Can You Come Outside and Play With Me?

Image by Lars Plöger from Pixabay

Do Not Pass Go!

 

Invisible enemy? Nah. Think of me as a worthy opponent in a daring game.
But remember that if (when?) you lose, you’ll only have yourself to blame.

Play me in ‘Chess’ — I’m always just a few moves ahead.
“Checkmate!” Look again. Perhaps your Queen is dead?

Or accept my challenge for the WhoDunnit board game called ‘Clue.’
I Killed Miss Scarlet, the Ventilator’s the weapon, the location? ICU.

Or let’s pretend stating fun facts in ‘Trivial Pursuit’ is more your style?
Silly questions about TP and pursuing it in the empty paper products aisle.

Wait! ‘Monopoly’ you say? Now there’s a game where you’re sure to excel.
Yet I own Boardwalk and Park Place, and landing on New York will be hell.

But no worries, I always distribute plenty of ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards,
After all, we can’t have all those pedophiles infecting your prison guards.

Switching to ‘Sorry’ or ‘Trouble?’ I land on you, sending you to home base.
New rule! Lose your turn indefinitely—we’ll just call it ‘Sheltering in Place.’

We can even combine two kiddie games, ‘Guess Who?’ and ‘Connect Four.’
But you can bet the mystery person is asymptomatic and someone you adore.

Brave enough for the classic war game ‘Battleship’ after the hand you’re dealt?
First you might wanna assist your navy’s own aircraft carrier, The Roosevelt.

Give ‘Pictionary’ a try, you can sketch a pretty model or draw a clever chart.
I’m the shrewd virus your educated scientists will ultimately need to outsmart.

Assuming their data can break my code and ‘Mastermind’ new vaccines?
Or just prescribe Clorox … Cuz that’s what being a true Quack means.

Make no mistake, I can ‘Scrabble’ your body and ‘Boggle’ your brain,
So feel free to exclaim, “Yahtzee!” in-between all your grief and pain.

But my absolute favorite is a good old fashioned round of ‘Hide n’ Seek.’
Stay safely inside your house to protect the elderly, sick, and weak.

Until I strategically shout “Olly Olly Oxen Free! C’mon out wherever you are!”
And your politicians encourage you to comply, which honestly is so bizarre.

Then just like Child’s Play, our game will be over before it’s ever really begun,
Clearly the winner is me…COVID-19! I’m the last one standing and having fun!

© April 2020 by Coronavirus

Your Pen Name Could be Leading an Exciting Secret Life of its Own!

Some of you might think “Little Miss Menopause” IS my actual pen name. And to those people I’d calmly ask, “What are you, nuts?!?” That’s simply a regretful silly title I chose for myself many years ago when I first began blogging and thought I should brand myself with something cutesie. Little did I know I’d box myself into hot flash humor. Forever. Sigh.

But when I first started getting other work published “in the real world” (and didn’t want family and friends to be able to see some of my more uh… “unique topics” if they googled me) I made up a Pen Name to hide behind.

That’s right. Back then I opened a new email account under the name ‘Samantha Stratton’ and submitted things authored under that name to various publishers. ‘Samantha’ because that was supposed to be my given birth name until the show Bewitched became wildly popular when my mother was in her last days of pregnancy and she feared people would tease me about being a witch, taunting me to twitch my nose to make them disappear. And ‘Stratton’ because who knows? I like alliteration. Or I felt sorry for the murdered playboy bunny Dorothy Stratten, but misspelled her last name? Or I always had a thing for Stratton mountain in Vermont? Honestly, who knows!

The point is eventually I chose another better Pen Name (And I’m not telling you what!) and disregarded ‘Samantha Stratton,’ for good. But I forgot to delete her email account.

When I became single again and decided to try online dating, I made my profile at Match and Plenty of Fish, but when it came time to correspond with men, I of course signed my messages to them by my name — “Stephanie.” However I didn’t want strange guys writing to me at my normal email address because I preferred them not knowing my true last name. At least not right off the bat — I suspected from that, they could easily obtain my address and other personal information and who knows what they might do. So which account did I send dating emails from? You guessed it. Unbeknownst to me, (because I have a menopausal mush mind memory and forgot about the discarded pen name) my emails were landing in their email box from a ‘Samantha Stratton.’ Let’s just say “Ms. Stratton” was inadvertently reborn.

Fast forward to what was supposed to be a nice walk in the park with a potential someone. “You must be Michael,” I said as we hugged hello. “And you are Stephanie, of course, heh heh,” he said with an obvious sly wink. Weird.

As we ambled toward the beach, he asked if I preferred him calling me by the nickname Sam or Sammie? “Neither,” I said, thinking that’s a strange choice to give someone named Stephanie. But I ignored it. Later he inquired if I was a big fan of Saturday Night Fever? I held my breath hoping he was not about to break into a Travolta famous dance pose right there on the sand or confess his penchant for white three-piece suits.

Then he mentioned how interesting it is that I would choose to be called Stephanie when other Stephanies go by Lady Gaga and Stevie Nicks.

“Okay, WHAT??” I finally turned to him in exasperation. “I did not choose Stephanie. That IS my given name. I AM Stephanie.”

