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The passive-aggressive, unintentionally
racist Dunkin’ Donuts customer

Abby ByrdMonday
6:47 a.m.

Good morning, Morose Caucasian. Let me give you my card. There you go. And you’re closing the window without saying hello. I must say, I’ve been trying for several months now to cope with the loss of the extremely benevolent Indian employees at the Dunkin’ Donuts near my old house, yet my loss becomes keener each day that I’m greeted by your dour expression. I use the word “greeted” figuratively, of course, given that you’ve failed to offer me an actual greeting. And there’s my medium hazelnut coffee with extra cream, handed to me without a smile.

Tuesday
6:43 a.m.

Hello, Morose Caucasian. I see you’re earning your nickname again this morning. It’s very early — oh, I recognize that. And I hate to keep bringing this up, but your Indian counterpart at the Dunkin’ Donuts across town is smiling right now as he hands a lucky customer a coffee and a free munchkin for the little “munchkin” he’s noticed sleeping in the back seat. Now he’s wishing her a pleasant day. It’s been said that Indians are the friendliest people in donut history, and my experience certainly bears out this saying — but as I said, not to compare. I hope you have a pleasant day, even though you appear not to wish the same for me.

Wednesday
6:50 a.m.

I’m forced to assume that you dislike your job. Or dislike me. Or are suffering through some sort of personal crisis? What is it? Did you fail out of school? Were you recently spurned by a morose female? Perhaps a disgruntled customer had the temerity to point out that your drive-through disposition pales significantly in comparison to the sunny disposition of Mr. Patel, from the Dunkin’ Donuts across town. I may have mentioned him.

Thursday
6:55 a.m.

I’m considering driving 45 minutes out of my way to once again feel the warm glow of hospitality that always radiated from Mr. Patel. I remember him fondly. What’s that? Oh, hello, Morose Caucasian. Business as usual. Visa card for medium coffee. Quid pro quo. And yet something is missing.

Friday
6:38 a.m.

Good morning, Morose Caucasian. Here’s my card, and while I’m at it—no, don’t close the window—I’d like you to put on this moustache. That looks smashing on you. Now, could you please talk in an Indian accent? What do you mean, you don’t get paid enough to do that? Ask me to leave? I’ve never been so insulted. You people’s lackluster work ethic and poor customer service skills are EXACTLY WHY ALL OF OUR JOBS ARE BEING OUTSOURCED TO INDIA! What do I mean by “you people”? I think you KNOW what I mean!

Saturday

I have purchased a Keurig and several boxes of Dunkin’ Donuts K-Cups, lest my morning coffee be poisoned by the profound existential depression leaking from that White Devil at the drive-through.

Also, I’m not allowed back there.

— Abby Byrd

Abby Byrd is the poster child for existential angst. Her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, Mamalode, and BLUNTmoms and in Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays. Follow her on Twitter @AbbyBWriter, on Facebook or on her blog, Little Miss Perfect.

Tazisms

Kimba DalferesThis time last year one of my best friends left this world.

My dog Taz, the little miracle mutt who survived a crazy emergency surgery the year before, finally succumbed to the ravages of old age at 13+ years old. Up until his last few months he wholeheartedly continued to chase squirrels and even hauled ass after a fox that appeared quite unexpectedly in the backyard flower bed. Damn near caught him too. For most of his life he was a happy, healthy mutt from the pound who I loved dearly. I sure do miss him.

For those of you who have by chance read I Was In Love With a Short Man Once, you understand my relationship with Taz was not always one of full love and mutual admiration. We survived, sometimes barely, incidences of peeing on the Christmas tree and eating the smoked salmon off the kitchen counter. It took both of us quite a while before we fully recovered from the “ate the wedding bouquet” incident.

