Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Princess and the Pooped; or, Where’s the Rocking Chair?

During crazy decades of potty training, play practices and proms, I fantasized about being a grandma — a wise, all-knowing woman in a rocking chair, hands folded.

When a sweet baby girl made me a for-real grandma, I was ready. Had I not raised three children? I envisioned cuddling my princess while Mommy rested and laundry folded itself.

But by royal decree, our princess declared sleep illegal.

Then, the privileged pets refused to abdicate. One cat, also fruitful and multiplying, nursed five kittens in the bathroom because two male cats opposed the population explosion. Mama Cat growled when I dared enter. Her offspring, armed with sharp little claws and teeth, represented Mama’s Royal Guard.

The dragon-sized family dog, Toffi, considered me her grandma, too, sitting on my lap. Toffi guarded the new baby zealously, barking at potential threats — like oxygen.

So our princess slept even less. Toffi and I stayed at the park, where she protected the kingdom from wicked squirrels.

Every new grandmother dreams of such tender times.

Then elderly relatives called. Could they come by?

My daughter and I hyperventilated. These lovely people did not allow microbes in their home, much less eight cats and Droolius Rex!

“Stall them at the door!” I tied Toffi outside. Maybe she’d bark herself and the neighbors into a coma.

Our visitors would need restroom breaks. I shuddered.

The older cats ambushed me, but I shooed them out the back door and hid the litter box. As I swept up used litter, kittens fastened onto me like baby piranhas. I had just freed my ankles when our relatives called cheery hellos.

I closed the kittens into a bedroom, soaked the bathroom with Lysol and tried not to bleed.

Fortunately, the visitors were enamored with our princess. They looked a hundred years younger than I felt. Maybe I would achieve sanity when I became a great-grandparent?

“How’s the rocking chair, Grandma?” They grinned at me and headed toward the bathroom.

My daughter’s jaw dropped, but no cats attacked. No kitty litter jitters ensued. Our visitors sniffed approvingly at sanctifying Lysol before shutting the door.

After a pleasant visit, they planted good-bye kisses on the baby’s head to avoid bestowing germs. They didn’t know Toffi already had introduced her to several million.

Our princess gurgled. I looked into her blue, blue eyes. I loved being a grandma, though my first week aged me 20 years.

Cuddling her, I sank into a rocking chair. At last.

Now, after years of grandmahood, I’ve learned something about my predecessors. If they ever folded their hands, it was in prayer.

Grandmas, you rock!


OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: The Morning After

Oh, my God, I’m starting this week tired. But this weariness results from absorbing joyous primal screams and tackle-hugs of grandsons. The panting ecstasy of pillow fights. Chasing a giggling grandbaby up and down stairs. OMG, when You’ve given blessings like this, who needs energy?

Time Warp at the Movies

Bearing a laundry-sized bucket of popcorn, my husband and I seek Theater Number Six. There we hope to watch a movie without expletives, explosions and/or exhibitionism. It’s even rumored to have a plot.

“For once, we might have enough popcorn — even for you.” He opens the door. But the early showing has not ended. “Must be running late.”

We wander back to the megaplex’s lobby, where the glass décor exudes all the friendly warmth of the ice palace in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Maybe we shouldn’t have stopped on our way home from Chicago.

I sigh. “Theaters aren’t what they used to be.”

“Not exactly the Crump,” Steve agrees.

He often saw movies like Swiss Family Robinson or 101 Dalmations at the venerable Crump Theater in Columbus, Indiana, our childhood movie mecca.

Admission for five kids cost $1.75, so movies were a rare treat for my family. However, when the Crump’s dusty velvet curtains parted, the big screen took me to a magic universe where a giant Hayley Mills played both twins in The Parent Trap. Or I cowered against a worn, springy seat as the roaring Red Sea split before Charlton Heston’s staff.

In later years, we teens appreciated the Crump’s semi-private balcony. …

“This movie starts at 4:40.” Steve rushes us to Number Six.

I brighten. “Maybe we won’t have to endure Movie Trivia!”

In the dim quiet, I study our distinctive popcorn-eating techniques. Steve selects 10 kernels, tasting them one by one, as if eating hors d’oeuvres.

I come from a survival tradition that resembles filling a beanbag chair.

The screen lights up: What was the name of Liz Taylor’s first husband’s dog? Sigh. No reprieve from Movie Trivia.

A Top 40 hit rumbles through the speakers.

I try to comprehend the lyrics. “Is he singing about orange gerbils in Congress?”

Bored out of our bunions, we cave to Movie Trivia. In which movie did John Wayne play a horse? In Star Wars V, how many hairs stuck out of Yoda’s ears? Such monumental issues consume more time than we realize. The popcorn is history, and trivia questions begin to make sense.

