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Foul fowl

Rosie SorensonApparently, it’s not enough that I make a contribution to the economy, say, by buying a rubber chicken from Amazon. No. After my purchase they have to go and badger me into writing a review.  Of a rubber chicken!

The subject line in the emails from Amazon read: “Did Rubber Chicken Meet Your Expectations?” Seriously?

Please tell me, in what intelligently designed universe is this not crazy?

Just how many expectations can one have of a rubber chicken? I mean, you can’t eat it; it can’t spring to life to do the funky chicken dance; it can’t lay eggs. It just lies around in its rubber chicken-ness, doing absolutely nothing to contribute to the relationship. That’s pretty much all you can expect of a rubber chicken — not unlike some men I dated back in the day.

But was Amazon going to stop harassing me because I didn’t log onto its website and record my opinion of their funny floppy fowl? No-siree-bob. Just like that boyfriend you once had who wanted to be with you 24/7 so he could suck the brains right out your head, they were not going to give up. This is, after all, We-Rule-the-World Amazon.

Now, I have no intention of telling Amazon, but I will tell you — 50,000 of my closest friends — why I shopped online for a rubber chicken.  Many years ago, before I met my sweetheart Steve, I engaged in what could only be called binge dating.  When someone seemed a possible “keeper,” my friend Jill would organize a “rubber chicken” dinner, a coming-out party, if you will, for my new man to meet several of our friends. It was really more of an excuse for them to audition him. I blush to admit that none of the men prior to Steve received a follow-up invitation; none made the cut. Years later I found out that when my date-du-jour and I would leave the party, eyeballs would begin rolling around in my friends’ heads as if aliens had overtaken them. What was she thinking?

Anyway, after my friends met Steve, Jill said, “Looks like I can finally hang up my rubber chicken!” No more eye rolling.

When our 15th anniversary was upon us, I realized I had been remiss in repaying Jill for all her steadfast support. Thus, the rubber chicken.

After the fourth beseeching email from Amazon, I relented. I logged onto the site and wrote: “I bought this as a gag gift. It’s pretty funny.” Satisfied that I had captured the essence of my chicken purchase, I clicked “Publish.” Done. But, no! Mr. Amazon flashed a message scolding me because I hadn’t “used enough words.” OK — now I’m really cheesed off.  First, they demand I write a review — then they censor me? Don’t they know with whom they are dealing? If a woman is screwy enough to buy a rubber chicken, what else might she do?

Whaddya say we gather a million of our closest friends, don our chicken suits and lay some eggs at Amazon headquarters?

Cluck, cluck, cluck.

— Rosie Sorenson

Rosie Sorenson is the award-winning author of They Had Me at Meow: Tails of Love from the Homeless Cats of Buster HollowHer work has appeared in the Los Angeles TimesChicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and others. In 2007, she won an honorable mention in the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition.

Help! Straight man trapped in gay personality!

Steve EskewContrary to local folklore, I harbor no homosexual desires. However, almost all of my male friends (and about half of my male relatives) are gay. Due to the fact that I’m, shall we say, definitely into my feminine side, some gay men simply assume that I, too, am a member of their royal family; others, who have a keen sense of gaydar, know immediately that I’m pathetically straight.

Subscribing to the belief that the only difference between a straight man and a gay guy is a six-pack of beer, the gay men who think I’m “a member” have come to accept what some refer to as my “illusion of solid heterosexual desires.” At least, they stopped making passes. It must be tough on ‘em. I’m so damn devilishly handsome.

I attribute my sexual ambiguity to the fact that no male role models existed when I was a child. Raised in an exclusively female household, I grew up terrified of men. Now, I’m afraid of women, but I digress. And yes, I’m in therapy. Permanently.

During my preschool years, Mom, who had wanted a girl she planned to name Stevie Sue, thought I looked cute in lipstick and Grandma loved painting my nails bright red. Forget G.I. Joe, I was too busy stumbling around in high heels. No dollies please. That would be girly-like. Stevie Sue eventually participated in piano recitals and became a talented tap dancer.

By the time I started school, though far from macho, I had lost interest in lipstick and high heels. However, hanging out with my female classmates felt more comfortable than roughhousing with boys. None of the boys liked me in particular, but they never bullied me. Perhaps they feared that I’d hit them with my purse. Just kidding. Or am I? Truth be told, most of my male classmates indeed seemed a bit nervous in my company. The girls adored  me. I was a misfit and I loved it. Still am. Still do.

