Managing Midlife Mustang Mania

 

I have never been what you’d call a “Car Person.” But I am very much a “Color Person” and quite partial to red. And I’m also a “Windblown Messy Hair Person.” Once you throw in my tendency to “put the cart before the horse” — this should easily explain justify why I recently walked into a used car dealership and instantly fell head-over-heels for a RED convertible Mustang.

But there’s no reasonable way to rationalize all the events that transpired from that moment on, so I just have to confess them to you…

It all began when the car salesman assured me it was perfectly fine to be  impulsive  spontaneous with this kind of purchase because they now offered a “No Risk 7 day All Money Returned Buyer’s Remorse Program.”

“Bitchin’” I said in an offhand sort of way, feeling comforted that nothing was cast in concrete. I really did say “bitchin’” because you see, I became 25 years-old whenever I was near that convertible. Visions of riding along the coast with the top down, wearing Jackie O sunglasses as the wind wolf-whistles through my wildly tousled tresses (which of course would be classically contained by a brightly colored Jackie O style scarf!) flashed through my mind.

Wait! Forget Jackie. I’d be a brunette Christie Brinkley in National Lampoon’s Vacation movie! I could vividly hear that familiar soundtrack during the iconic highway scene as I winked, shook out my hair, blew kisses, and seductively stepped on the gas, leaving behind some pathetic husband and his boring family sitting in their lame minivan in my dust.

Then the dealership clinched the deal by bringing out a gigantic fluffy yellow bow and placing it on the shiny hood of the car so now it became an actual present. And everybody knows you can’t look a gift horse (Mustang, remember?) in the mouth.

Was I falling in love with the car or just falling all over the car?

As I drove off in my new used MidlifeCrisisMobile, I felt strangely carefree and serene. And I swear I would never have entertained any regrets whatsoever if that tricky salesman hadn’t planted the words “Buyer’s Remorse” into my menopausal mush mind.

By the time I pulled into my driveway, 55 Year-Old “What Have I Done?” Stephanie took over and flooded me with sensibility  and good judgment (and also an unpleasant reminder that I had recently been in a serious automotive accident and my conservative four door sedan with all its updated features had allowed me to walk away with mere scratches and bruises) and so I immediately went inside to google “Mustang Safety Test Ratings” and saw it only received 4 * out of 5 *’s. This was a horse of a different color altogether.

Wait! During my recent New Year’s Resolutions, I had vowed not to let fear and worry rule my life anymore. I would just go out to my garage and take a peek at the beautiful Mustang to reinforce my decision about keeping her. Her! Yes…. Mustang Sally was the perfect name for my new car.

“All you want to do is ride around Sally, ride, Sally, ride!” I sang jubilantly.

And lo and behold, 25 year-old Stephanie fought to stay in charge most of the next 7 “Risk-Free” days with 55 year-old Stephanie trying to emerge here and there, but Aristotle Onassis and Chevy Chase would promptly put her back in her place.

On day six, 55 year-old Stephanie suddenly realized that there hadn’t been any kind of extended warranty and Sally was a 2014. Granted she was low mileage, but still I should have a longer protection plan than just the 90 days the used car lot made standard. I called back the man who sold me the car and let 55 year-old Stephanie explain that I wanted to modify the contract to include the extra coverage.

“No can do,” he said firmly. “You’ll have to come in tomorrow and completely return the car and repurchase it all over again, this time specifying that you want to add that in. Fortunately this can all be done because you’re still within your seven days,” he stated.

25 year-old Stephanie began to stress that in the few minutes the car was returned  (and before it could be repurchased) someone else might rush in and buy it for themselves. The thought caused me to toss and turn all night long, but 55 year-old Stephanie prudently said, “Hold your horses…If it’s meant to be, it will be.”

And the next day I did exactly that. As I gleefully signed the new contract (and as 25-year-old Stephanie sang, “Who’s tripping down the streets of the city,
smilin’ at everybody she sees? Who’s reachin’ out to capture a moment?
Everyone knows it’s WINDY!”)– the salesman confirmed that I now officially had an additional 7 days (for buyer’s remorse) which would start anew.

25 year-old S then asked a question that some might say was throwing caution to the WIND. (Perhaps all caution should be contained inside a Jackie O type scarf?) “If I’m mega certain that I want these rockin’ wheels, can’t I just sign a waiver saying I don’t need another seven days?” Both Stephanies simultaneously held their breath, awaiting his answer.

