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How I turned down Brad Pitt

Once, about 20 years ago, I turned down a night with Brad Pitt.

It unfurled just before I was married, before he became a producer, aged backwards as Benjamin Button, or showed us his butt in Troy. Before a word like “Brangelina” made any sense.

Although my memory is foggy on the exact words, it went something like this:

My Roommate: “Wanna go bowling? We’re going with Brad Pitt.”

Me: “What?”

My Roommate: “Brad Pitt. The guy from Thelma and Louise.”

Me: “You’re serious?”

My Roommate: “Dead serious. My sister met him at a club last night. He wants her to bring friends.”

Me: “I can’t bowl!”

My Roommate: “Don’t worry, he’ll like you. Best thing is, if you run out of stuff to say, you can just stand there and look at him. I’m sure he’s used to it.”

And what would a middle aged woman, as I am now, 20 years on, do if in such a position? Would she run in for a bit of quick Botox? Get a pedicure? Would she spend hours trying on the coolest designer Manolo Blahnik bowling shoes (surely this product must exist, for exactly these moments)?

Here is one thing a middle-aged woman would not do: she would not say no.

She would not say “no” to going bowling with this man, under any circumstances. If her child were graduating from high school, she’d hand her husband a video camera and say, “Tell her I wish I could be there. Get me some video. I’ll be back by midnight.”

If her beloved dog of 10 years has just died, she’d say, “Put that thing on ice until tomorrow…I have some pins to take down!”

But, since I was only 23 and didn’t have the wisdom of age, I said: no.

I had just met my husband-to-be, Tim. I loved him, and still do. I loved him more than Italian sausage pizza, more than crème brulee. I had more feelings for him than Brad Pitt had muscle packed into his derriere, which is saying a lot.

But these thoughts still ran through my mind:

What if I’m hanging around with all these A-List celebrities and lose my anonymity? Could I still go to WalMart undetected by paparazzi?

What if Brad decides I’m the perfect leading lady to star in his next film, and I need to move to L.A., away from Tim?

Of course there was the best of all, the question still conjured up purposefully at times when I need a laugh:

What if Brad falls for me, and I have to choose between Tim and Brad?

These are the thoughts of someone who is 23. At 23, we’re romantics. We still believe the endings of movies. We have big, watery eyes. If you could somehow draw a picture of our souls, the portrait would have eyes like characters in Japanese anime — huge, reflective, dual abysses that reach deep inside, but see only possibilities and never ghosts. Back then, there was one thing we definitely would have all believed in: the notion that a People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive could somehow cause us a dilemma.

A married 45-year-old does not have such thoughts. Here’s what she thinks:

He’s rich…maybe he can pay for my bowling.

Or, more than likely,

Damn, it’ll piss Tim off if I go bowling with the sexiest man alive. I’M THERE!

And that’s the extent of it. We of middle age have been around the block a few times. We know nothing unusual would happen.

Even though she still might have the last minute Botox, the middle-aged woman has seen enough to know that talk of French fries and bowling form would be the likely conversations. Why? Because despite what you may think, this is what people talk about when bowling, even people with rock hard abdomens.

Gals who have crossed the zenith of that “over-the-hill” hill accept that our bowling companion may be A-List, but we already have the real sexiest men alive.

The really sexy ones are waiting for us at home. They’re sitting on our couches, grinning like boys because they secretly took the remote control when we got up to pee. They’re the ones cutting the grass, sweaty bellies sticking out from under yellowed T-shirts.

The real sexiest men alive are snoring in front of the TV, tired from working to pay for the dream house and college fund. Their feet are up, propped on top of our stack of women’s magazines featuring photos of a certain Mr. Pitt. They’re tired from loving us so hard.

They love to look at us despite our saddlebags and gray hairs. They stand by us. They don’t duck out after a quick game. They stick around, always letting us choose which restaurant we’ll go to, which video we’ll watch. They rarely comment on our form. They build something with us every day, something worthwhile, and, in some instances, everlasting. And we know that nobody in a bowling shirt with “Brad” embroidered on it could ever have an effect on any of that.

So we middle-aged ladies, we’re unafraid. We go bowling. We stare at the abs, unashamed, with absolute glee.