I always hated family powwows during holidays because all the males were expected to plant themselves in front of the television, cheering on a football team. During such times, when I was a teenager, I began hanging out in the kitchen with the women. No one objected; I guess they figured boys will be girls. Actually, I was a unique closet case. Believe me, no one suspected that a raging hetero lurked in their midst.

Although I definitely feel comfortable with women most of all, I generally prefer the company of gay men over straight men. I like chick flicks better than war movies. In addition to my hatred of sports, unlike many of the other straight men,  I abhor discussions involving motor mechanics and women as sex objects.

I do exhibit some wannabe masculine moments: I keep the flame in my personality turned down low. I’ve never swished into a room. I need no tape to keep my wrists straight. I neither crochet, embroidery nor knit. I hate cooking and despise cleaning. I’ve never worn a dress  and I’ve never been bi-curious. On the other hand, I love Barbra, Bette, Liza and Cher. I’ve always considered them very sexy. Even as senior citizens.

And, for the record, I’ve confined all dating (and marriages) to women. For pretty much the  same reasons that many straight men have rejected my company, most women have embraced it. I understand women’s issues and I can speak girl-talk fluently. In addition, some women have considered me a real sex siren. Or maybe they just respected a guy who’s never been afraid to be himself.

I’ll always be theatrical. For example, I enjoy using accents. Recently at a dinner party, I started speaking with an English accent and soon all the guest followed suit and we all began babbling “in English” and continued throughout the entire evening. We had a ball. All of the other males were gay. I know of no other straight men who would engage in such conduct.

They don’t know what they’re missing.

— 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.

Dear Robin Williams

Barreca-Gina(This piece first appeared in Psychology Today on Aug. 12, 2014. Reposted by permission of Gina Barreca.)

What I would like to write is this:

“Dear Robin Williams:

Are you kidding me?

At first I thought this was some kind of Reichenbach Falls moment straight out of Sherlock Holmes, where you fully believe your beloved character dies but learn he was never dead, only in hiding. Then I thought maybe it was like something out of Mark Twain, where the story of your death was highly exaggerated. Yet I kept hearing the story on the car radio: it was as inescapable as a smashup on the highway and as impossible to ignore. I heard it until it became as real as the passing of someone I knew. It took on the icy, heedless and nasty finality of a real death and the loss felt personal.”

But I figured he’s getting a lot of mail and messages right now, so I’ll just write about him instead of writing to him.

Even better, I’ll offer the words of somebody who actually worked with him.

I never met Robin Williams, but I have a friend — a brilliant stand-up comic and terrific writer — who did. Judy Carter is author of The Comedy Bible (Simon & Schuster) and The Message of You (St. Martin’s Press); this what she says:

“When he came to LA in the ’70s, all of us comics had our acts — material that we’d meticulously worked on. Sure, every now and then we would try out new material, but we’d never seen anyone like Robin. He would start with a piece about Shakespeare and then, distracted by someone in the audience, would zoom off in a new direction, bouncing off the lightning of ideas in his brain, firing and never misfiring. At the time I was doing a magic act; the stage was pre-set before I began. Robin went on before I did, picking up my props and improvising with then. My magic act was ruined, but Robin taught me to let go and flow with the moment. I’ve always been grateful to him for that.” (Read more of Judy’s memories here.)

Judy’s gratitude is what I’m holding onto right now, because it’s what I feel in abundance even as I feel confused, upset and baffled by Williams’ apparent suicide.

Like all truly great humorists, Robin Williams held a mirror up to our lives and showed us the distorted, funhouse version of reality — which we often recognized as, in its essence, more true and valid than any other vision. He would focus on the details but end up making sweeping philosophical statements; comedy and humor are, as Emerson and others have noted, a serious business.

Creators of comedy and humor remind us that there’s more to life than the simple process of living.

I won’t send any letters, but — like many others — I send Mr. Williams my wishes for a bon voyage. I send my applause, my cheers and my gratitude for the sheer extravagance of his extraordinary talent.

— 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 and returned to be part of the faculty in 2014. Learn more about Gina here.

