Roller Derby

I went to Costco today for the first time.

Everybody raves about Costco but I’ve resisted joining figuring I was done with the world of Big Food when my kids grew up and left home. I used to go to Sam’s Club and buy vast quantities of pasta and lemon pepper. I still have the lemon pepper I bought there fifteen years ago and, yes, it still smells nice and lemony and peppery. I take it out just to sniff now and then, reminiscing, I guess, about life when I thought lemon pepper would be so swell to have around.

I remember buying a giant jar of pickles, a jar so big you had to hug it to bring it in the house. My younger daughter was crazy about pickles then so I bought it for her, her own personal jar, but then we had a big fight about her not putting the jar away and I picked it up, hugging it like a toddler, all the way outside where I heaved the sucker, pickles and all, into the trash. So my memories of steroided food are not all great. That said, as they say, I took my friends’ advice to “go to Costco” when I told them we were having a candidate fundraiser at our house tonight.

“Get a deli platter! It’s cheap! And easy! And so lovely.”

So I tooled out to the far suburbs this morning, all set to pick up a deli platter and maybe a fruit platter or a veggie platter, too, but when I got to the deli counter there was a wooden box with a slit in the top. “Put your deli platter order here.” There was a stack of forms and a bunch of short stubby pencils. Huh?

“So how long does it take to get a deli platter?” I asked the woman behind the counter who was washing her hands and looking at her hair in the mirror over the sink.

“24 hours.”

I was stunned. Incredulous. I don’t have 24 hours! I wanted to say. But I just said “crap!” and started pushing my cart in circles around the giant boxes of strawberries. Panic is the enemy. Panic is the enemy. A frequent recitation of mine, this time it was true. I needed to stay calm. Think about how to construct my own deli platter which, over the course of 10,000 years, I have done plenty of times. But in Costco, the task seemed gargantuan.

I bought sliced cheese and salami, both in huge double packs, a box of crackers with six boxes of crackers inside, a stack of three containers of olives, which I bought because it had such a cute handle, and then I bought a forty-pound bag of pita chips and enough hummus to pave the way back to the Middle East. I moved on to fruit.

I bought a box of eight freak kiwis that were yellow and not green inside, I don’t know why, and two perfectly round watermelons roped together in netting which made them easier to carry, like you could sling them over your shoulder like a baby or over your arm like a purse, the cleverness of it impressed me but I didn’t need two watermelons which quickly became beside the point. The clock was ticking.

I bought a river of blueberries, a basketful of raspberries, and fat strawberries, all in big plastic containers suitable for housing a hamster family. And then I decided I should get some nuts so I could have little dishes of nuts surprising people when they sat down in various places. I always like a lot of nuts so this seemed like a deluxe idea to me.

Except the nuts were in bags larger than my backpack. There were no small nuts. Jesus, I thought, I’ve got to get out of here. Then I looked down and saw that I’d bought a bin of small chocolate chip cookies which were sitting on top of the trough of big chocolate chip cookies and, realizing I’d forgotten the one when I got the other, I looked for a place to stow the bin but I was standing amidst the khaki pants at the time so I walked, like the little rule-observant nerd that I am, all the way back to the bakery to put them in the right place.

And then I got to the check-out where the guy rat-a-tat-tatted at me like we were in some big contest with the other check-out lines, like Step on it, Sister! and then the card reader rejected my card. Yeah. Can you imagine, after all I’d been through? The cashier shuffled his feet and stared at me. I was killing his time, you know. So I came up with a Plan B which worked miraculously but will be tomorrow’s panic. It was a rough first day at Costco is all I’ll say, my foray back into the land of Big Food has left me weak and overwhelmed with watermelon. Take me home to Trader Joe’s.

Deflated

Here’s the question of the day. What is the deal with chewing gum and having gas?

When did this start being a thing?

I mean I’m so dainty and so not wanting to look like some 1930’s gum-smacking dame hanging on Jimmy Cagney’s arm that I only chew a half a stick of Trident at a time. Discreet, I tell you. You could barely tell I’m chewing, I’m like a Texan who moves to New York but still keeps a wee chaw tucked in his beautifully-shaven cheek. Chaw? What chaw?

It took me days to figure out the connection. First there was the puffing up, so bad that I had to lay flat to zip up my beloved insulated skirt so I could be warm and hip at the Iditarod and then the zipper bit into my side like an open pair of scissors. What the goddamn hell? I thought. What is making me so pillowy?

And then, well, there were the consequences, only some of which I heard because, as you know, I’m hearing impaired. If a tree falls in the forest and only one hand is clapping does it still make a noise? I’m not sure but maybe. I acted as though I didn’t hear it regardless. I never acknowledge bodily faux pas. I learned that in 2nd grade. Look elsewhere. Always look elsewhere. A passing child, your companion, a distant bird.