“No can do,” said the salesman with authority. “You’re required to take another seven days starting right now. But if I don’t see you back here at the end of that timeframe, the Mustang by default, will be ALL yours!” 25 year-old S high-fived him in her cool, awesome manner. 55 year-old S started to say, “Wild horses couldn’t keep me from returning. See you in another week!” but got too panicky from the images of rolling down an embankment in a convertible and instead wondered which doctor friend might prescribe some anti-anxiety drugs.

The top went up and down at every red light as we both struggled to maintain the power. And that’s when my 55 year-old self literally got a super strong second WIND. “Birds will poop on your head. A sudden unexpected cloudburst will drench your clothes and ruin the leather interior. You’ll get skin cancer and wrinkles with all that extra sunshine. And a terrorist could toss a ticking bomb into the backseat without you even hearing it cuz it’s so noisy in here with all the wind. Come to your senses and return this car right NOW!”

“OMG. You’re so old and stodgy, you should be Gone With the WIND,” taunted clever 25 year-old S. “Convertibles are fun, and sexy, and you’re gonna have the time of your life from now on!” and then she floored it, not even believing that cops gave bright red cars more speeding tickets. Next she played extra dirty by pointing out something practical — “with this older car, the payments and car insurance will actually both go down!”

All week long the battle for power waged on. Stephanie (25) would pull the prettiest scarves out of the dressing table and attempt to tie them around my hair in the most fashionable of styles, whilst Stephanie (55) would use them like a muzzle so her younger self couldn’t sing, “WIND Beneath my Wings” by Bette Middler and “Ride Like the WIND” by Christopher Cross.

I made Pros and Cons lists, asked puzzled friends for advice, and even called the car salesman up begging, “If you were me, what would you do?” He reminded me that he worked on commission and then announced if he were me, he’d order a straight jacket.

As a last resort, I told him I now wished to add roadside assistance to my contract, hoping he’d once again say I’d have to return it and repurchase it all over, thus buying myself another seven more days to mull things over. “No can do,” he said. “My manager is onto you, Sister.”

48 hours before my seven days were up, my well-meaning boyfriend lugged over a dozen Consumer Research and Car & Driver magazines plus a life-size dummy to do a crash test with. But I chastised him, “Remember? You’re just supposed to listen and empathize with my problem. You’re not supposed to try and fix it!”

He left discreetly humming, “The answer my friend is blowing in the WIND…”

And so (at the risk of beating a dead horse) I’m asking you, my faithful readers to cast your own vote in the comments below. Is a six year old Mustang convertible appropriate for a 55-year old ambivalent quirky woman to be driving around town in? Would you leisurely stroll across the street in a crosswalk if you saw me rounding the corner, my 25 year-old self gunning the engine, “Dust in the WIND” by Kansas blasting from the stereo, as you hear someone shout, “Look! Is she going topless?!” whilst my 55 year-old self simultaneously pops valium like candy??

Obviously I hope this stays my biggest “problem” in life.

An Ode To Tupperware

Leftovers, Leftovers, wherefore art thou?

I guess Saran Wrap is no longer highbrow.

Whoever invented this silly plastic container,

Certainly amassed a fortune with his no-brainer.

But then he created a lid that would burp,

Poor Reynolds Wrap, it would easily usurp.

Tupperware, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways…

Distracting my sex life at night and darkening my days.

You discolor, you warp, you melt, and you crack

Then you lose yourself in the pantry, hiding in the back!

Or you tease me by playing shuffleboard inside my fridge,

Holding hostage a yummy pound cake baked by Pepperidge.

Your tops and bottoms never properly latch or attach,

Must I use a dating site to find your perfect match?

You always have the same size square body, with two different lips

What? You don’t think I can pack crackers in baggies with chip clips??

Or take Zip-Locks — they do their job silently. I guess that shouldn’t matter?

Try telling me that when I open my cupboard and to the floor you all scatter.

Once I was taunted into buying glass canisters with covers that hinged,

“We won’t get separated,” they promised, so I bought dozens. Oy, I binged!

All it took was one traditional Passover dinner when guests begged to take home

My brisket and matzo ball soup  (Cuz Jews won’t settle for ‘to-go’ styrofoam!)

Alas my new storage efforts had all been in vain — and I was feeling bereft,

What to do? File a lawsuit? Report to the cops this weird kinda theft?

And that’s when I heard your loud mocking — it was a clatter quite hearty,

And lo and behold, my friend decided to throw herself a Tupperware Party.