Over time I came to love and appreciate life with Taz, even the puppy mishaps and the stubborn “I’m not going out in the snow” tugs-of-war. Taz taught me many lessons, perhaps most importantly the realization that the Universe does not always offer advice and motivation through a dramatic burning bush or a spectacular show of nature’s power. Sometimes, if you really pay attention, quiet little lessons sneak into your thoughts in the most interesting ways. Here is my top-10  list of my favorite Taz-induced insights, let’s call them Tazisms:

1. A sad puppy face can get you out of a lot of trouble.

2. A little nap in a sunny spot is always a good solution.

3. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. We rescued Bonz the cat when Taz was 11. He rolled with it like they had always cohabitated.

4. Almost everything tastes better with a little smidge of peanut butter.

5. No matter how old you get, you still wanna run with the pack every once in a while.

6. A cheerful little wag of your tail often gets you what you want.

7. Love unconditionally; it is contagious.

8. It’s rarely fun to be stuck in the doghouse.

9. Just because you mark your territory doesn’t mean it’s actually yours.

10. Be someone’s very best and most loyal friend.

Rest in peace dear ol’ friend. I hope you’re chasing your fill of squirrels and that you’ve found a sunny place to nap on GeeGee and Grumps’ heavenly front porch.

Kimberly “Kimba” J. Dalferes is a native Floridian who currently pretends to be a Virginian. Her accomplishments have included successfully threading a sewing bobbin, landing a 35-pound Alaskan King salmon and scoring a ceramic sangria pitcher at an estate sale for $1. She also sometimes writes books such as I Was In Love With a Short Man Once. Her humor column – Dock Tale Hour – is published by Laker Magazine. She is often found hanging out on her blog The Middle-Aged Cheap Seats.

‘God Box’ events to help Bombeck workshop

(This piece originally appeared in Sharon Short’s “Literary Life” column in the Dayton Daily News March 8. Reposted by permission of the author. For information about the performances and tickets, click here.)

Mary Lou Quinlan headshot_MLQ Co1 Tickets are on sale for “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story,” a critically acclaimed one-woman show by writer/performer Mary Lou Quinlan.

Performances will be held on March 30-31, each night at 7, at the University of Dayton’s Boll Theatre. The shows benefit the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop endowment fund.

A “talk-back” follows each performance. On March 30, locally based writers Katrina Kittle, Joanne Huist Smith, Mary Jo McCarty and yours truly will join Mary Lou on stage to discuss “Writing Your Heart Out.” On March 31, WHIO-TV (NewsCenter 7) anchor Cheryl McHenry will emcee a discussion with Betsy Bombeck and Mary Lou.

“My mother was my best friend and role model, a true light in my family’s life. She was the first person I called with any news, personal or professional,” says Mary Lou. “Losing her in May, 2006, made everything seem somehow less valuable.”

“As a writer with a career spent in advertising,” Mary Lou adds, “I was used to writing and talking about various aspects of life. I wanted to use my writing skills to somehow process the loss of my dear mother.”

Mary Lou, who lives and works in New York, eventually discovered her mother’s “God Box.”

“The box, it turned out, was mom’s way of both keeping and releasing her concerns, hopes and wishes for her family and friends,” Mary Lou explains. “She’d write a little note to God, capturing a prayer, and tuck it in the box. For example, she might encounter a friend at the grocery who was facing a medical issue, and nervous about the outcome of an upcoming exam. So mom would write a note — ‘Dear God, help Sarah with her medical test … ’ and so on. Her notes in the God Box were written just the way you’d write a letter to a friend — direct, honest, even funny.”

Mary Lou first wrote of her discovery, and the role it played in her mourning and healing process, in an article for Real Simple magazine, in 2010.

“The article more or less took on a life of its own,” Mary Lou says. “It generated such a huge response. So, I expanded the article into a book, which is in many ways a universal story, and a love letter to mothers everywhere.”

Mary Lou is also the author of three other books, including one on marketing to women. The God Box is her first foray into book-length personal writing.

Mary Lou has retired from her marketing career and now spends much of her time performing her show as a fundraiser for charities. She’s performed the show more than 80 times, at venues around the world.