— Kara Martinez Bachmann

This essay is a shortened/adapted excerpt from Kara Martinez Bachmann’s essay collection Kissing the Crisis: Field Notes on Foul-Mouthed Babies, Disenchanted Women, and Careening into Middle Age. Her work has also been heard on NPR radio and has appeared in dozens of publications, including The Writer, Funny Times and the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Find out more at Karamartinezbachman.com.

Balance

In the photo, the beautiful, young woman is doing a headstand on the beach, her legs arranged like the wings of a mythical bird. In my mind’s eye, I see myself there, hands in the sand, seeing the world upside down and being at total peace.

So in order to get my real world to jibe with my cracked internal version of reality, I went to a yoga class today. It was the first time in 40 years.

They weren’t doing the headstand that I saw in the photo, but close.

There was a throng of people at the community center, like spring break on a Florida beach. They sat on their yoga mats peeling off their socks. “Am I not supposed to wear socks?” I had hiking socks on, nice and warm, but right away, I saw that they were shedding big pills of wool the way socks will when they’re old. I plucked one pill off and tucked it under my purple mat while the woman on one side stared straight ahead as if already dosed for the day and the woman on the other, perfectly attired in J. Yogi, remarked to me that the Monday class had even more people in it. Grateful for that small break, I arranged myself and waited.

As usual in a class involving physical things, I looked for the weakest link — the crummiest swimmer, the slowest cyclist, the walker wearing an orthopedic boot. The weakest link is my baseline, the person that I will always be better than. It’s an evil little way to think, but I invite no correction. Anyway, as it happens and as you might suspect, I quickly discover that it is me, in fact, who is the weakest link since I a) have no clue what I’m doing and b) cannot hear the little wee teacher whose voice is remarkably similar to the Tiny Tears doll I had when I was six.

Right away, we were all kneeling with our faces on our mats and arms outstretched. “How long are we supposed to do this?” I looked left and then right. Everyone face down. I pressed my forehead into the mat to take my mind off the pain in my thighs. Right away, I thought about the book I read written by a woman hostage in the Middle East who, when in a terrible situation (of which there were hundreds but she did survive), would ask herself, “Are you okay right now, in this moment?” And when she answered yes, she would just go to the next moment. So I tried that approach, but it didn’t work as well for me.

Grinding my face in the mat made my glasses all blurry. “Isn’t anyone else wearing glasses?” I couldn’t tell without standing up and doing an inventory. The other yogis seemed so intact and fit, probably all with 20/20 vision, uncorrected. Or wearing contacts, probably ones that made their eyes extra blue.

We did the thing where you form an upside down V and then you walk up to where your hands are and hang there until you pass out. My T-shirt came up to my mouth while I was hanging upside down and I wondered if my belly was showing. I’d purposely worn my longest black t-shirt but I could feel it riding up, or down as the case may be, along with my bra. I was already sweating. My hands were slipping ever so slightly but I stayed focused on my wool socks, considering new pills to pull off when we were allowed to stand up again. I can do this, I thought, I am okay right now, in this moment.

We did a lot of other things that were unpleasant and then briefly lovely like the warrior pose. I think if all of yoga was the warrior pose, I’d be fine with it. When we were doing the warrior pose, though, the tiny instructor came up behind me and patted the backs of my knees. “Bend your legs just slightly.” I did and it made my legs shake. But stretching out my arms was glorious and triumphant, worth the price of admission as they say. And then she told us to lie down.

Now we were all face down with our arms out in front of us like postulants taking our final vows. I wondered how long we were to lie like this, though it seemed like rest, naptime at kindergarten, or it would have if I’d had a small pillow. I felt like I’d earned this repose until I saw out of the corner of my eye that I was supposed to be raising my head and then my feet, actions that seemed almost preposterous given what we’d already done.

There was no end to it, the world’s longest hour in this sweaty room with these mouth-breathing people. Exhale! Then I saw the perfectly attired woman next to me putting on her socks and rolling up her mat and I took that as permission to leave, which I did, tiptoeing over people deep in their serenity. I acted like I had an appointment, somewhere important I needed to go in my big black T-shirt and hiking socks.

I wondered if I would ever come back. I texted my husband from the parking lot.

“Yoga was hideous. I have to take to my bed.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Oh God, so hard. I almost threw up.”

I could skip out, not come back next week or ever. No one would notice, only me. But then there’s the beach and the headstand, my inner self. What to do with her?