Vacation fantasy vs. reality

Carisa MillerEvery year, our family takes vacation in a two-week lump sum at the end of summer. And every year, I build up a fantasy that it will be a combination of ultimate relaxation and effortless productivity. The end all, be all, of events.

Behold, vacation! Where everything I have ever wanted happens simultaneously. Outdoor adventure, travel, family fun, marital bonding, home improvement, self enhancement and world peace. By the time vacation arrives, I’ve mostly forgotten I am naught but a daydreaming dope with two small children.

Vacation Fantasy: The family would frolic into the wilderness to enjoy the peaceful beauty of nature.
Vacation Reality: We ran ourselves ragged wrangling a maniacal toddler while being blasted by the obnoxious, outrageously loud music of the jerks in the next campsite.

Vacation Fantasy: My husband and I would spend eternity alone together, sharing our dreams and bodies.       Vacation Reality: The children fell asleep in the car on the way to our cabin and we sat sweating on the front porch playing Scrabble over a beer while they slept in the running, air-conditioned car.

Vacation Fantasy: We would all get away to enjoy the rented luxury of a tastefully furnished cabin.
Vacation Reality: The proprietors’ tasteful furnishings consisted of low-lying shelves adorned with baby-magnet breakables and cinnamon oil drenched pine cones, hidden like Easter eggs I had to use my gag reflex to locate.

Vacation Fantasy: Our easy-going offspring would effortlessly adapt to foreign lodgings.
Vacation Reality: We became the proud parents of an 18-month-old pinball, who hurled herself with increasing force at everything in her path the later it got and who wouldn’t sleep unless I went to bed with her so she could steamroll me all night.

Vacation Fantasy: Back at home, fresh mulch would spread itself over the entire garden.
Vacation Reality: I had eight yards of mushroom compost delivered to the driveway where it will likely occupy the needed parking space until Christmas.

Vacation Fantasy: The back side of the house would get painted. (The front side was painted in the spring…of last year.)
Vacation Reality: It got hosed down.

Vacation Fantasy: By merely blinking, brilliantly composed essays would amass in surplus.
Vacation Reality: I exhausted myself to beat two writing deadlines, then left 72 tabs open on my computer for a week, in exchange for peeing in the woods.

Vacation Fantasy: I would run on the beach, practice yoga alongside the river and meditate in the forest.
Vacation Reality: I broke my record for most days in a row without a shower and exercised zero times.

I must be an idiot, because I was sincerely surprised when the real vacation didn’t come close to my fantasy. At this point in mothering I should know my best chance at having a truly relaxing and productive experience is on random solo trips to the grocery store or dentist.

That won’t stop me from fantasizing about a painless vacation. It’s like opting for the epidural. With it, I am prepared to face the ring of campfire.

— Carisa Miller

Carisa Miller is a sarcasm-wielding, cherub-lugging, cheese-devouring, nut-job writer. Writing what she describes as human interest humor, she meaningfully fills her essays with one-liners and, on occasion, intentionally fills them with meaning. She has been featured on such sites as In The Powder Room, Scary Mommy , Honest Mom and Blogher, is a contributing author to The Herstories Project anthology and is the director and co-producer of Listen To Your Mother: Portland. A collection of her jokes, links to published work and blogs are all gathered at CarisaMiller.com and can be found scattered across social media forums.

Head trip

Camille DeFer ThompsonI loved Tammy, but it was time to move on.

“She’s working at Tribez now,” Joanne said of our mutual hairdresser, at our memoir meeting. “In Blackhawk.”

“Blackhawk?” I whined. “Way out there?”

My friend rolled her eyes. “It’s not that far. And besides, you only see her once a month.”

Tammy and I shared a long history. Over the years, she guided me through the dark days of awkward outgrowth from a short, layered cut to a sleek chin-length bob. A decade later, despite her valiant, but failed efforts to dissuade me from my foolish notion to restore my hair to its natural color, she didn’t judge when I begged her to transform the hideous flat, gray-streaked taupe to a youthful faux flaxen. I even recommended her to friends in search of a new ’do.