“No problem, Stephanie. You can be Stephanie all you want. Your secret is safe with me, Samantha Stratton,” he said conspiratorially.

Okay, now we were getting somewhere! And I knew exactly how to sort out this strange mix-up. Once I explained to him that Samantha Stratton was a pen name for my writing that I forgot was linked to my email account, a lightbulb went off in his head and he excused himself to use the bathroom.

When he returned he acted extremely humbled and impressed by me. There was talk of working in Hollywood and questions about double axels, forward crossovers, and spirals . More confused than ever, I begged off the date with an excuse that my cats needed to be fed and headed home to Google my old pen name.

Well Ms. Samantha Stratton really got her act together since I adopted her name so many years ago. Apparently she’d recently risen to fame as the creator/writer of a new Netflix show called “Spinning Out” about professional ice-skating. In fact Samantha Stratton herself used to be a high-level figure skater for twelve years and based a lot of it on her own life.

Oy! Michael is gonna be very disappointed when on our second date, I confess I’m actually just plain old ‘Little Miss Menopause.’

To top it all off, I accidentally left this old Pen Name email account open so when I suddenly realized it had been ages since I’d written my mother, I guiltily fired off a quick hello and clicked ‘send.’

Immediately my cellphone rang.

Me: Hya Ma!

My Mother: So you decided you liked Samantha better and changed your name? And nobody thinks to inform their mother??

Me: I didn’t, Mom. I was just trying to hide some stuff I wrote from you and the rest of the family. So I invented a pen name. You know, a pseudonym.

I could hear furious typing on her keyboard as she clucked her tongue reproachfully.

My Mother: So you’re keeping it to yourself that you’re a big shot in the television industry, huh? So your father and I should continue paying for your car insurance!

Great. Who has time for this much explanation? I’ll just ignore her with silence.

My Mother: Hello? Hello? Whadya do, Samantha? Twitch your nose and make me disappear??

Did I remember Travolta’s dance partner was named “Stephanie” in Saturday Night Fever? No, but apparently my date did.

Readers: Do you have a Pen Name? How did you pick it? What intrigue do they have going on you might not be aware of? And if you don’t have a Pen Name, get one HERE! 

Confused About Covid-19 Guidelines? I’ve Got You Covered.

Here are my (but not THE official) UNPRECEDENTED Coronavirus guidelines:

1. Stay home unless you deem it “Essential” and then you should still stay home unless you must buy essential binge foods.

2. A face mask is useless and may even do more harm than good because you’ll touch your face a lot to adjust it. However masks might be mandatory by the time you read this. Acne and pore diminishing masks should only be considered if you don’t own a bandana.

3. Gloves are useless. Unless you put them on before and after you touch your face to adjust your mask.

4. Avoid handling things like handles. But wash your hands and the handles a lot if you do. Do not handle the soap with your hands.

5. You should never go to a hospital unless you show severe symptoms. Symptoms change daily so don’t go to a hospital until you are to a point that you cannot breathe and that’s how you will know you should have been hospitalized.

6. This virus can be deadly, but only for the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions — which will not change nearly as much as the early warning signs do.

7. Younger people can get it too but only when they’re a little older and develop a pre-existing condition from aging.

8. Everyone should stay safely inside, but it’s important to go outside to get fresh air and exercise.

9. There will NOT be any shortages in grocery stores except for empty shelves from people buying a lot of what they anticipate they’ll need to stay inside for a really long time if they dislike exercising in fresh air.

10. If you have antibodies you probably cannot get it unless you find a study that says you can.

11. You will NOT get it from animals even though we believe it started from an animal. Your dogs cannot give it to you unless they have an infected surface area that you cuddle without wearing ineffective gloves. Nobody snuggles a cat so they’re not on the list except for a few felines here or there so avoid watching The Tiger King.

12. After 15 days of not showing symptoms, you can go get fresh air and exercise (and binge foods) if you stay 6 feet away and are asymptomatic.

13. You can still be a carrier if you’re asymptomatic, but not if you’re asymmetric.

13. The beaches are closed because fresh air and exercise are not good there because there’s too much open space and the ocean breeze makes it more difficult for people to measure 6 ft.

14. Don’t worry if you are kept at home barefoot and pregnant because it’s only carried to your carpets on the bottoms of shoes.

15. You cannot go anywhere near a retirement home, but you should bring the elderly food and medicine since no deliveries can be made as they are locked up tighter than a drum.

16. Stop sharing musical instruments like drums.

17. If you are sick, stay home. You will get sicker at a hospital.

18. You can get restaurant food delivered to the house, which may have been prepared by people who found some effective masks and gloves. But you shouldn’t allow them to leave the food in bags on your old doormat because that’s where non-pregnant Girl Scouts might have stood (wearing shoes!) back when that was your favorite binge food and nobody knows how long the virus really lasts on Thin Mint packaging.

19. Everyone has a niece or an uncle who works on the front lines or is an infectious disease specialist so don’t panic when they tell you what they know.

20. “They do not know what they do not know.”

21. You can’t see your older mother or grandmother so stop feeling guilty for not wanting to. Guilt lowers your immune system

22. You should have had more children so quarantining would provide enough people to play Clue or other board games that need 4-6 players.