“I heard a lot of great comments about the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop from friends,” Mary Lou says. “I planned to attend in 2010, but sadly my father passed away and I was unable to come. However, I attended the workshop in 2012 as a keynoter. I loved hanging out with the smartest, funniest bunch of women I’d ever met at the workshop.”

“Mom was a huge fan of Erma Bombeck. I grew up hearing my mother read aloud or talk about Erma’s pieces, and whenever mom had an awkward moment, she’d just say, ‘Erma Bombeck!’ And that somehow seemed to explain it all.”

So, Mary Lou says, when the idea arose for her to give her “God Box, Daughter’s Story” performance as a fundraiser for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, the response seemed easy and obvious. “Of course I said yes!”

All proceeds from the tickets and well as from the sale of Mary Lou’s book at the performances will go to support the workshop’s endowment fund.

Learn more about Mary Lou and her work online at www.marylouq.com.

Learn more about “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story” at www.thegodboxproject.com.

For more event details and ticket information, visit http://humorwriters.org/ or click here.

— Sharon Short

Sharon Short writes the weekly “Literary Life” column in the Dayton Daily News. She is the director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop and an accomplished writer. She has published two mystery series, a book of columns and the recent novel, My One Square Inch of Alaska. In 2014, she served as a finalist judge for the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition.

Menopause has turned our bedroom
into a brothel

Lynne CobbPeri-menopause is making me a changed woman. It is doing things to my body and brain that I never knew it could. It is also changing my house. How, you ask? Because menopause is transforming our bedroom into a brothel.

But, not in the way you would think.

The other morning, I made an astute observation. I stepped into the bedroom and I began to blush — and not from a hot flash. If someone walked into our room, they would raise an eyebrow. Or two.

Thanks to menopause, our bedroom is looking like a brothel:

• You never know which woman will be in the room:
It could be the sentimental, sappy, romantic, “I-need-a-hug-because-I-cried-at-the-ending-of “The Notebook”-again.” Or, it could be the screaming, road-rage-crazy lady who could take out Chuck Norris and Batman at the same time because the estrogen and testosterone are battling it out for the win. I guess this can add a little mystery and excitement. But then again, it might not…

• Love Potion Number 9:
All those tiny little brown glass bottles next to the bed? Love potions? Hardly! These bitty bottles are filled with essential oils, carrier oils and herbs that are slathered on in the attempt to control the battling hormones and the achy legs. If you want to know if these work, the answer is yes. But if someone feels better thinking they are for another use, go right ahead…

• Lingerie on the door handles:
Not what you think. These styling, thigh-high hose keep my legs from aching and support circulation. They also are a great upper-arm workout because they are part of my cardio exercise every morning. Putting support hose on makes me limber and creates beads of sweat. The only merit these miracles of the medical world have is that they are made in Italy — only the uppermost in fashion for my support-needing legs.

• Dim lighting:
Not from flickering candles, but from night lights so that I don’t break my neck fumbling around in the dark for my glasses.

• Fifty Shades of Gray:
Not the book – just my own gray hair.

• High-heels in the corner:
Yes, they were tossed in the corner quickly, and not due to a state of undress. My lower back and baby toes protested loudly, and the pile of shoes will be donated. Soon.

• Expensive perfume:
What used to be reserved for special events and evenings out has become a necessity, because, well, I may need to cover up the results of a hot flash.

• Bed sheets in disarray:
Tossing the pillows and ripping the bedding off the mattress has a brand new meaning when living your own personal summer.

Maybe I should not complain because, in many ways, menopause is keeping me one hot lady with a sexy-looking bedroom. Maybe I should not have revealed what is going on behind the scenes. Maybe it’s better to fantasize about our room being a brothel instead of a staging area to keep my hormones in check. One thing is for sure, retaining a sense of humor about this life-changing event is critical — well, until the mood changes again. Which it could. Today. In an hour. In a minute.