Nevertheless, I could see no reason to follow my mane maven to her new locale. According to Google Maps, it was over twice the distance from my “current location” than to her old salon, a tank-emptying 6.2 miles and estimated 13 minute drive. Plus, Blackhawk was so upscale I got a nosebleed whenever I drove through the tony neighborhoods. From previous trips there for classic car shows and concerts, I recalled pricey boutiques and posh eateries with European names surrounding a manufactured pool, seeded with families of chic water fowl. I had no intention of subjecting myself on a regular basis to the shameless spectacle of bloated opulence.

Though I valued Tammy’s expertise and gentle, supportive nature, I had no doubt my simple cut and golden highlights could be duplicated by any hairdresser worth her flat iron at any local chop shop.

But with the wedding of a friend’s daughter coming up in a few weeks, I couldn’t risk trusting my next trim and dye job to a new stylist. Experience taught me that it takes a few visits to achieve just the right look. Images of an unfortunate ’70s brassy shag and an ’80s perm gone wrong flooded my mind.

I decided to suck it up and visit Tammy’s fancy new shop for one final cut and color before abandoning her to find a salon closer to home. At the appointed hour, I loaded the car with bottled water and energy bars, set my GPS and started the arduous expedition. My journey took me over once-lush rolling hills, trampled by luxury, gated subdivisions, golf courses and shopping centers.

I settled into the chair at Tammy’s new station for the first — and only — time. An hour and a half later, I admired my sleek, polished look in the mirror. Tammy swiped my MasterCard through the little cube perched atop her smart phone.

“Thanks. Looks great,” I said. “See you next…uh…have a nice day.” I averted my eyes and slinked towards the door.

Back out on the plaza, the smell of gourmet pizza wafted in my direction. What the heck, I thought. I’ll spring for a slice, then make my final getaway.

Juggling my purse, a can of cola and the cheesy pie piece, I found an empty bench beside the cement pond, shaded by a cluster of well-placed trees. I nibbled my lunch, entertained by a mother mallard leading four —  five — no, six fluffy ducklings, bobbing up and down across the rippling water.

As I sat enjoying the afternoon sun, a funny thing happened. The shops took on a new appeal. I wandered into a bookstore and browsed the shelves. In a nearby boutique, a trendy bangle bracelet caught my eye.

On the way back to my car, I stopped at Tribez and scheduled an appointment for next month. Why not? It’s not that far.

— Camille DeFer Thompson

Camille DeFer Thompson is a freelance writer and blogger. Her short fiction and non-fiction appear in a number of anthologies, including Not Your Mother’s Book…on Home Improvement. Her feature articles can be found online and in print. Camille lives in Northern California. Visit her humor blog at www.camilledeferthompson.com.

Our rained-out family vacations

myron.kuklaIt’s summer. The weather is lousy. Gas prices are the highest in the history of the world. So obviously, it’s time to go on the annual family summer vacation.

Usually, I can accurately predict our vacation will be a disaster before we go.

For one thing, our vacations always involve lots of water even though we almost never go to the lake or beach. The water on our vacations comes in the form of rain, hail, sleet, tornadoes, hurricanes, and on alternate years, flooding.

Over the years, the Kukla family has taken a variety of vacations to any number of interesting places where we’ve been rained on. I’ve kept a journal of the jaunts and I would like to share the highlights from my vacation journals for you.

July, something (date washed away by rainwater).

We’ve gone on our first camping trip. So far, it’s rained all week. Kids are complaining that we brought them.

What’s worse is we forgot to put our collie “Jo” in the kennel again. Can’t get the smell of wet dog off us.

July something, something.

Bright sunny weather all the way to Myrtle Beach.  Spent the afternoon on the beach getting sun until the hurricane rolled in. North Carolina Governor has evacuated the coast. Spent the rest of our vacation at a tacky amusement park called “South of the Border” trying to toss waterlogged softballs into sombreros to win a prize.

(Everything but the number “11” obliterated by water)

We’ve gone off to Mammoth Caves, Kentucky, to explore the grandeur of these underground natural wonders.  As usual for our vacation, it’s rained the whole time in Kentucky, but for once, we were underground so no one cared.

The Mammoth Caves tour guide took us on enthralling walk through the wondrous caverns full of stalactites and stalagmites. Whenever the guide stopped and asked for questions, our son Jason asked, “Does Batman live here?” He asks the question 47 times and got the answer “No” 47 times.  For fun, Jason starts asking, “Where’s Robin?”