23. You are perfectly safe if you maintain the appropriate social distance which was determined by research models (yes plus size models were used!) but you can’t go out with friends or strangers at this same exact social distance.

24. The virus remains active on different surfaces for several hours, maybe days? But only if there are droplets. You can harness the virus using aerosols, but that’s not recommended because those can damage the ozone layer.

25. The virus could be evaporating and coming back to earth in heavy rainstorms but that plot is copyrighted for a movie.

26. We count the number of deaths but we don’t know the exact percentage that died because we need to divide that by the number of people infected and since we have not tested everyone yet, we made this a Census year so we can find out if we should be multiplying instead of dividing and conquering. Common Core.

27. We have no known treatment, except that there may be one that apparently is not fatal, unless you take too much of it from an aquarium. Fish are not in any danger.

28. We should stay in our homes until the virus disappears, but it will only vanish if we achieve herd immunity, so when it circulates in our area, we should not completely hide from it. Just like you stopped washing your second and third baby’s pacifiers after they fell on the floor. (If you DID have a 3rd baby, lucky you—more board game options are available, plus a lively round of charades!)

29. All the governors say Girl Scouts WILL be immune by next cookie season.

30. The only truly contagious thing is “unprecedented.” It’s spreading from people’s mouths to other people’s ears and the WHO is about to declare it an official Wordemic.

Ps. Yes, there are two # 13’s.
Pps. This is what my daughter’s corsage would have looked like IF she could go to her senior prom this year. It would have been stunning with her red dress.

Forced to Work From Home? See How Your Career is Faring!

Remember “Take Your Daughter to Work” Day? Well that’s over. We are now bringing our work home to our daughters. And our sons. And our spouses. And the family dog. And this is how it’s playing out. See if you can find your professional path below?

Real Estate Agent: It’s difficult to implement this particular skill-set in a home setting due to the fact you’re selling a house to people who already live there. Start slowly so your family will adjust. Hang flyers in the downstairs hallway as well as the children’s bedrooms advertising square footage and listing the age of the water heater. Take lots of pictures of the backyard on a sunny day when your dog is in a good mood and after the gardener has mowed the lawn. Offer chocolate chip cookies to any family member who ventures into the kitchen so they feel welcomed and be sure to open drawers and cabinets, showing off storage space. Point out the “Peekaboo” view of the ocean and then play peekaboo as you would with a toddler. (No! Don’t do that.) Instead, ask everyone around the dining table, “How soon can you close?” and “How much will you put down?” and then look directly at your own chest and say, “This duplex is a real fixer-upper, that’s true — but nothing a little TLC wouldn’t improve.” Balk when he claims to be an official inspector and tries to look down your top.

Lawyer: In order to get your potential client to hire you, you’ll need to stir up a little trouble, but relax it’s not unethical and it’s nothing you haven’t already done in your downtown office. Have plenty of ”Attorney At Law” business cards on hand. They should be yours, especially if you want them to call and request you take their case.  Quickly mop the tile by the stairs. Yell to your wife on the second floor that The Bachelor has a special interactive live-version starting this minute. After you have the frozen peas icing down her neck, explain spinal damage often doesn’t manifest for years. If she gets angry, threatening divorce, calmly state you’re happy to represent her and offer a fair settlement with lots of visitation with the family dog, if he’s still in a good mood after the backyard photo session. Instead of saying, “You’ll have your day in court!” Exclaim, “You’ll have your day in the den.” Refer to the wedding portrait hanging over the piano as Exhibit A.

Hostess: Once everyone starts to complain about hunger, take their names and find out if they have a preference for indoor or outdoor dining. Apologize that this establishment only allows service dogs, no matter how good of a mood their pet Shih Tzu is in. Announce for a party this large, you need a few minutes to get things set up. Instead of an annoying pager, hand them that classic board game Perfection, and tell them when all the pieces pop up, their table will be ready.

Department of Motor Vehicles Teller: Hang banners around the living room that say “A-F, G-L, L-P and R-Z.  Anyone whose last name starts with Q is sorely out of luck. Check your family’s vision with a blurry eye-chart. Snap their photo when their lids are mid-blink. Ask them, “If opposing cars arrive simultaneously at an intersection with a four-way stop sign, who has the right-of-way?” After the correct answer, “the car on the left is the one that yields” is given, have them explain exactly how the car “on the left” knows he’s actually the car on the left.

Court Reporter: Sit in the room of the house in which most of the action occurs. Speedily type on a laptop and keep insisting people identify themselves, spelling their official names. When appropriate, ask them to speak up and reprimand them for nodding. Keep calling the personal injury lawyer who hangs out by the wet staircase “Counselor” and ask if he needs a translator.

Therapist: Set up for a session in the room with the most uncomfortable place to sit. Tell whomever wanders into the bathroom looking for a lost toy or begging to borrow money that you are here to help them become trauma-free. With their fingers, have them tap their body along the 12 meridian points to restore balance to their disrupted energy field, all while repeating this phrase — “Even though I have this fear, I deeply and completely accept myself.” Yep, you’re THAT sort of therapist. Oh! And be mindful of brother/sister pairs who will turn the tapping technique into a game of “Gotcha Last.”