 — Jan Wilberg

Jan Wilberg writes about everything from national politics to outwitting rats in the basement with the help of her two sons. She is a mother, grandmother and a formerly hearing impaired person rejoicing in the miracle of her new cochlear implant. Her blog Red’s Wrap has a tagline that says it all: Happiness. It’s relative.

Papa had another stone

It may come as a shock to you that I can’t get pregnant. The reason, of course, is that I am too old. But that did not stop a doctor from sending me for a sonogram.

This procedure, which is often performed on pregnant women, was done on me recently, not because I was expecting a baby, unlikely since I am still infantile myself, but because I had a kidney stone.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t my first. It was my fifth. Or sixth. I have lost count, mostly under the influence of painkilling drugs, but I do know that I am a human quarry who manufactures these things at an alarming rate. If I could outsource this manufacturing to another person, I would. But I can’t, so I continue to have kidney stones.

The first time I had one, a nurse told me it was the male equivalent of childbirth. I told her that at least I wouldn’t have to put the stone through college.

This time, my urologist, Dr. Albert Kim, who has a practice in the appropriately named New York hamlet of Stony Brook, ordered a sonogram because I’d already had enough X-rays from my previous kidney stones to glow in the dark, which at least would reduce my electric bills.

When I arrived at Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology, I spoke with Amy, one of the nice people who work at the front desk.

“I’ve been here so often that I should have my own parking space,” I told her.

“Even I can’t get one,” Amy said with a smile. Then she handed me paperwork whose sheer volume rivaled that of “War and Peace” and asked me to fill it out.

“I’ve had to do this so many times that my right hand should be X-rayed,” I said.

Amy nodded sympathetically and replied, “You can keep the pen.”

Then I was called in by a nice technologist named Erin, who asked if I had been drinking.

“No,” I replied, “but I could go for a beer.”

“I mean water,” Erin said. “You have to have at least 24 ounces before we can do a sonogram.”

“I had a bottle on the way over,” I told her.

“Good,” said Erin, who asked me to lift my shirt so she could rub some jelly on my belly and watch it on the telly.

“Am I pregnant?” I asked.

“Sorry,” she responded, “but no.”

“Do you see my kidney stone?” I wondered.

“I’m not a doctor,” Erin explained, “so I’m not allowed to say.”

But she did say that a report would be sent to Dr. Kim, with whom I had an appointment the next day. That evening, however, someone from the radiology center called me at home to say I had to come back because part of the sonogram was blurred.

The next morning, I returned for another one. While I was waiting, I had a kidney stone attack. Fortunately, it was no worse than having hot tar injected into my right side. When the pain subsided, I had a second sonogram and then went to see Dr. Kim, who said the stone was probably dropping and that this, too, shall pass.

Sure enough, at home later that afternoon, it did. Dr. Kim ordered an X-ray, which I tried to avoid in the first place.

I had one a couple of days later from another nice technologist named Jenn, who said I could keep the blue paper pants I had to wear for the procedure. She also gave me a copy of the X-ray, which I had to bring to Dr. Kim a few days later.

I also brought him the stone, which looked to be the size of a bocce ball but was actually, according to Dr. Kim, five or six millimeters.

“It’s fairly big,” he said. “Did you have a tough time passing it?”

“It wasn’t pleasant, but it could have been worse,” I replied. “At least I didn’t have a baby.”

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima, who served on the faculty at the 2010 EBWW, writes a humor column for the Stamford Advocate that is nationally syndicated through the Tribune News Service and regularly appears in the Huffington Post. He’s written three books, Grandfather Knows BestLeave it to Boomer and The Empty Nest Chronicles. He has won six humor-writing awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and was named EBWW’s Humor Writer of the Month twice. He is the past president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

No joke: Dave Barry to serve as finalist judge in Bombeck Writing Competition

Want a shot at having your humorous musings judged by someone who’s a master at writing funny?

Pulitizer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry will serve as the finalist judge in the humor writing category of the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition, according to Debe Dockins, coordinator of the competition at the Washington-Centerville Public Library.

“Inviting writers to judge the Erma contest has become a science for me — who can turn a phrase just so? Does this judge’s writing style remind me of Erma? Is it funny, is it kind?” Dockins said. “I spend a lot of time reading humor and short stories and, over the years, Dave Barry has been sitting at the top of my Wish List for Judges (yes, I really have one).

“I am so excited for the contest, very honored for the opportunity to work with Dave Barry and thrilled for the writers whose essays will make it to the final round,” she said.