So today I embarked on an experiment to determine if it was, in fact, chewing gum that was causing my puffery – all forms of it – and it seems to be true. No gum all day and I am now svelte and silent. I could model ballet tights, I am so sleek. But I am longing for a toothpick or a cigarette or maybe a No. 2 pencil. No gum, at least not while I’m traveling with a companion. It’s a bummer that now I can only chew gum when I am somewhere alone, by myself for days, wearing a muumuu. That’s what it’s come to.

 

 

Proper Anxiety Attire

My anxiety today is so huge and weighty and so very, very present that I’m thinking of giving it a birth name and its own gym membership.

I’m not focusing on not having anxiety because that would mean getting more anxious trying to figure out why I’m anxious and doing that just feeds into the thinking that if I can figure out why I’m anxious, I would stop being anxious. As if it’s all a game of what’s wrong with this picture? And I can never find the wrong thing in the picture, the parrot’s wing or whatnot, that is really a fish’s fin or is upside down and it becomes crazy-making which we don’t want because anxiety is plenty enough to have.

It’s better just to put my anxiety on like a hat and just wear it all day. The key thing, though, is to make sure the hat I select is pretty nondescript. Anxiety reflex points me to the closest snood or a combo of a Jackie pillbox and thick black veil. Such headgear would elicit questions.

Why are you anxious?

I don’t want questions because the answer is always “nothing” which is unsatisfactory and seems secretive even when it isn’t.

I also don’t want to infect anyone else with my anxiety which I believe is not only infectious but highly contagious. It makes matters worse if my severely-hatted self makes other people anxious. And it can happen. It’s like I’m the only one who knows we’re about to have a nuclear war but I’m not telling anyone but they’re guessing that must be what’s happening. I’m telling you anxiety can spread like fucking typhoid.

So I’m just going to sit here with my nondescript hat, hum a little, look out the window at the dog peeing across the street, mind my own business, and wait for it to pass, float on down the block to the next house, and tie someone new in knots for a day or two. I’m patient that way.


99 New: Animal Planet

There were really only two options. Weird, because I have a lot of underwear, practical stuff, not fancy, I’m all about comfort. So there was the black cotton underwear which kind of choked off circulation to my legs the last time I tried them and then there was the giant leopard print ‘briefs’ as they are so oddly called, bought when I was a lot heavier chick. I was going to the dermatologist for a whole body skin check so she was going to be peering into my underwear. I should make it easy for her, I figured, so I put on the leopard granny pants, jeans, and a hoodie and set off.

The nurse handed me a robe, reminding me to take everything off except my panties. Not sure if my leopard print number qualified as panties, shouldn’t panties be silky or lacy or scanty? These panties could be used to wax the car.

She turned to leave. “And oh, I should tell you. Doctor has a scribe training with her today.”

“A scribe?” Who has a scribe? Ben Franklin? Did Ben Franklin have a scribe? Or was he a scribe? What did he do before he started working his way up?

She cocked her head and raised her eyebrows. “And, he’s a man.” Oh great, a man scribe is going to be joining us. Saying no seemed older than my pants. So I did as she said and sat on the examining table to wait.The doctor knocked and came in first. She was young, blond, wearing a lab coat and sneakers. Her scribe followed, clad in a plaid shirt and dark khakis. He could have been a clerk in a sporting goods store.

For someone poking around people’s bodies with a magnifying glass, the doctor was surprisingly jolly. She started with my scalp and worked her way down, dabbing a searing concoction on all the little pre-cancers she found, two on my eyebrow, one on my arm, a tiny one on my chest, and then she dropped the front of the gown and lifted each breast up. The sun never shone there I wanted to tell her but she lingered not. The scribe, sitting behind me at the little doctor desk, could be heard tapping a keyboard, making note, I guess, of the location of every errant spot.

The doctor was a great chatter. She joked about needing to use her bare hands to feel where cancers might be starting even though her husband urged her to wear gloves. Seems she once examined a guy with syphilis and accidentally touched his sore or rash or whatever it is, something she said had never before happened in the clinic, and then her husband got all weirded out and wanted her to wear gloves. I don’t know if that was all the time or just in the clinic.

Anyway, she continued onward or downward actually, checking both legs next and then when she was finished thigh to toes, she said, “Okay, get up and stand facing that wall.”

As I did, the robe, left untied in the back as instructed, unfurled. I stood still while the doctor took her magnifying glass first down one leg and then the other. And it slowly dawned on me. The scribe is looking at my giant leopard print underwear. 

I kept my dignity though. Not everyone would, but I did. Because, you know, I’m a person of substance, never mind my underwear. But I won’t forget that a scribe saw my panties, as they say, and I bet he won’t either.

Dressed Down

I bought a dress online, a long black summer dress that I thought would make me look earthy and graceful. Dresses are foreign to me but I keep trying, like all the years I kept going back to Spanish classes thinking this next time I would become completely bilingual. Buenos dias!

The dress, so chic and classy in the photo, could double as an emergency tent. It’s that voluminous and heavy. Maybe it’s water repellent, I don’t know. It’s a lot of dress, folds and folds of black with a high elasticized waist. It makes me look like a yak herder’s widow on her way to milk the yaks. So I stuffed the dress in the back of my closet in case there’s a war or something where I need to cloak myself, you know, and dash from building to building unseen in the dark.