Funeral Director: Have a lot of carnations and gladiolas in vases strewn around the house. Enlighten anyone who is tearful about the differences between pine, mahogany, and maple. Say “I’m sorry for your loss” when your son has to mortgage Boardwalk and Park Place to his sister for her Get out of Jail card. End a hard day’s work by holding a free seance.

IT Guy:  When family members whine about the internet or their cellphone driving them crazy because the connection is too slow, instruct them to turn off the power source. Problem solved.

Architect: Each day have all six of your kids file into a little room off the front entry and while sitting at a makeshift drafting table, dispense advise about sibling rivalry, tattling, and what makes a true friend. Once the pandemic is over, pack up the entire clan (including the moody family dog named Tiger) and head to an amusement park where your design elevation sketches are rolled up in a cylinder tube only to get mixed-up with a poster of Yogi Bear. That’s what an architect who works at home does, and if you know where this is from, leave it in the comments section.

Writer: Take lots of selfies for the perfect headshot. Pick a cutsie but genderless pen-name. Craft a byline and bio, crediting yourself with famous passages or quotes that are normally attributed to Anonymous. Instruct those living in your home to send you a form rejection letter 37 times and pin them all to a bulletin board, citing Margaret Mitchell received 38 of these before publishing Gone With the Wind.

Dear Readers— Stay safe and healthy! I think we’re getting close to the end?

 

My Isolation From Blogging is Over

 

Yes, I admit to hoarding toilet paper to take photos like these of my children and pets. This is my firstborn son, but you can tell it’s an old picture because they don’t make it in colors anymore and I promise not to use TP so frivolously ever again. 

I somehow convinced myself that unless I wrote about the Coronavirus, (which I am so done with!) then nobody would be interested in my usual posts delving into life’s foibles. But just today I woke up adamantly declaring, “I don’t really care who reads me! If a typewriter clacks away in a deserted forest and there’s nobody around to hear the sound of a tree falling, would you still use Liquid Paper whiteout to cover up a typo?” Okay, I actually just woke up saying, “I don’t really care who reads me.” And the rest of that sentence I made up right now.

Long before WordPress blogs, I wrote only for myself. And I would never have kowtowed writing about the “hot topic of the day” just because it was the “in” thing to do. So today I’m going back to the mindset of writing for one important person . . . me.

Dear Diary,

After the WHO declared this virus a national pandemic, I tried to use my quirky humor to make this meme, which nobody understood or thought was the least bit funny. Basically all I succeeded in doing was dating myself.

That’s when I decided it was wrong of me to join the masses who try to capitalize on this crisis to get laughs. The other reason is — I was actually the first person to think up, “Ironically Passover is going to be cancelled this year due to an 11th plague.” But someone stole it from me and now they’re getting all the credit! I’m just not competitive enough for this “going viral” business, Diary.

Oh and guess what else? People are crafting personal protection out of bandanas, bras, and even diapers — so I feel terribly guilty my teenage daughter hoards face masks. Should I sneak into her bathroom and swipe them to donate to local hospitals? She has eighteen masks for oily skin and five with avocado, tea tree oil, and rosewater, which I think tightens pores?

And speaking of bras, as an overly endowed woman, I think “Flatten the Curve” would be a great tagline for a minimizer.  I also thought of selling the concept of “Corona Ice-cream Cone-a” to Baskin Robbins so we can all measure our pandemic days using their 31 flavors, consuming a different one each night. Maybe then quarantining wouldn’t be such a Rocky Road?  And how about “Corona Cologne-a” which could be an easy spray vaccine that smells nice too. People have always said I missed my calling in advertising/marketing.

So here’s a weird phenomenon. Every morning I wake up, go into my bathroom only to find the toilet seat in an upright position. I can only conclude I have a male ghost with a tiny bladder who’s been told to shelter in my place. This spook also eats all my Oreos, chips, and Hershey bars so he’s obviously switched from the Paleo Caveman diet to the Pandemeo Covidman diet.

And I’m so glad every single company I ever gave my email address to keeps me informed on a daily basis with detailed reports on how they and their employees handle Corona germs in their place of business. Yet I can’t get a single update from any of my six kids about whether or not they washed their hands before dinner.

My birthday came the same day the U.S. declared a national emergency and I figured that was oddly fitting. I consoled myself thinking about the entire country singing, “Happy Birthday” especially to me each time they scrubbed up.

Also I’m writing to Netflix and requesting they remove that message that pops up asking, “Are you STILL watching?” California is mandated to Stay Home . . . of course I’m still watching!  But spare me the guilt. At least my refrigerator doesn’t inquire, “Are you still eating?”

And regarding guilt — taking a break from Facebook right now because I can’t log in there without someone reminding me that “Shakespeare wrote King Lear during a plague!” Big Deal. I’m working on Coroneo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopandemic, and The Taming of the Shrewd (Virus).

Till next time, Diary.

Me

PS. I’m so proud that I’m sticking to my principles and writing for myself, not allowing the Coronavirus to infiltrate into my creative material.

                                                   GOT GUILT??