Barry has written more than 30 books, including the novels Big Trouble, Lunatics, Tricky Business and, most recently, Insane City. He has also written a number of books with titles like Best. State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland, which, he quips, “are technically classified as nonfiction, although they contain numerous lies.” In 2006, he served as the opening night keynote speaker at the University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

The writing competition, held every two years in conjunction with the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, pays tribute to hometown writer Erma Bombeck, one of the greatest humorists of the 20th century. The next contest opens Dec. 4, with previously unpublished 450-word entries in humor and human interest categories accepted until Jan. 8.

Four winners will receive $500 and a free registration to the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, slated for April 5-7, 2018.

In 2016, 563 writers from around the world entered essays — roughly 253,350 words.

Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, and Daryn Kagan, syndicated columnist and former CNN anchor, served as the finalist judges for the humor and human interest categories, respectively. The nearly 50 preliminary judges included nationally known authors, columnists, screenwriters, stand-up comedians and a longtime writer for David Letterman.

— Teri Rizvi

Teri Rizvi is the founder of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the University of Dayton, where she serves as executive director of strategic communications. (Photo credit: Daniel Portnoy Photography)

Surviving Valentine’s Day

According to a recent survey on Valentine’s Day shopping habits, men spend twice as much money buying Valentine’s Day gifts than women do, but men get their shopping in one-third the time. That says two things about the difference between men and women.

It says guys have a keen desire to express their commitment to the relationship based on buying hugely overpriced chocolates because they come in heart-shaped, red boxes that can be bought anywhere in under two minutes.

Women, on the other hand, want to find the perfect gift and card that expresses their love. Time is no object for women. They’ll take all day to find the perfect Valentine’s Day surprise, even while their special fellow is sitting out in the car wondering what’s taking her so long.

Easy shopping

For guys, Valentine’s Day is an easier shopping experience than selecting Christmas gifts. Christmas you got a mall of stuff to chose from. Valentine’s Day you have candy, cards, flowers and expensive jewelry. A guy can get all his shopping done in five minutes with a Visa card.

Unlike Christmas shopping where everything gets cheaper the closer it gets to Dec. 25, Valentine’s Day gifts stay expensive up to the big day. That’s because guys usually forget Valentine’s Day is coming despite the barrage of Valentine’s Day ads that say, “Valentine’s Day is coming. It’s almost here. Buy something now. Oops, too late.”

Stores understand this, so that’s why Valentine costs don’t drop until after the holiday.

It’s a $20 billion day

I did a little research on Valentine’s Day, and here’s some interesting information on the holiday. First of all, Americans last year spent almost $20 billion on Valentine gifts, dining and other things, according to market research.com in an article on Valentine’s Day stats.

Of the $20 billion, $1.7 billion is spent on candy for Valentine’s Day, translating to more than 58 million pounds of candy. What’s really interesting is a recent marketresearch.com survey on what women want for Valentine’s Day found that only 1 percent of women surveyed want to get candy.

The top choice for the perfect Valentine’s gift for ladies last year was a romantic dinner. Flowers came in second, and jewelry came in third with over $2.2 billion in trinkets purchased.

A lot of that jewelry is being given as engagement rings as about 220,000 wedding proposals occur on this day, according to a Time Newsfeed story. Plus, lovers spend $1.9 billion for flowers on Valentine’s Day, according to NN.com.

Historical stuff

Valentine cards were first produced in this country by New Englander Esther Howland back in 1789. She sold $5,000 worth of the one-penny cards the first year. Greeting card manufacturers now sell about $1 billion worth of Valentine’s Day cards each year.

There are a number of ideas of how Valentine’s Day and the heart and arrow symbols came about. One legend contends that Valentine’s Day started in Roman times when Emperor Claudius II prohibited young men of military age from getting married because he thought it made them better warriors. A Catholic priest named Valentine — an old romantic — kept performing marriages in secret until he was caught and killed with an arrow through his heart on Feb. 14.

That sounds more interesting than the other legend that Valentine’s Day comes from the ancient Roman holiday called Lupercalia Day where Roman men killed goats then — totally naked — and splashed the blood on young women with the belief it made them fertile.

Luckily for us, that Valentine’s Day custom never caught on.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone.