Our son Matthew disappears during the tour. After an hour search, we find him sleeping in one of the tunnels. Nathan pretended to fall down a “bottomless sinkhole” for laughs.  We become the first family ever banned from Mammoth Caves.

Rest of trip washed out by flooding.

(“A” something and a “t” still visible. Rest of entry destroyed) Here’s a summary.

Took family on fishing trip. Rained buckets. Fish drowned.

Roadtrip 2006

Went on a road trip to national historic sights on East coast. Plan to see Gettysburg, Washington, D.C., someplace where everyone wears colonial clothes and build things by hand, and also Busch Gardens.

We drove all night to avoid traffic. We have three drivers. Nate took the midnight to 3 a.m. shift on the Pennsylvania Turnpike while we sleep in the back of the van.

About 2 a.m. we wake to the sound of tires screeching and Nathan shouting, “Oh, my God, we’re going to die” as the van swerved back and forth on two wheels.

“What’s happening?” I scream.  He laughed. “Nothing. Just go back to sleep.”

No one sleeps the rest of the night.

July 14-20, 2014

Have come to Disney World in Orlando. Experienced no earthquakes or tidal waves along the way.  Weather is beautiful. Found free passes to the park and there are almost no crowds. We’re all enjoying ourselves thoroughly.

I think I’ve come with the wrong family.

— Myron Kukla

Myron Kukla is a professional journalist, writer and owner of the West Michigan-based marketing company WriteStuff.  Kukla is the author of two books of humor, Confessions of a Baby Boomer: Memories of Things I Haven’t Forgotten Yet and Guide to Surviving Life. He has also just published two ebooks on Amazon.com, Chomp and Something in the Blood.

Sharknado 2 still bites

Cavanaugh-donna-230x275Twitter was a flutter with Sharknado 2. And again, I have to say the film did deliver. I’m not sure what it delivered, but my guess would be comedy.

Let’s look at some of the highlights of this shark attack film.  If you didn’t yet watch the film, turn your eyes from this page as I will be revealing the plot and some of its finer points.

Ian Ziering returns in the hero role as does Tara Reid as his romantic and brave sidekick. We begin with the couple (divorced but the last sharknado — shark/tornado combo — romp brought them closer together and now they are trying to work things out. She is sporting her wedding rings again). Hey, I get that. He got swallowed by a shark last time and fortunately, he had a chain saw in his hands and was able to cut his way out of the belly. If that doesn’t inspire a couple to reconcile, I don’t know what will.

The movie begins with them on a flight from Los Angeles to New York. The flight is experiencing major turbulence as it flies through a thunderstorm. And as it was with the classic “Twilight Zone” episode where William Shatner sees a monster on the wing of his plane,  Ziering sees sharks spinning outside his window.  He thinks he is imagining them at first, but when one of the sharks gets caught in the engine of the plane and all hell breaks loose, he knows the flight is in danger. My first clue that there might  trouble was when a shark crashed through the plane at 30,000 feet causing a gaping hole which sucked people out and then proceeded to chomp the head off the flight attendant. Hey, subtlety is not lost on me.

Tara Reid is almost sucked out, too. As she is holding on to some kind of strap inside the plane, sharks start coming after her from the air because as we surmise, it’s another Sharknado. This couple cannot get a break!  A guy on the plane, who was either an air marshal or terrorist (I had to go to the bathroom so missed his ID), hands her his gun, and she is able to shoot the sharks while flapping in the wind and holding on with one hand to the aforementioned strap. Unfortunately, a shark bites off her gun hand, but luckily Ziering is in the cockpit and is landing the plane. I guess I should mention that the pilots are dead, too — victims of the flying fish.  I hope the Pilot’s Union pays attention to this. The plane lands, Tara Reid is rushed into surgery and do you know the most miraculous aspect of this experience? Her eyeliner remained totally unsmudged and her diamond earrings stayed in her ears.

Anyway, I am in awe of this flick as it had everything a moviegoer is looking for: family conflict, tons of cameo appearances by famous stars, special effects that include everything from the Statue of Liberty’s head flying through the streets of New York to Ziering being sucked up through a Sharknado where he is able to reel in a chain saw he sees fly by him. What are the chances of him finding two chain saws in two different movies?   With unbelievable presence of mind,  he jumps into a shark’s mouth and rips it to shreds with that chain saw all while spinning at 200 MPH. I almost wept at that scene. It was so poignant.