Why Aren’t You Thrilled About This “Pizza?”

I cannot stop making and eating the above pizza. But nobody else seems to give two shakes of parmesan cheese about it.

Well, at first my family was actually in a state of disbelief. Listen….

Me: Look! Your mother is having pizza.

Eldest Daughter: OMG you guys, c’mere! She really is!

Youngest Son: Yay! I thought this day would never come. Yum! We get pizza in the house again. Did Dominos deliver or did you pick that up from Papa Tony’s?

Me: Neither. I made it!

Eldest Son (eyes narrowing suspiciously) You made it? With what kind of crust? That weird cauliflower stuff you mentioned?

Now here I should interject that my entire family knows I don’t eat bread. Or grain. Or pasta. Or starch. Ever since I went on the Atkins’ Diet in 1999, carbs have been a huge phobia of mine. In fact I’m so terrified of them, a pizza is something I dress up as on Halloween night to frighten the neighborhood children. But you’d never find me consuming a slice.

Me: Nope. It’s not with caulifower. I got a new recipe book and it has ingredients for a pizza crust that’s 100% chicken!

Youngest Daughter: One of your Cro-Magnon Man recipe books?

Me: You mean Paleo, dear. But never mind that. Here! Everyone have a taste! Cuz it’s chicken!

They exited the kitchen so fast, you’d think I put on the Chicken Dance song and demanded they strut their stuff.  Well what do kids know anyway? I think this healthy non-carb pizza is the best thing since sliced bread!

And I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, so I did the next best thing. I made a post about it and put it on Facebook.

 

This post sat there for days, becoming stale. No likes. Zero comments. Then slowly but surely people unceremoniously unfriended me.  What??? It’s not like I suggested preparing a crust out of the Corona Virus. This was chicken, folks. No harm, no foul — excuse the pun.

Well I wasn’t going to let that put a damper on my enthusiasm.  I made the recipe over and over. Then I got adventurous.  I substituted pesto sauce for marinara. I used creamy Alfredo sauce another time. And because it was a chicken crust, I even tried it with BBQ sauce. Delicious! You see, Atkins never said I should avoid sauce. Just the stuff most people put sauce on. But CHICKEN. What a fantastic alternative!

Eventually I phoned a girlfriend to confide.

Me: I’m quite surprised and pretty disappointed that people aren’t embracing my healthier way of having pizza. Any idea why?

Friend: Honestly Stephanie, you’re taking chicken, smashing it down real thin, baking it with tomato sauce and cheese on top. When we order that in a restaurant, we call it Chicken Parmesan.

Me: But you can pick this up and hold it in your hand like actual pizza. Want to come over for dinner tonight and see for yourself? Hello? Are you there?

Maybe people who indulge in every day flour-crusted pizza just don’t see the big deal about a healthy chicken crusted pizza. But for me it’s a huge novelty in my culinary experience. And why should I stop at pizza crust?  The sky is the limit now! I can make taco shells out of chicken. I can make burrito wraps out of chicken. I can make buns for hamburgers out of chicken. I can open a restaurant and call it “The Chicken Comes First! (Before The Egg)”

After I enthusiastically told my boyfriend how happy-go-clucky I was feeling over all of this chicken stuff and that I was making plans to go on the Shark Tank television show, he reminded me not to count my chickens before they’re hatched.

Hmmph. Everybody’s a comedian. So please leave me your best “Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?” joke in my comments section and also let me know if you want my innovative recipe. Somewhere out in cyberspace is another pizza deprived person who will surely compreHENd (see what I did there?) why chicken pizza crust is such big news.

I wanna be a Cool Crusty Chicken!

 

 

Erotic (or Neurotic??) Photography!

     “Arch! Arch! Arch! And more Arch!”

Last week my therapist/life-coach emailed me some books to read and a few other suggestions for heightening my self-esteem, especially to target how I was feeling about my “ever-changing” menopausal body. Totally baffled by her first suggestion – “Buddha Photos,” I concluded her voice-to-text app must’ve garbled her words and she’d actually meant to say “Boudoir” Photos.

Oh. Wow. Really? Me gain confidence strutting around and modeling my own underwear — so dull and boring, even Victoria wouldn’t think to keep it Secret? Quite possibly! I mean c’mon, never say never, right?  Besides, what is it about a camera that makes something like this feel so alarming?

I soon found that it was what lurked behind the camera…. a live male photographer, that caused me to panic. But again, no worries — he immediately introduced his female assistant as my “Personal Posing Coach.” I promptly nicknamed her “The Naked Lady Whisperer” because whenever I attempted to emulate her moves, (which inevitably involved excruciating lower back and extreme derrière positioning) she’d lean into my ear murmuring, “1-2-3… Ready… Arch!”

Each time I tried and tried, but could not raise my eyebrows any higher.

During her additional choreography motions, (which trust me, would require a Cirque Du Soleil performer to ask for a spotter) the male photographer would loudly exclaim in his unusual accent, “Perfecto….Super Saxy!” and then click his camera hundreds of times appreciatively while she’d blush. Feeling grateful that this was at least heightening someone’s self-esteem, I considered leaving them alone together while I snuck out for lunch.