At this alarming state of affairs, my husband glares at his watch. “Forty-five minutes late!” He thunders out the door.

Steve returns and asks, “Where are we?”

Does he think life is one big trivia question? “Movie theater. In Merrillville, Indiana.”

Merrillville—in the Central time zone.”

“You mean—”

“We came an hour early.”

An even more dismal thought occurs. Steve and I sat in an empty theater an hour and thought of nothing better to do than count Yoda’s ear hairs.

Have we changed that much since our Crump balcony days?

The Love Trials

valentine-636834_640In 1998, a rabbi promoting marriage among Jewish singles conceived the idea of speed dating, now practiced globally. Interested parties sign up for several round robin dates of three to eight minutes. Most of us spend more time selecting sides at Wendy’s.

Even if positive vibes result, many more check-’em-out dates will be required to truly know each other. So, wouldn’t it be wonderful if those longing for true love could detect losers and schmoozers in one day?

Ta-da! My revolutionary concept, Love Trials, cuts to the chase. This scientific approach will benefit all humankind, plus make me a few million dollars. Each participating couple will know whether they have found their soul mates after five short sessions in which they:

 Trial #1: Pack a suitcase. The girl and guy are given one small bag. Not one each – one. She does her best, but it only holds a weekend’s supply of lipsticks. And is he really going to wear that?

 Trial #2: Visit a buffet with one plate. When a woman’s baby spinach salad vies for space with the guy’s giant nachos topped with five pounds of bacon, she may reconsider. His passion may cool, too, when she doesn’t want his food touching hers.

Trial #3: Dig a car out of a snowdrift. Even without the debate as to who should have listened to whom about road conditions, speed and directions, this trial proves invaluable in unmasking polite claims of gender equality. She dubs him the stronger; therefore, he should push. He thumbs his nose at her so-called dedication to equal rights and claims superior judgment in rocking and rolling out of the predicament.

Trial #4: Hang wallpaper. Participants ask themselves: Do they really want to pledge their lives to someone who can’t distinguish a rectangle from a trapezoid? Who glues his thumbs permanently to his ears? Future wedding pictures are at stake.

Trial #5: Buy each other a $10 gift. She purchases an extra-long towel and embroiders his darling baby-in-the-bath picture on it (winning his mother over). He buys her a heavy- duty ice scraper.

Have the starry-eyed lovers fled the scene? If not, do they still speak to each other? (Grunts count. So do weepy “how could you!”s)

Light up a huge neon Congratulations! sign. Release the balloons and confetti!

In the Love Trials, if he and she have not escaped to Mars and Venus respectively, a relationship with a real, live human being has begun. Break out the chocolates, flowers, music and romance! This couple can celebrate true love until the next great Love Trial:

Planning a wedding.

What tried-and-true Love Trial would you suggest for my list?

This Was for My Health?

DCF 1.0

We’ve all heard word trios that drop on our heads like clusters of miniature anvils. You are overdrawn. The IRS called. What’s our deductible?

But the three words on my adult college registration eclipsed them all.

Dress for exercise. Dress for exercise?

“Lifetime Physical Awareness is required for everybody,” my college adviser insisted.

“But I’m already aware,” I whined. “My knees crack and I injured my back reading the newspaper. Why should I throw away perfectly good money to find out what I already know?—my abs of steel are flabs I conceal.

“I refuse to play soccer with 18-year-olds.” I crossed my arms. “Those people think varicose veins are a new rock band.”

I couldn’t change her mind.

At first, I felt encouraged. Our instructor, a Nice Young Man (over-50 translation for Hunk), prayed for our health and well-being. A Christian college has its advantages; I could use divine help, especially since one glance told me I was at least ten years older than any of my co-sufferers.

He prayed, his voice full of understanding and compassion.

Then he proceeded to kill me.

“Okay, let’s hit the weight room!”

I stared at one of the machines.

It smirked back at me. Deep in its shiny metal innards, it knew the truth: to me, heaven presents no mystery, compared to the incomprehensible operation of any and all machines. But I refused to be defeated by a lower species. I grasped the machine’s cold, skeletal limbs and yanked them toward my chest. The machine fought back, but with grim determination, I conquered my opponent.

I had nearly completed a whole set when the instructor interrupted me. Would I please stop wrestling with the equipment rack?

He stuck close to me after that, introducing me one by one to various torture devices:  machines that bent my biceps, pulled my pectorals, decreased my height, reversed my elbow direction. I lay on the floor panting, my tongue hanging out.

“Can you believe it?” I asked my adviser later, after describing my brush with death by machinery. “To top it all off, we spent the last class session talking about managing stress. I’ll tell you about stress. Taking ‘Slow Execution 101.’”

My adviser looked up from her schedule of classes. “You’re mistaken,” she said. “That course is required next semester.”