Remember Tara Reid’s missing hand? Well, after Ziering implodes the Sharknado with propane and Vivica Fox’s help (see below),  one of the killing fish bastards drops to the ground with Ziering and what does Ziering pull out of that shark’s body?  Are you ready? Tara Reid’s missing hand, and it still had her engagement ring on its little lifeless finger. Talk about gut-wrenching emotion. He  pulls the ring off the dead finger and gets down on one knee and places that ring on Tara’s right hand — you know the one still attached. Of course, they kiss and well, the people of NYC applaud with glee. So romantic, right?

Obviously, I have omitted quite a few scenes such as a shark attack at Citipark during a Mets’ game, the entire family conflict subplot, Vivica Fox’s role, which was pretty lame as the chick who pines for Ziering but finds comfort in the fact he is in love with someone else (Vivica was a little off in this flick. I wouldn’t peg her as a worship-from-afar type of gal. She’s more of a “I’ll make you disappear for messing with my man” type of gal), and last but not least, the incredible acting performances of Al Roker, Matt Lauer, Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan.

Those who like sharks flying through the air and decapitating people will love this flick. I have to wonder if this movie is supposed to be just another shark flick or are there lessons to be learned such as:

• Lend a hand — you’ll probably get one back in the end.

• Take it from the guy in Texas, chain saws are a good choice of weaponry.

• Good jewelry can survive anything; don’t buy the cheap stuff.

• News anchors should never do comedy.

• Sharks can even make a Mets game seem exciting.

— Donna Cavanagh

Donna Cavanagh, who was part of the 2014 EBWW faculty, is a humor entrepreneur and founder of HumorOutcasts.com, an online humor magazine that features the work of more than 100 writers, screenwriters, filmmakers, actors and stand up comics.  She is also founder of HumorOutcasts Press/Shorehouse Books and is co-host of Write Out Loud for the URBusiness Network.  A veteran journalist who detoured into humor writing, Donna considers humor as “our best weapon against the challenges of today’s world.” Her books include Life on the Off Ramp, which was a finalist in the USA Books Contest, Try and Avoid the Speed Bumps, and her latest, A Canine’s Guide to the Good Life.

Today I fired my BFF

Vikki ClaflinI recently read an interesting article about self-talk and the things we say to ourselves every day. Apparently, therapists generally agree that if Hubs or a friend spoke to us the way we speak to ourselves, we’d kick them to the curb right freaking now (okay, I paraphrased).

The writer pointed out that since the person we spend the most time with every day is, well, us, that’s where most of our personal feedback comes from. A co-worker who remarks, “Gee, that skirt is a little tight for the office, don’t you think?” doesn’t do near as much damage to our self-esteem as an all-day inner mantra, repeatedly chanting to ourselves, “Yep, you’re still fat.”

The brain believes what it’s told, so it’s critical that we become aware of the constant barrage of judgmental, belittling “truths” that we unconsciously tell ourselves all day long. In short, we should never talk to ourselves in a way we’d never tolerate from someone else. We need to be our own biggest cheerleaders. Our own best friends.

She suggested an experiment where you journal your conversations with yourself over the course of a day, to see what kind of a friend you are to you. Here’s what I found. (Meet my inner voice, “BBF,” or Bad Best Friend):

1. The morning weigh-in:
Me: “Staying down where it should. This isn’t so hard.”
BBF:  “Yeah, since you haven’t eaten dinner in a week. You won’t last. If you had that kind of control, you wouldn’t have been a Teletubby in the first place. Same time tomorrow, Porkchop.”

2. Out of the shower, naked inspection:
Me: “Not bad for 57. With the right clothes, a push-em-up bra and Spanx, I could still work it.”
BBF: “You’re kidding, right? Then what’s that on the back of your thighs? See it, right between your legs? That’s it, bend over and look upside down between your thighs, and tell me what you see. Yep, it’s your sagging butt cheeks. They evidently thought your boobs looked lonely, so they joined them on the Gravity Express. Still feel like ‘working it’?”

3. Blow-drying my hair:
Me (holding up blow dryer): “My triceps need a little toning. Maybe I’ll get one of those Shake Weights.”
BBF: “Yeah, that’ll work. If you’re 12. That wobbling skin under your arms is called ‘turkey waddle,’ and it’s only sexy on poultry. Now you’ll be wearing long sleeves in July, just like all the other middle-aged grandmothers in the park.”