After getting into what they both referred to as “my makeup and hair” the entire photo session was now focused on morphing me into this “Super Saxy Woman” – i.e. the Innocent Girl Next Door, the Femme Fatale, and the Barely Legal Secretary. I wanted the emphasis to be more on the amazing props but they both kept an eagle eye on my body parts instead. “Point your feet!” Naked Lady Whisperer hissed into my ear, “Makes your legs appear longer and gives your photos polish.” Ugh…if only I’d thought to paint some on my ugly toes.

“Stop smiling with your teeth. Don’t say cheese!” they both shouted in unison. “Just slightly open your mouth, and look subtly suggestive.” When my stomach loudly growled, I thought it subtly suggested, “Order a large cheese pizza!” but I might’ve misheard it.

It quickly became obvious that for me to part my crimson chapped lips in what looked like a natural occurrence would take more of a miracle than Moses to part the Red Sea.

“Never mind…Go back to saying cheese!” they both shouted in unison. And that was the closest I got to pizza.

For the grand finale, they wheeled in a glossy black Steinway grand piano as Naked Lady Whisperer showed me the expected pose … gracefully straddled across the keys, blonde hair flowing, toes pointing, back-bending into what looked like the McDonalds’ golden arches.

Sure thing! I marveled at her flexibility and then immediately demanded a less strenuous instrument from their prop room. “Gosh! Wouldn’t my therapist/life-coach be extremely proud of my newfound assertiveness?” I thought out loud. “After all, didn’t advocating for yourself raise your self-esteem?”

When the day came to view my proofs, I summoned my therapist (whose idea this entire fiasco had been in the first place!) to assist with narrowing down the selections for ordering. We both agreed the one of me sound asleep (with my lips somehow subtly parted — yay!) holding a shiny brass Saxophone was indeed “Super Saxy.”

But it was at this point in the process when my confused therapist turned to me and confessed that there hadn’t been any typos or autocorrects in her original email. “Oh really?” I asked somewhat surprised. “But why would you have written ‘Buddha Photos?’ That makes no sense.”

It was then that I learned that the Buddha is always at peace with his rounded belly and she wanted me to look at lots and lots of pictures of him so I’d have a healthy role model. Oh brother!

Me finally taking the correct advice from my therapist!

Just so the day wasn’t a total loss, I ordered a 20 x 28 inch framed portrait of my favorite camera angle – a zoomed-in close-up of my naked left big toe, pointed and arched in all its glory. And looking extremely provocative.

In fact it provoked me to finally get a much needed pedicure!

Ladies: Have you or would you ever try boudoir photography? Men: What’s your opinion of receiving it as a gift?

               Just channel a pretzel!

I Wanna Score Big on Words With Friends! (And Apparently So Do the Men Who Challenge Me)

Well now, who even needs to make an online dating profile when there are Scrabble type games on the internet? Sheesh! At first I thought it was a big coincidence, the number of strange men requesting a round with me. Then I let it go to my head — Ohhh, they were all challenging me because my stats were glowing, and the impressive number of seven letter words I formed! Then it started dawning on me….it’s because my name is Stephanie and not Stephen. Hmmm.

So let’s just say that I’ve experienced “Words With Friends” morphing into “Words With Male Strangers Wanting To Become MORE Than Friends Using Words They Think Are Good Pick-Up Lines.” And they don’t hesitate to put their (lame!) words into the Chat-Box instead of on the playing board.

As an example, here’s what transpired before I could tell any of these men that the jig was up. Just because I’m such a nice person and I don’t like ignoring anyone…

Male WWF Player: Wow! Impressive Word!

Me: Open? What’s so good about “Open?”

Male WWF Player: I like it. It means you are Open to the possibilities. With us.

GAME FORFEITED.

I took the bait one more time before I got wise.

Male WWF Player: So how about that ‘R?” How do you think ‘R’ compares to “L?”

Me: Are you really trying to initiate a conversation about capital letters?

Male WWF Player: Oh! Did you want to bypass the alphabet foreplay and just get straight to sexting? I like it. 😉

Me: Ugh. Just mind your P’s & Q’s, creep!

GAME FORFEITED.

These idiots were lowering my overall scores because I had to keep quitting all the games in the middle with them. A sure fire way to tell that these “players” are not serious WWF players  is to look at how long they’ve been competing, which is noted in their profiles. Typically they’ve all recently joined the game like yesterday. And for some reason, they all think that I was born yesterday!

Other red flags: These scammers are FAR MORE talkative than someone who actually cares about winning the game. And they will always try to get your email address, claiming they have some tips on playing the game better that are too lengthy to share in the chat box. And their profile photo usually has a child in it that they’re piggybacking on their shoulders so you think, “Aw, what a devoted father he is. Probably just plays on here to take a short breather from that active little tyke. I’ll give it a go!”

Enough! I just want to play some Scrabble without having to dust off the real thing from my game shelf and take up room at my kitchen table.