Ugh, are those still around? So I went and ate and laughed and invested,

And just like being overrun with ants, my kitchen was once again infested.

But never again will your evil dampen my well-intentioned food-saving morale,

Cuz you’re staying organized and sorted in this brand new Container Corral.

I like to think of it as my Personal Household Sanity Evolution

But don’t think I’m ever going to use any of you, that’s NOT my solution.

This is just the best way to torture you — make you squirm and wail

It’s my version of hell, your well-deserved punishment, your personal jail.

And when I sell my property and nosy neighbors come to open house to snoop

I’ll look like Martha Stewart, perfectly organized — hell yeah, that’s how low I’ll stoop!

 

How an Innocent Entertainment App On Your Phone Can Impact Your Relationship

Because I live in a large metropolitan area, there is an Entertainment App available for purchase called “The Seat Junky.” The premise/philosophy behind it is quite simple — basically events at local live venues (this does NOT work for movie theaters however) will take place regardless of how many tickets are sold, so they may as well have a full house (lots more applause, and hopefully more people to write positive reviews afterwards, right?) by giving away (yep, completely free!) tickets at the last minute once they project how many extra seats they will have.

The show MUST go on, right? (Side-Note: I sure wish cruise ships, airlines, and hotels also shared this perspective when they aren’t sold-out!!)

Now utilizing this app (to the fullest extent possible) requires a person to have major flexibility in their schedule, an open-mindedness to trying new things, and in my case… a full-blown case of OCD. The latter is because when things suddenly pop-up on this app (and that can happen any time of the day or night btw!) because there are no fees, they go LIKE THAT! Quicker than you just read my last sentence. I learned this the hard way by only logging on once a day and seeing “Sorry, Unavailable!” tags across all of the recent show listings.  And we’re talking wonderful broadway style musicals, stand-up comics, major concerts, symphonies, and anything else you can think of that someone might turn into a live theatrical experience.

If I didn’t know about the acronym FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) before, I certainly do now, thanks to this App! Like clockwork first thing each morning, I would immediately log in to see if something new and exciting had come on. But then it “dawned” on me…normal people were literally logging in at “dawn!” In other words, my “first thing in the morning” wasn’t exactly what most people would deem “morning” due to my horrible insomnia. In fact my “first thing in the morning” (10 am) would be most people’s first “coffee break” at the office. And that’s why I was still finding those irritating “Sorry, Unavailable!” tags on all the offerings.

This would never do. Darn those Early Birds and their respective worms! So now during all hours of the night, I inexplicably startle awake with an uncontrollable obsession to check the app.

Last night at 3 a.m., I nabbed two tickets (the app always allows you to bring a guest!) to a play called “The Humans” (Now mind you, I’ve never in my entire theater-going life even heard of this show before, but the description said it was equally uproariously funny AND deeply chilling and there was no way I was letting those two simultaneous emotions pass me by!) and so after snatching them up (and gleefully witnessing that “Sorry, Unavailable!” tag appearing afterwards, (effectively taunting the rest of the app subscribers!) I felt totally victorious and triumphant. “Nah nah nah… They’re all Mine!”

Forgetting the late hour, I enthusiastically dialed my boyfriend.

Me: Hi. Oh! Did I wake you? Really?? Well, I’m sorry. But it’s important. I just wanna make sure you’re available to see “The Humans?” with me this Friday?

Him: (groggy) Which humans? Your kids? Because I’d say that’s a bit of a stretch if we’re talking about your teenage son.

Me: No no, not my family.

Him: Oh I get it. Is this another one of your ploys to get me to the animal shelter again to adopt a dog that you insist has a human soul, which you claim is evident by looking into his large expressive eyes.

Me: No, don’t be silly. It’s a show on our app.

Him: (Groaning) Not that app again, Stephanie. You can’t just keep willy nilly snapping up every new listing that comes on there just because it has unsold tickets.

Me: Did you just say “Willy Nilly?”

Him: Never mind that. Did it ever occur to you that there must be a good reason there are so many empty seats?

Me: Please? If I didn’t grab them, someone else would have.

Him: Is that so? Over Christmas you impulsively claimed two seats for a Sunday morning church service.

The preacher had let us bring our menorah and some latkes, but I guess that wasn’t the point. Perhaps it was getting out of hand? I was becoming (becoming??) competitive, compulsive, calculating, and basically dragging us to every show in town, including a lonely old man who managed to make a listing for bowling so he could have a few fans cheer him on in the ally. It had sounded like fun to me because he’d titled it, “That’s Just the Way I Roll — A One Man Show.”