— Lynne Cobb

Lynne Cobb is a writer, journalist and blogger, with articles and essays published in local and national newspapers and magazines. Several of her blog posts have appeared on BlogHer and Midlife Boulevard. Lynne is a military spouse, a military mom and an almost-empty nester. She shares her midlife musings at “Midlife Random Ramblings,” where this post first appeared. You can also catch up with her on Facebook or follow on Twitter @LynneCobb.

Invasion of the killer icicles

cook_photo_(This essay appeared in the Salem News on Feb. 22, 2014. Reposted by permission.)

As I write this, the North Shore has gotten a break in the snowy onslaught we recently experienced. On Wednesday we emerged, like hermits, to savor the 22-degree weather. The drip-drip of melting snow was music to the ears.

At the same time it’s too early to make jokes about the Winter of 2015. At this point no one is breathing easily. Yet at my house, I’m experiencing a sense of liberation: Freedom from the tyranny of the Killer Icicles.

These weren’t your everyday icicles, these were prehistoric, reminiscent of the Ice Age. At their peak, before we felled them — or rather before Joe Malloy felled them — they were more than a foot wide and eight feet long. They hung from our front porch like dinosaur teeth. Early on, before they grew to mammoth proportions, I posted photos on Facebook. I even made jokes about them. Meanwhile, they continued growing during the night as we slept.

Every morning I opened the front door to peek at the monster appendages. No longer content to be outside, they’d entered our porch, morphing into a solid mass. I was reminded of a photo I’d once seen of a frozen Niagara Falls, the jagged spikes suspended in the air. Eventually I stopped opening the door. I feared coming downstairs and finding the icicles had worked their way inside, their tentacles creeping across the carpet. I realize this might sound paranoid. On the other hand, when the snow outside is halfway up your windows and the prospect of more snow threatens to engulf your house, you feel vulnerable.

During the worst of the blizzard, Beverly residents got updated phone messages from City Hall. One concerned the falling temperatures and the possible loss of power during the night. In that case, citizens were told to call the police; a “warming room” would be made available. I had a vision of this space, the air steamy as residents thawed.

At our house, we had no alternative source of power. Without electricity, we’re toast — no, we’re bread; toasting required electricity. We depend on National Grid for everything: cooking, heating, microwave popcorn. Thus, when the temperature dropped to the single digits, I was prepared. When I climbed into bed that night, I wore two woolen sweaters, sweat pants, insulated socks and a scarf. If we had to make an emergency trip to the warming room, I was ready. Not one to get unduly alarmed, my husband remained in his pajamas. Meanwhile, I got the cats’ carriers out, hoping they’d be welcomed as well.

Although we survived the night, my Mini Cooper remained buried in snow. When it was finally excavated, I turned on the ignition. An unfamiliar symbol appeared. I looked it up in the Mini owners’ manual: engine malfunction. Gary, of Farms Full Service station, told me to bring it in. Fortunately, as it warmed up, the Mini ceased to display the disturbing symbol.

Before heading out to Gary’s station, I bundled up. From the hall closet I dug out a Swiss military hat, bought years ago from the Vermont Country Store and never worn. The hat has a visor, padded ear flaps and attached scarf. It’s a serious winter hat with everything but shoulder pads. I unearthed it from a carton stuck high on a shelf in our front closet. Alas the moths had beaten me to it. They had filigreed the wool so it resembled a black lace mantilla with ear flaps.

Meanwhile, the monster icicles grew. There would be no peace with them encroaching upon our home. At that point I called in the big guns: Joe Malloy, a retired Beverly Farms firefighter. He donned snow shoes and scaled our 10-foot “lawn” armed with a rubber mallet and a roof rake. Over the next hour Joe did battle. In the end, the giant icicles had been felled. For the first time in a week I breathed easier.

— Sharon L. Cook

Sharon L. Cook is author of A Nose for Hanky Panky and A Deadly Christmas Carol.