I’m experiencing the same intrusions on Facebook a lot more lately as well. A rash of “Friend Requests” from odd men. They always have two first names. Antonio Marcus or Clyde Thomas or Justin Scott. And they are ALL (supposedly) in the military and they always have an American flag as background for their profile photos. And they are all listed as widowers. Why do they think being a widower would be such an attractive thing to advertise, I wonder? Perhaps they feel it will garner sympathy. “Ahh, the poor man lost his beloved spouse. I should bring him a brisket dinner.” Is that what they think goes through a potential victim’s head? When I’m actually thinking, “Ew! I wonder if he stabbed, poisoned, or strangled his wife!?”

Readers: Are you finding a lot more scam artists in online places where you’d least expect to encounter them? Also I am writing less here on WordPress and more on The Medium. (I cannot resist that readers can “clap” for you over there. What can I say? I like applause!) If you’d like to peruse my more serious writing about relationships on The Medium, I’ve been getting published on PS I LOVE YOU. Just click   HERE

“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore…” (And Maybe That’s a Good Thing, Barbra??)

“Would you like ranch dressing or honey mustard with your Valentine’s bouquet?” Said No Florist Ever!

Patience! This is actually a post about Flowers and Valentine’s Day and Love — even though it starts out quoting an old sad song. Poor Neil, he really got admonished in this late 70’s popular ballad for not being romantic enough. Did you know that Streisand and Diamond each sang those same lyrics separately until their recordings were famously spliced together by different radio stations, creating unofficial duets, the success of which led to the studio bringing the two performers together for an official duet recording? Okay, back on topic.

Recently I did some crowdsourcing on Facebook and this was how I presented my subject.

Ladies, do you genuinely love getting flowers?? Or do you look at it as a “default gift” when your mate cannot think of anything else you might like? Men, do you think ALL women must like receiving flowers and so that’s the first thing you gravitate to for a nice gesture? Or is it out of sheer convenience/ease?

Out of 42 responses, only five females were not flower fans. Here were their comments:

No flowers for me . . . I would prefer to be taken to a field of daisies or have him plant some rose bushes for us to witness their growth, rather than pluck beauty from the earth to watch wither.

~Violet

Chocolates any time. Flowers, never! To me, I’m just waiting to see when they will be dead enough to throw away after making a mess on the counter.

~Lily

I have asthma. Flowers make me wheeze. Please bring me jewelry. Or coffee. Or a candle. Or a toy for my dog. Just not flowers!

~Jasmine

Honestly, they just don’t do a thing for me. It’s such an “I’m Going Thru The Motions” empty gesture. I’d much prefer something that has some meaning attached to it.

~Daisy

Okay, I hope there’s enough room for me to fully respond to your question. First off, the main reason I don’t care for a man giving me a bouquet is that after my father passed away I got lots of floral arrangements sent to the house, so I tend to associate them with funerals and the loss of a loved one — not to mention flowers themselves run through their life cycle extremely quickly and will die right before your very eyes, no matter HOW WELL you care for them. I once had a boyfriend who got flowers for me only after an argument … so when I’m not associating them with death, I’m linking them to quarrels, apologies, and/or multiple breakups! The tight plastic wrapping frustrates the heck out of me. Ouch! I’ve gotten stuck hard by roses while trying to arrange them. Speaking of water — I never have a vase I can safely reach. Twice I’ve fallen off barstools trying to get one out of an upper cabinet. The water gets all yucky and gross smelling if you don’t change it often and try washing the vase after it’s all gunked up with encrusted floral droppings. My kitties play with them, knocking them over or ingesting them. They can trigger my allergies. Flowers with yellow in them always stain everything they touch, including my granite kitchen countertops. And lastly, yes flowers do feel like a “generic” gift, leaving me to think “I guess he doesn’t know me well enough to pick out something more personalized.” See aren’t you sorry you asked me?

~Little Miss Menopause

 

Astute readers will notice I took the liberty of responding to my own crowdsourcing survey with quite a lengthy rant. (Talking to myself, nothing new here!) I also embedded a similar display of emotion in my novel as one of my main character’s personality traits. But would I ever directly tell a man I was seeing how I felt about receiving flowers? Never.

A man is conditioned to think all women love flowers and so in his mind, he’s done good! How could you fault a guy for that? How could you burst his romantic bubble by pricking it with a sharp rose thorn?

I bet there are a lot more women out there like me, secretly hiding the fact that flowers just don’t bring them as much joy (or any?) as the giver assumes they do. Perhaps (like me!) they’re also keeping silent so as not to hurt his feelings. Bottom line, what if all these men are bringing all these women flowers and nobody sincerely wants to give them and nobody sincerely wants to get them?

“A Rose by any other name … might just be a vicious cycle of poor communication and wasted $’s.”

I’ll leave you with my one amusing, touching, adorable tale of receiving flowers from my youngest son. Once Upon a Time on a Mother’s Day long ago an eight year-old boy waited until the last minute to get anything to show his adoration. Picking a bunch of last minute blooms from multiple neighbors’ gardens, he rushed into the kitchen to hastily try and find a suitable vase (remember they’re all stored inconveniently in the highest cabinets!) before his mother came downstairs that Sunday morning so he could shout, “Surprise!” Realizing his search was in vain, he grabbed the closest thing that emulated the shape of a vase. And that was the first, last and only time I’ve ever received flowers displayed in water (yes he remembered the water) sticking out of a Hamilton Beach Blender … of which he did thoughtfully unplug from the outlet.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Female readers….hoping for flowers? Fess up in my comments section! Male readers… Is it a cop-out gift because you’re feeling lazy or do you truly believe there isn’t a woman alive who won’t swoon at posies? 