4. Make-up:
Me: “My skin looks pretty good. Must be good genes. A little tinted moisturizer to smooth it out, and I’m ready to go.”
BBF: “Who are you kidding?? You’ve had an eye job and Botox, and you still have a L.A. road map around your eyes. And is that a chin hair I see??”

5. Getting dressed:
Me: “This dress would look better over Spanx, but it’s too hot, so not today. I look fine.”
BBF: “Yeah, if your definition of ‘fine’ is a middle-aged woman with ass-jiggle when she’s standing still. No Spanx, no dress, lady.”

6. Career:
Me: “Got to get to work. But someday I’m going to make a living by writing.”
BBF: “Dream on, baby. So far, you’ve only impressed your mother and an ex-boyfriend from high school, class of 1974. And if you ever do actually write a book, your mother is going to expect a free copy. Don’t quit your day job, you hack.”

7. Dieting:
Me: “I’m going to lose two pounds this week. I’m committed. Where’s the produce department?”
BBF: “Yeah, how would you know? You haven’t eaten a vegetable in, like, 57 years. And you might want to take the econo-size box of Milk Duds, three frozen pizzas, Brown Cow Diet (seriously??) ice cream sandwiches, Doritos Fire Chips, two cans of bean dip, and the six bottles of wine out of your cart. You on a diet?? Bahahahaha!”

8. Shopping:
Me: “That bikini in the boutique window is so cute. I remember those days.”
BBF: “Oh, please. You couldn’t wear that in high school. Why do you think your parents always called you the ‘wholesome one’? Get a clue, Blondie. That wasn’t a compliment.”
Me: “Fine, but look at that rockin’ black leather jacket. Ooh, I could definitely do that.”
BBF: “Absolutely, if you’re going for aging, rock band groupie. Why don’t you just buy a leopard print miniskirt and a T-shirt that says ‘I used to be hot’?”

9. Grandkids:
Me: “I wish we lived closer to the kids so I could see them more often.”
BBF: “Yeah, I’ll bet that’s what they’re thinking, too. ‘Gee, we wish Mom was here every day, so she could be all up our business and give us lots of advice on how we spend our money and how to raise our kids. That would be way cool.’”

10. Out and About:
Me: “That delightful young man behind the counter is smiling at me.”
BBF: (Snort) “Uh, look behind you. See that hot 20-something blonde gazelle in the cropped top? I’m betting it was her, not you. Besides, you could be that boy’s mother and not have been a child bride, if you get my drift. Guys that flirt with you aren’t called ‘guys.’ They’re called ‘seniors’ and they carry AARP cards, not backpacks.”

11. Dinner:
Me: “No, I’m not going to eat dinner tonight. If I have more than a Fruit Loop and a Diet Coke after 5 p.m., my weight goes up. But I’m disciplined. I’ll pass tonight.”
BBF: “Ha. By the second glass of wine, you’ll be hitting the Pringles hard. Admit defeat now, snarf down that pizza, and kick yourself in the morning, like every morning, Chubs.”

12. Writing:
Me: “Time to create a brand-new post. I can do this. I’m funny. Really, I am.”
BBF: “Maybe you were funny at one time, but that ship has sailed. You have no funny stories left. You’ve told them all. Face it. You’re not funny anymore. And you’re 57. Get out now. You need a new craft, and you’re not getting any younger.”

It seems that my inner best friend is kind of a bitch.

That night, I sent her a text. “Dear Bad Best Friend, You know this friendship thing? You suck at it. So get on down the road with your judgmental, mean-girl self, because I’m dumping your ass. When you can say “Good morning, Gorgeous” without rolling your eyes and snorting, we’ll discuss reconciliation possibilities. Until then, I will no longer consult you on any matters pertaining to my worth.”

I feel more confident already. And now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a fabulous black leather jacket that’s calling my name.

— Vikki Claflin

Oregon writer Vikki Claflin writes the popular humor blog, Laugh Lines. Two recent pieces have been published in Life Well Blogged: Parenting Gag Reels — Hilarious Writes and Wrongs: Take 26. In 2014, she received a BlogHer Voice of the Year award for humor.

Reflections of Erma