The insanity of closed captions

steve_eskewResearch is sketchy on who or what transcribes TV’s closed captions for the hearing impaired. I think I know why: Neither human nor artificial intelligence wants the blame for all of the blunders. My hat’s off to the hearing impaired. I can easily relate to their frustrations, even though no one in my household is deaf. With the possible exception of my inflatable woman.

Therefore, with near perfect hearing, some people would probably think me daft for setting up our TV for a feature reserved expressly for the hearing impaired. Daft? Definitely. But my rationale for setting up the captions reeks legit. It’s because I like to watch TV while waiting for the tech-support guys from India to come back on the phone line. You know? To walk me through whatever computerized gadget I can’t navigate. News flash: I’m not overly literate. I need lots of help operating any offsprings of modern technology.

Because of their evil nature, the tech people love to keep me on hold. Interminably. During those dull intervals, both writing and reading become impossible. Who can concentrate? Every 15 seconds, the tech service insists upon repeating its annoying recorded assurance that it considers my call “very important.” And with all that static blather, who can hear TV dialogue?

So, I got the bright idea of muting the TV and reading the closed captions while I wait. Surprise! Very few of the captions comprise the remotest semblance of sense. I figured out why. One murky morning, I decided to perform an experiment. I left the TV sound turned up while the closed caption feature transcribed the spoken words. My God! What it doesn’t misinterpret, it omits altogether.

Like a Puritan, the closed caption feature sheepishly bleeps out words like “vagina” and “scrotum.” Evidently, those words should be reserved only for those of us who can hear. However, the system gets fooled on occasion and transcribes words like “dildo.” Of course, it spells the word “Bill Toe,” leaving deaf people under the impression that an enigmatic man named Bill Toe could be a horny person’s best buddy.

Once a character was chatting about her multilingual friend. The closed caption read: “Flora travels the world. She’s affluent in several languages.” (I’ll bet she is at that). Later, a news anchor character announced how a bomb scare had prompted authorities to evaporate the Arts and Sinuses Building. (Hate when that happens).

Recently, the contraption stalled on the word “sexual,” letting the word linger in lonely limbo on the screen for several seconds. Then, suddenly, it spat out the rest of the sentence, along with several other paragraphs with such a frantic rapidity that even a world-class speed reader would be lost. By that point, being a certified neurotic who’s deeply in love with a testy inflatable woman, I began screaming: “Sexual what? Sexual who? Sexual where? Sexual how?”

Time after time, after the frustrations of closed captions have driven me to the edge of insanity, finally out of India comes a live voice over my speaker phone, asking how she can help. I start to cry. I can’t remember why I even called tech support. Why didn’t I save a step and simply call my shrink instead? My shrink? Oh, that’s right: he’s stopped taking my calls eons ago.

The real tragedy was discovering that I’m totally unable to shut down the contemptible closed caption feature on my TV. And no one will help. No one. For some reason, most of the tech people have blacklisted me. Thus, hence and therefore, every show I watch includes closed captions cluttering up the screen. Today, I watched a scene occurring in an office setting.

A secretary spoke: “Death is on the way into your office,” the caption read. The door burst open and a short, red-headed young woman sprang into the room and said: “Hi, I’m Beth.”

Silly me. I was expecting to see a tall guy with a cycle.

— Steve Eskew

Retired businessman Steve Eskew received master’s degrees in dramatic arts and communication studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha after he turned 50. After one of his professors asked him to write a theater column, he began a career as a journalist at The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This led to hundreds of publications in a number of newspapers, most of which appear on his website, eskewtotherescue.com.

Fear of flying

Rachael KoenigAmong many other personality idiosyncrasies that seem to be worsening with age, I have developed an increasingly frustrating aversion to flying. On a plane, that is.

In my youth, I remember the idea of taking a trip to some far away exotic place like Buenos Aires or Cleveland as something magical and thrilling. Even having to wake up in the wee hours of the morning before the sun rose and leaving the house in blackness created a sense of mysterious purpose and adventure. I was a hobbit in a Tolkien story, throwing my leather knapsack over my shoulder (or perhaps dragging a vinyl Strawberry Shortcake carry-on case) and starting off on a journey of great importance. To slay a dragon. Or visit grandparents. Whatever.