— Myron Kukla

Myron Kukla is a Midwest writer based in Holland, Michigan, Tulip capital of the world. He is the author of several books of humor including Guide to Surviving Life: A 3,487-step Guide to Self-Improvement and Confessions of a Baby Boomer available at www.squareup.com/store/myronkuklabooks. Email him at myronkuklabooks.com.

Baking made less easy

It starts with a simple thought, “let’s make cookies.”

Unlike the vacuum of space where no one can hear your scream, the mere mention of cookies reverberates from every surface in the household until it sparks a small stampede of toddler toes. Sometimes I think they’re just part of the required baking equipment like a spatula or measuring cups; I need only to set down the Kitchen Aid mixer on the counter and turn around to find two new attachments hopping excitedly on either side.

Accepting that this will not be the efficient task I originally imagined, we line up at the sink to remove a temporary layer of dirt from my volunteer assistants. I acknowledge that any attempts at full sanitation with be short lived, so we go through the motions mostly to encourage the concept of proper hygiene. We also have a rule regarding no touching and no coughing in or around the mixing bowl. Like Vegas, “What happens in your nose stays in your nose.”

The girls march back to their assigned step stools with hands raised in the air like surgeons ready for operation. This is an appropriate state of mind because in the spirit of fairness every task must be precisely divided between them to avoid malpractice claims and disruptive hissy fits. One holds the whisk, while the other scoops the flour. Trade off, and the other whisks the flour while the first takes a scoop. One unwraps a stick of butter, the other unwraps a stick of butter. Crack one egg, crack one egg.

I have specifically selected recipes with ingredients easily divisible by two. If your “Coco-loco Chocolate Chippo Cookie” calls for 1/3 cup of flour, it ain’t gonna happen in this kitchen, bucko!  And so it goes with tag team pouring and measuring right down to an even division of labor where one will lower and lock the mixer, and the other will turn it on. As the plumes of flour settle about the kitchen so, too, do we settle into a predictable rhythm of sharing: taking turns fishing out egg shells and wiping off the sugar-coated counter surfaces to create the sugar-coated floor surface. Let it not be argued who was able to brush away more sugar.

As we near the end of the process, the real motivation behind my eager assistants becomes clear with our two important cooking concepts: “quality control” and “taster finger.” Quality control requires that key ingredients like chocolate chips and marshmallows be carefully scrutinized for taste and freshness. This requires a random sampling of say three to 30 pieces to ensure proper consistency. The “taster finger” is a related quality check on our resulting batter to prevent fingers (which are predictably dirty at this point) from plunging outright into the bowl. No sooner is the paddle attachment removed from the mixer than eager fingers descend upon it like a swarm of hungry piranha cleaning the carcass down to the bone.

As lips and fingers are licked clean (or dirty) and I prepare to start scooping out the cookies, we proudly admire our shared creation. The grease-smeared grins that spread across their faces more than makes up for the added hassle of managing these little cookie monsters. It was all worth it in the end. And just as I’m filled with a sense of fulfillment, there comes the abrupt inevitable sneeze directly into the batter. Time to start again.

“Who wants to be the first flour scooper?”

— Robert Hoffman

Robert Hoffman delights in being a struggling writer and artist.  He’s illustrated the children’s book A Different Kind of Day and worked as staff cartoonist at the Sacramento State Hornet. When he’s not struggling creatively, he works as a code monkey specializing in educational software and works with such fancy clients as Disney and Nickelodeon. Robert lives in Rocklin, California, where he also struggles with writing short author bios.

I’ll remember the women’s march forever
because the Sharpie is still on me

I may truly remember the women’s march forever because my Sharpie-markered emergency contact info…is still on my forearm!

I’m a prepared and practical person. So I put it there in permanent marker, in case I needed it. In case I lost my identification. In case I lost my phone. In case I got separated from the woman I went to the march with.

In case, for some unforeseeable reason I was unable to give it myself.

And, of course, as with most things in life, I prepared for the worst so I wouldn’t need it. And I didn’t. But I knew that if I had. No matter the obstacle, my emergency contact would come running. Because I needed help.

And after I finally made it home at the end of a worthwhile day shared with women around the world, I washed with soap and water. But it wouldn’t come off.

So, I scrubbed a little harder. But the Sharpie stayed.

Then I loofahed a little. And came out silky smooth and exfoliated, but my felt-tipped forearm still screamed for assistance.