After we hung up, I reluctantly released my seats for “The Humans” and was about to log out of the entertainment app (possibly for good?) when I suddenly noticed a description pop-up for a brand new show called, “The Addiction!” Synopsis: A pathetic woman becomes so addicted to an app for live theater events that she ruins her own relationship.” I was proud of myself, (and my boyfriend would be as well!) because I did NOT grab two tickets…

Instead, I wrote to the director and told him I was the perfect Understudy in case the star ever got ill.

Note: Post NOT sponsored by Seat Junky. Just my doing some penance for getting so crazy.

 

 

Favorite Fairytale Follow-ups!

Let’s play “Where Are They Today?” with a special focus on our Career Edition!

Snow White: This fair maiden no longer has skin as white as snow since she overcooked herself in a tanning salon to prepare herself for the huntsmen, (the Queen’s hunky assistant who saved Snow White’s life by hiding her in a forest, instead of killing her) on their wedding day. Ms. White now works in the field of sleep disorders (actually many Fairytale characters find the subject of sleep to be the bane of their existence!) and runs a clinic specializing in insomnia, oversleeping, nightmares, and F.F.F. (FatalFlawFruit) which is a common syndrome rendering victims helpless if they should fall into a deadly slumber after biting a Red Delicious apple. The handsome prince, (whom Snow divorced after trying to make her marriage work for 2.5 years) is currently a member of a 12-Step group for people compelled to kiss the lips of individuals impersonating corpses in glass coffins. It’s called “Dead End Relationships Anonymous.” (As of yet, there are no specific 12-Step groups to address the addictions of the individuals inside those glass coffins.) Meanwhile the seven dwarf miners saved up all their sick and vacation days and so it’s — Off to Bali they go!

Cinderella: Cindy has designed an entire line of shatterproof acrylic shoes, after getting a shard of glass deeply embedded in her heel from those fateful slippers. Her unique tagline is, “From flip-flops to stilettos, one thing is perfectly clear . . . someone with a foot-fetish will need to be transparent about it from the very start!” Her two wicked step-sisters briefly dabbled as adult film stars, but eventually settled into a housecleaning business called “The Merry (Scary!) Maids” and they have a sideline company throwing fancy balls and inviting everyone with the exception of Cinderella. So far they’ve dribbled lacy basketballs, rolled sequined bowling balls, hit velvet tennis balls, and kicked pearlized footballs in front of appreciative audiences whilst Cinderella remained banished from every court. Instead Cindy contents herself staying home watching her handsome prince bake pumpkin pies whilst trying to control their rodent problem with humane traps.

Sleeping Beauty: This ambitious early-riser (who only answers to Aurora now) finally cured her narcolepsy at Snow White’s Sleeping Disorder clinic, and has a lot more on her mind these days than just pricking fingers. She sews elaborate baby christening gowns and shows up at the events to monitor the blessings that guests bestow on the innocent little tykes. The gift of Song, the gift of Beauty, the gift of Charm, the gift of Huggies diapers are all permitted, but lest someone try to utter “the gift of a Spindle on a Spinning Wheel,” and you haven’t seen real revenge until you’ve seen this slumbering beauty wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty also divorced her prince of a husband because she couldn’t get past his dragon breath which he unfortunately picked up whilst slaying one in her honor. Meanwhile Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather have taken their bumbling stand-up comedy on cruise ships, billing themselves as the “The Three Stooges Wearing Rouges” going extra heavy with blush on their cheeks. It’s really quite humorous how they make-up this work! Evil Maleficent never responded to the official “What are you up to these days?” survey, but she is thought to have gotten involved in the movie sequel industry.

Rapunzel: Rest a-sheared, today we find Rapunzel straightening out her life and towering over the other princesses on Amazon simply by marketing a reformulated ladder she calls “Hairway To Heaven” and you can guess what it’s made out of! Handymen the world over are loving this new shiny, full of body, replenishing way to climb up on rooftops, change ceiling lightbulbs, and hang Christmas decorations under any condition(ers). See you on QVC Rapunzel!

Rumplestiltskin: This conniving shyster went from spinning straw to gold to writing legit Baby Naming books which consistently rank in the top three on the New York Times Bestseller List. His secret? He takes three common words and strings them together (Rumple/Stilt/Skin) until they sound so exotic and mysterious that even a Queen might not guess the name. Rip/Van/Winkle was a big fan until he fell into such a lengthy sleep that a good samaritan brought him to . . . (wait for it!) Snow White’s Sleep Disorder clinic. . . where he met up with The Princess and the Pea (who was there successfully curing her inability to get a good night’s rest on green produce!) and the rest they say, is Happily-Ever-After History!