Part of the thrill was surely the novelty of it; because I can count on one finger how many plane excursions I took between the ages of two and 15. We were a family of automobile passengers; my parents content to contain our escapades within the tri-state area. As such, I remained a less-experienced traveler throughout much of my youth, resulting in a somewhat diminished appreciation for foreign cultures. For instance, as a 7-year-old, on an extremely rare foray to Puerto Rico, I remember the highlight of the trip being the several large bowls of Rice Krispies I was allowed to eat for breakfast in the hotel, a delicacy I was not sanctioned to enjoy at home.

Sadly, just as air travel became more of a necessity in my life, my enthusiasm for it waned as the post-911 airport complexities and entanglements took a firm grip on the industry. Although I realize the absurdity of diminishing the required anti-terrorism tactics by using the phrase “a real killjoy,” I can’t help recalling fondly the last time I made it through a security line without catching a sock in my shoe as I hopped along attempting to remove multiple layers of clothing with one hand while I guided dirty plastic bins containing my belongings through the conveyor belt with the other.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy waiting in lines. Or being herded like cattle through an X-ray machine that will no doubt at any minute be proven to cause cancer. Or being forced to guzzle down the bottle of water I just bought for $5 before I get to the front of the security line. Or sucking up to TSA officials on the off chance they might find me suspicious looking (I’m not sure I have ever resembled my own driver’s license photo). Or being charged an additional $50 for every extra pound over some arbitrary pre-determined mass that my suitcase may weigh. Or keeping all my liquid items under four ounces and sealed in a plastic bag in my purse. Or removing my belt in front of strangers. Or watching other strangers remove their belts in front of me.  Actually, I take it back — I don’t enjoy any of that.

Lately, being forced to spend time in the airport makes me angry. Just considering the possibility, as distant as it may be, that my flight will be delayed or cancelled puts me on high rage alert, as I psyche myself up for an inevitable argument with a customer service representative or flight attendant. The fact that I have no control over how many minutes are spent sitting near a gate waiting to depart or even on the plane before take-off creates in me a perfect storm of anxiety, apprehension and angst. By the time I’m told to ‘sit back, relax and enjoy the flight’, I have a pulsing vein in my temple.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy paying for meals that used to be free. Or paying for headphones that used to be free. Or paying for movies that used to be free. Or being told “cashews are for first class only.”

Besides the internal psychological warfare that accompanies any trip I may take on a plane these days, there is the continuing and exasperating demise of my physical tolerance for turbulence. Whether it’s directly related to some aging symptom of my impending decrepitude or perhaps an indication that my mind-body connection is disconnecting, I find myself increasingly incapable of dealing with air bumps. My head and stomach suffer varying degrees of nausea as the plane tilts and rolls over invisible pockets of air, causing me to grip the arm rests of my tiny seat with sweaty palms as I stare out the window (which a….l…w…a…y…s… has the shade stuck) in vain and count the seconds until we land.

What usually makes the experience all the more painful is the apparent immunity to such suffering that I am forced to witness in my fellow passengers. On a recent plane ride, I was aggravated to have my sense of sickness compounded by the aroma of a tuna fish sandwich, calmly being consumed across the aisle by Jon Lovits’ doppelganger. As the plane leaned to an angle in the sky that implied we were nearly upside down and my stomach lurched appropriately, I was aghast to notice Jon serenely chewing and swallowing his lunch (upside down!), pausing only to notice my pale and clammy stare. He winked, which I took as a direct indication of his lack of humanity.

The practice of flying, like many other aspects of my life, has revealed itself to be disillusioning as I have grown older. However, currently my travel options are limited. Although I’ll bet if I live long enough to see it, teleportation will get old, too. I mean, all that molecule rearranging just sounds messy.