So, I surrendered, slipped on my pajamas and went about the rest of my bedtime ritual. But every time I moved my arm to brush my teeth or pull back the bedding or turn a page, the big black lettering would slide from my sleeve just enough to remind me that if I needed help, someone would answer the call.

So I folded back the felt and stared down at the broad-tipped, bold helping hand that refused to relinquish its grip on my forearm.

I considered using rubbing alcohol, but I was already in bed. Plus I wasn’t in the mood to lie there, all night long, stewing in the smell of sterile hospital stays gone by. This was not a day for that.

And I contemplated lemon oil. That would smell a lot better. Besides, when life gives you lemons…

You drive to LA.

Exercise your right to assemble.

And your right to free speech.

Then come home.

Crush the crap out of those lemons.

And rub their oil on your forearm!

I liked it! I like it a lot! But, I didn’t have any lemon oil or literal lemons, so I decided to just sleep on it.

And when I woke, my contact conundrum was slightly faded but still there. Still legible. Still promising to come when I called.

And as I pulled the cotton balls from the cupboard, I stopped myself. And stared. Stared hard at the options that I had. Right there. Just an arm’s length away.

A promise, there in permanent marker. In case I was in danger of losing my identity. Or losing my voice. Or becoming separated from society and shoved to the fringes.

In case, for some unforeseeable reason I was unable to do it myself. Help was on the way.

A boldfaced reminder that I, too, have a responsibility. Not just to walk or march. But to come running. Because I am that emergency contact who during that march, was just an arm’s length away. And I cannot fade. I must remain that helping hand that refuses to let go.

I put the cotton balls back. I closed the cupboard. I rolled up my sleeves.

I may truly remember the women’s march forever because my Sharpie-markered emergency contact info…is still on my forearm!

— Laura Becker

Laura Becker is an essayist who currently resides in Redondo Beach with her screenwriting partner/husband. Born in Missouri. Raised in Kansas. Adolescence/young adulthood in Iowa, which, according to Walter Neft in Double Indemnity, makes her a native Californian. She writes, quips, muses and laughs about almost anything…almost.

Musings

As an actress, mother, wife, friend, colleague (very part time-professor who teaches half a course), new blogger/writer and retired physician, I am an amazing multi-tasker — as are all the women and many of the men I know.

I am not always a paid actress (read almost never paid and when she is, she loses money on accommodations and meals), but I am an actress. I am almost 60 years old. I actually practice saying that so it won’t come as such a shock next month when I turn 60. Acting is a second career for me, and it is way more fun than being a doctor, my first career — much as I loved my patients who I really hope are reading this.

I decided to become an actress after retiring as a physician. I figured if you meet people and want to chat and you tell them you are a retired physician, you get “oh really” or “wow” or “you are so lucky” and the conversation pretty much ends there, while they look around for someone more interesting. But when you tell them you are an actress, you get everyone’s attention and you become the life of the party. So, I am an actress, and I have actually made movies and been in plays. My first movie will be shown at the SoCal film festival in February. You better believe we are all going to that one. I look “interesting” enough in little photos, but I cannot wait to see me on a big screen.

I wish I looked like my headshot every day. Actually, I do look like my headshot if I have a makeup artist, a stylist, great lighting, spectacular undergarments and a wonderful photographer. That is the most fun thing about being an actress — with make up and great lighting you can look like anyone you want. And you can drop 20 years like magic!

I am married (same man for 33 years — you need a sense of humor to accomplish this). Actually my husband needs the sense of humor. I am high maintenance; after all I am an actress. My two grown children wish to remain anonymous.   In deference to Dr. Seuss, I will call them Kid 1 and Kid 2. I must say I am very proud of both of them and their choices in life — so far. If they are still doing this well when they are 35 years old, I will write the one and only How to Raise your Children book by someone who can document she actually did it successfully. We have a few years to go before I can claim that, but it is looking really good right now.

I will offer one piece of child-raising advice now, though. Never trust a book or article titled, “How to have fun with your children under 16 on vacation.” There is no way to do this. They are just trying to suck you in, wanting you to have the same miserable time they did.

In fairness to the kids, they hate it, too. Once they could drive their own cars and pack their own suitcases, we would let them follow us to our vacation destination. We even let them stay in the condo with us. Now that was a fun vacation, and the only way to travel, peacefully, with children.

— Mandy Gennaro

Mandy Gennaro is a retired physician, actress and new blogger, whose musings appear at A Day in the Life of a NE Actress.

Reflections of Erma