’d come to accept that running 20 miles a week no longer kept my waistline in check, but having hair growth move from my scalp to destinations it had never been before was not on my bucket-list.
It’s not just the hair migration that serves as a yardstick of aging, but also visits to the doctor. A 50-year-old coworker of mine tells the story of going to the doctor for a terrible head cold. The doctor insisted on a blood work-up, and he conceded. But when the doctor also recommended a colonoscopy, the line was drawn. Apparently when you get to a certain age, a head cold also means a butt cold in the medical community. Doctors give out colonoscopies to 50-year-olds the way drive-through bank tellers distribute candy to children.
Even the unassuming checkout stands of the local grocery are subject to the laws of aging. My brother Jeff went to the store to buy a few groceries for his family. Nothing much, just enough to keep within the Express Lane limit. After the young man at the register rang him up, he gave my brother the total amount due and then added, “And I applied your senior discount, sir.” Jeff was about to protest when he suddenly caught himself and asked, “How much is that discount, son?” Upon learning the amount, he kept his protest to himself. “Five bucks is five bucks,” he concluded. It would seem that, the older we get, the more we do become our fathers.
Similarly, a lifelong friend of the family tells the story of his amusement in getting an AARP application in the mail the week before he turned 50. His wife gave him a good ribbing for that. But she found it far less amusing when she received her application in the mail when she turned 40. He enjoyed a good laugh over it until she gave him that “look.” Women, it seems, don’t acknowledge their age, and we men make it a point to never act ours.
My brother Mike, who turned 50 last year, is clearly doing his best to stay young in appearance. He claims his success is attributed to exercise, weight lifting and eating loads of fiber. He went into great detail about his regimental diet of oat bran, flax seed, omega-3 fatty acids, yogurt and bacterial cultures, and the resulting low cholesterol. It’s quite possible he’s going to live to be 100… but, under those circumstances, who would really want to?
And on that note, I’m going out to the backyard for a cigar. There are those like my brother Mike who would certainly frown on such behavior, but I’m a believer that it’s the life in your years that count, not the reverse. And though I seem destined to wind up with the eyebrows of Groucho Marx, I’m thinking that I just may live as long — but more importantly as full a life — as George Burns.
— Doug Clough
Doug Clough writes a column for the Ida County Courier in Ida Grove, Iowa, called “From our backyard…” His work has appeared in Farm News, The Iowan and Boating World, and he served as a travel scout for Midwest Living. “I am a father of a salad bowl family (aka ‘blended’), a customer service manager, the possession of my Labradoodle and — in a former life — an English teacher. Someone has to enjoy that mix; it may as well be me,” he says.