— Rachael Koenig

Rachael Koenig is a writer and humorist deriving most of her inspiration from her two sons, aged nine and five, and step-daughter, aged 13.  Her site Maxisms contains personal stories and a collection of precocious, snarky and hilarious conversations between herself and her children. Her work has recently appeared on scarymommy.com, rolereboot.org, whattheflicka.com and The New York Times parenting blog Motherlode. She thinks of herself as more of an essayist than a blogger, because she is old-fashioned and grumpy and out of touch with modern social media vernacular. Also, “blogger” still sounds like something one would pull out of a left nostril. She can be reached on Facebook.

A leaky situation

T. Faye GriffinI guess the reality is that there is no getting around getting old. Yes, I said “old.” I don’t care how many so-called “age defying” cosmetics Walgreen’s sells, or how many times somebody says “50 is the new 40,” I know what old is. I’ve got creaky knees, gray hair and can no longer read small print without a pair of cheaters that are recycled Coke bottle bottoms. In my book, that equals old.

And, to top it off, I now leak!

Back in the day when I would sneeze, someone would offer a polite “God bless you” and that would be the end of it. Now when I sneeze animals start to line up two-by-two. What commercials call as “light bladder control problem,” I call a flood. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not quite ready for Depends (knock wood); still, it’s disconcerting to know that I may never be able to have unprotected belly laughs again. The good news is that the mystery of Mama’s insistence on having plastic slipcovers has been solved at last.

But there are some undeniable benefits of growing older. For me, one in particular comes to mind. At nine months, my angel granddaughter Lillian Mae, a.k.a “Lily,” and I have a lot in common. She leaks, too.

Before she was born, I proclaimed to any who would listen that I would never become one of those mushy-gushy grandmothers who can talk of nothing other than their precious progeny. Yeah well, so much for that idea. Can I help it if my Lily-Pop is the most beautiful and brilliant baby ever born? Never could I have imagined a love this divine. To say the least, she has certainly made this growing older business an easier pill to swallow.

Truth be told, however, I don’t remember very much about caring for a baby, especially since my babies are now young adults. My first time up-to-bat at babysitting duty was a bit challenging. She was cranky and wouldn’t sleep. I remembered that a warm bottle and a warm bath is like Kryptonite to babies. Trouble is with my bad knees I couldn’t bend down to the tub. My double kitchen sink was too small, and she’s not exactly ready for the shower.  Then I got an idea — the Wok.

You remember the wok don’t you? We all had them in the ‘80s. Well, I dug out the old wok, wiped the rust off it, filled it with warm water and voila! It was rounded on the bottom so I could give her a bath, warm the bottle and rock her to sleep at the same time. Work smarter, not harder, I always say.

Excuse me? You have a problem with me putting her in the wok? This is not your grandbaby! Everything was perfect except I had a little trouble explaining to her mother why she smelled like soy sauce.

I don’t think I would have appreciated being a grandmother half as much had she been born while I was in my 40s—or God forbid my 30s. (Hey, it happens.) I was much too busy trying to get her father out of the house. But that’s another story for another day. Like millions of grandparents past and present, my first-born grandchild is the joy of my heart and the grace of my years. In her young eyes I see hope for a tomorrow that very well may be a bit moist, but a whole lot brighter, and that does this old heart some good.

— T. Faye Griffin

T. Faye Griffin is an award-winning humorist who’s put words into the mouths of Academy Award winners, comedians, politicians and everyday folk alike. From A&E to PBS, she has amassed an impressive list of writing credits that include the landmark comedy series “In Living Color” and The Los Angeles Times. A respected motivational and inspirational speaker, T. Faye has been a featured instructor at the prestigious Chautauqua Institution and the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center for Comedy. She is the author of the best-selling devotional, Morning Manna: Wisdom Served With Humor and Heart. The Los Angeles native has appeared on FOX, COZI-TV and BET.

Reflections of Erma