The other dress I bought online was because, on the model, the skirt was twirling. It looked merry and carefree and I thought ‘that could be me!’ When it came, I stripped down and tried it on.  Oh Lord. it was my grandmother, Millie. Millie in her triple D cups, the belt of her dress cinched tight five inches north of her waist, her skirt flared as she stepped back from putting her potato salad on the picnic table. Just potatoes and eggs and onions and some mayo, just enough to hold it together, to pack it like a snowball in case there’s a fight with other folks at the park.

Today, in my weeks-long effort to clear my office of twenty-five years of projects, photos, kids’ homework, and tax files, I found this incredibly accurate drawing of me done by my granddaughter. You’ll notice I am a mermaid, wearing a slight pink bra, my long blond hair gathered not once but twice by black ties. I have green fins and the world’s bluest eyes, saucers of eyes, because clearly I am happy. I am smiling. Who wouldn’t be? It’s the perfect outfit.

How we see ourselves, how others see us, how much we think about this or don’t. We love the times when we don’t think about it and that’s usually because we are being safe and timid in what we’re wearing. Camouflaged by the safe. I want to change that, break out of taupe, eschew my rivers of pants, twirl a little. I yearn to go milk the herd with flair and style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Girl Aboard

Two nights ago I had a dream about being on a ship that was sinking. I was in the ship’s movie theater, sitting in a velvet seat, watching I don’t remember what, and the ship’s sirens went off (I’ve never heard a ship’s sirens but imagined them to be much like the sirens in the Poseidon) and then worried I’d have to be like Shelly Winters and swim underwater for painfully long minutes and finally expire from a heart attack before sinking with the ship and resting forever at the bottom of the sea, the film slowly unraveling from the reel floating nearby.

I’m going on a cruise tomorrow. It’s my first one.

I have questions:

  1. Why don’t people wear life preservers all the time on a cruise? If we were on a speedboat in Lake Insignificant, we would be suited up. Safety first!
  2. What is the deal with spouses mysteriously falling overboard? I’m not with my spouse so no worries about me in particular. But is it that easy to just fall off the boat? That’s concerning.
  3. Will I have the guts to fight for a seat on the lifeboat? What if I have to elbow a young mother with a babe in arms? Do I have it in me?
  4. Could there be a mutiny?

I’m not anxious, I’m just asking.

My friend got a free cruise for two and invited me to come along. I’m not keen on the idea of going on a cruise, mostly because of the problem of not being able to get off if I don’t like it. It’s like going on an endless plane ride. You’re in the tube, you have to stay in the tube.

I like traveling in a car or, better yet, a truck. You can stop and go. It’s hard to fall out. There are air bags. And scarcity is not an issue. There are always more seats in our truck than there are passengers. Thank heaven.

But I want to do it. I want to be a cruiser. I want to wear a big hat and sit in a deck chair reading a novel. Swim in a pool on a big boat in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Walk the deck in the moonlight and see the ship’s lights shining on the water. I want to eat and talk and laugh with my old friend. And celebrate having this time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo by Linval Ebanks on Unsplash

Mane Event

Somehow, during the commercial break, a good-sized chunk of mascara fell from the guest commentator’s eyelashes and landed on her upper cheek. It wasn’t enormous but it was noticeable, about the size of dwarf Tic-Tac.

The interviewer pretended not to notice, looking straight into her eyes, never for a second letting his gaze wander to the brown-black speck on her cheek. Oh, I know that trick. I’ve ignored really preposterous things going on with people I was talking to in the interest of what? I’m not sure. Avoidance of embarrassment? Whose embarrassment? Am I embarrassed to point out things that should embarrass other people?

When the guest commentator goes home and watches the tape of her experience, she will wonder why the interviewer didn’t brush his cheek in a secret signal to get rid of the mascara lump. She will curse her mascara and wonder why she has bought the same kind since she was 16. After all, a woman of her position should really have moved up on the make-up front by now.

If she is like me, she will remember the humiliation of this event until she is on her deathbed. She will say to her devoted daughter, “Please, get the make-up remover from the bathroom and take off my mascara lest it clump and litter itself all over my dead face.”

But, alas, no one is like me. Other people are not bothered by these things; they see these tiny accidents as inconsequential in the larger order of things. Laughable. They consider a mascara clump on one’s cheek during a national broadcast as just the cost of doing business. This is what happens to heavily made-up, important people.

Once at a big meeting, a staff person came up to me and said, making rubbing motions on her cheeks, “Go like this.” I looked at her, baffled. “Your blush or whatever it is is kind of in streaks.” I laughed heartily and thanked her. Ho, ho, ho! So humorous! And then started dying what would turn out to be a thousand deaths reliving my speech given just moments before. All that time that I thought people were so rapt, they were just looking at my stripes.

Writing about it gives me chills, even now.

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Photo by Lisa H on Unsplash