 

2020 Goal: Get Someone Who REALLY Dislikes Me To Fall In Love With Me!

This is it! This will be the year I seduce, lure, tempt, beguile, coax, and sweet-talk my standoffish (okay, not just standoffish, but really rotten and sometimes evil!) roommate into not just accepting me, but loving me completely, dare I say unconditionally? Because all the time we’ve been together so far, I’ve felt nothing but pure disdain.

It’s going to be an extremely difficult job, but I don’t care. None of the other advice from other people has ever worked. In fact most of the things I’ve read from the experts on how to handle this particular situation have said I should just “recognize, accept, deal with, try to tame, silence, ignore, chastise, or banish completely.”

But those ideas are just not working and the last one isn’t even feasible at all. When you encounter this particular determined personality type, they usually stay in your life forever — mainly out of sheer force of habit.

Oh it’s true — a few smart people have told me I should “Embrace!” or “Make friends with!” and I think they’re on the right track so that’s why I’m taking it one step further — and I’m about to inspire a mad, passionate love affair with . . .  my Inner Critic! (Herein known as ‘IC’)

I’ll start slowly as anyone who has tried to woo a reluctant someone knows to do….with a casual first date. And I’ll wait to make sure IC is in a good mood before I broach the idea.

My Invite:

Dear IC,

I would like to invite you for a nice pasta dinner and some lovely conversation. Please let me know if you’d be receptive to this. 

Looking forward,

Stephanie

The Response:

Dear Stuffy Stephie (that’s IC’s nickname for me from when I was a young highly allergic child and was always congested)

You suck! You can’t cook to save your life and you shouldn’t be eating carbs because you’re fat. Plus I’m not wasting my time talking to someone who is completely unrealistic about their writing career taking off.”

Thanks but no thanks, Loser!

IC

So my Inner Critic was playing hard-to-get. This just served to fuel my fire and desire! And I decided to pull out all the stops and simply trap IC into not only a special dinner date, but an entire night of wonderful Self Care which I’d recently read about in Cosmopolitan magazine.

I cleaned my entire house even though IC decided to hide the vacuum from me and later on resorted to scattering white fluffy stuff all over the sofa, though that might’ve been my persian kitty.

I took great pains with my appearance and dressed nicely even while IC stared into the mirror and ran down the list of problems with my looks. 80’s outdated hair, check. Wrinkles, check. Large pores. Really? Yep, check. Upper arm flab, check. Sagging breasts, check. . . Okay IC is quite the scintillating conversationalist and I know it’s rude to interrupt, but I was determined to carry on. I put on my favorite song (Queen: Don’t Stop Me Now) and that seemed to change the mood of things somewhat as IC begrudgingly danced around my bedroom with me.

Ten minutes later, we were interrupted briefly when my friend Tiffany called to see if I wanted to go listen to her sing Karaoke. I told her I was actually on a “hot” date, which was true since IC and I were both perspiring from sweating to the oldies (the last two songs blasting — “She’s a Maniac” from the movie Flashdance, and “Let’s Get Physical” by Olivia Newton John) Tiffany asked if it was a sure thing? Without hesitation, I said “Ohhhh, definitely!” and she hung up sounding quite envious.

Of course my boyfriend called immediately after that (Tiffany can’t keep anything to herself) and said, “Tell the guy you’re with that I’m wishing him good luck – he’ll need it.” and I responded, “My date is actually a difficult and hard-to-please female” and without missing a beat he said, “Spending the night alone? Well let me know how that works out for ya,” and hung up. Gotta admire such confidence!

From there, things slowly went downhill. IC balked at my food, (calling it fattening and empty calories so we just drank a protein shake) fooled around with the remote control, (not finding Schitts Creek on Netflix or Handmaids Tale on Hulu to be the least bit interesting) and became contradictory when we talked about trying to write and submit a One Act play for a couple of local theaters.

But IC didn’t stop there in her efforts to sabotage the evening. She even had the nerve to make loud booing and hissing noises during the ultimate self-care part of the night…masturbation. (Uh…Cosmo magazine, remember?)

Undaunted, I asked IC out the next night to accompany me to an evening of Improv where I was supposed to go onstage and be funny with six other outgoing people. Turns out I excelled at that and they crowned me “Queen of Self-Deprecating Humor” (thanks to all the put-downs emanating from IC) and made me part of their team.

Make no mistake, I’m nowhere close to proposing a lifetime commitment yet, and IC will probably fling any future engagement ring across the room and spit the champagne into my face, but I’m very hopeful now that I’m getting strong indications that she’ll admire my creative writing if it’s for my suicide note, my will, my eulogy, my obituary, or even bad reviews of Tiffany’s karaoke singing. Also she’s dropping big hints that the following things really turn her on … a daily dose of the darkest chocolate, a white noise machine at night, and for some reason she really wants to ride along Route 66 on a Harley. Okay….whatever, girlfriend!