Always Snoozing! These former lazy princesses have awakened to bigger and better things!

That Time God Left Me a Voicemail

It all began when my cellular device accidentally went through the washing machine for an entire 60-minute cycle. I couldn’t believe what I had done when I spied its bright pink case as I transferred the rest of the bedsheets into the dryer. Nooooo! I disliked Siri, but tumble-drying her seemed a bit harsh, so I plucked out my smartphone and immediately submerged it into a bag of rice, remembering reading that was the recipe to resuscitate it after drowning.

As luck (my luck at least!) would have it, a grain of rice wedged itself into the speaker’s tiny crevice and thus began my intricate surgery with tweezers, needles, safety pins, and the sharp metal teeth of a lice comb….yes ewww! With zero success, I resigned myself to having a working phone but without any sound, while my wisecracking teenager suggested I run it through the washing machine to dislodge the rice.

For days I learned to make do. I changed my outgoing message so it advised people to please text or email me instead. For the stubborn few that refused to do that, I relied heavily on the transcription my cellphone would type out for me as it played back someone’s totally garbled, muffled voicemail. Yesterday came this surprising and miraculous interpretation:

Yes, this is God calling on Wednesday afternoon. I understand you’re dissatisfied with the service you’ve been receiving. I’ll try you again soon to discuss.

Seriously? Oh my God! How did he get my number? (And I hope my number isn’t up!) I wouldn’t say I was ‘dissatisfied’ with his service, but a few more of my prayers could’ve easily been answered. And when I said “God bless you” to my kids after they sneezed, he might’ve done a little something extra for them, I mean it’s not like they’re adults wanting a new car or a job — they’d be totally thrilled with a silly party favor or discovering an extra cookie on their life path.

I looked at my incoming log to see about getting back to him (how can you ignore God’s calling??) fully expecting it to be listed as “Blocked” or “Unknown Caller” but there was an actual 1-800 number. Just like God to arrange to be reachable to the masses toll-free! But then I realized with the rice jamming my speaker, there still wouldn’t be clear audio, and I’d hate to keep saying “Pardon?” and wasting God’s time in case he wasn’t enrolled in the unlimited minutes plan.

I re-recorded my outgoing message, this time with a emphatic plea. “Hi this is Stephanie, but Good Lord please PLEASE text me because my speaker is broken!” I then excitedly entered God’s phone number into my contacts with his name in all capital letters followed by three exclamation points. (Three seemed like an appropriate number because of all that trinity stuff, even though I’m Jewish.) I also decided to give God his own ring-tone as well — The William Tell Overture.

And sure enough this time he followed directions and my screen lit up with a text from “GOD!!!”  Here is an exact replication of our text chat.

“GOD!!!” — Hi. When is a good time to pop on over?

(Good heavens! I needed time to clean up my house and maybe cook something spectacular to serve. Wow just think ….soon I’ll be serving God.)

Me: Gosh, um well about how long do you think you’ll stay?

GOD!!! — With any luck at all, it won’t take long.

Me: Oh I don’t think you’ll need luck. I have total faith in you.

GOD!!! — How refreshing. A month ago you cursed me out.

Me: If I EVER did that, I want to humbly apologize. I beg of you.

GOD!!! — You’re forgiven. That’s just the way I roll. But with a few quick adjustments, you’ll be good to go watching Life Time in a flash!

Me: Oh no! I don’t want to watch my Life flash before my eyes. I know what that means.

GOD!!! — No worries! But if there’s a man, he’ll be glad I’m stopping over before the big fight tonight.

Me: (bashfully) Oh God, there IS a special guy in my life right now. All thanks to you. And I appreciate your heads up that there will be a fight. We never argue, but I’ll bake some brownies to appease him just in case.

GOD!!! — Sure, whatever.

(Wait till my kids hear that they’re in such good company saying, “whatever!” and “No worries!”)

As I nervously awaited God’s visit, my mother called. I answered on the first ring and told her I was tied up writing an article I was about to submit to Redbook magazine. As an atheist, I knew she’d never believe I would be busy entertaining God. My cell rang again and I let it go into voicemail but quickly glanced at the transcript to make sure it wasn’t God calling to say he was caught in traffic.

“Hi, it’s your Dom. I’m wondering if you’re still tied up? I want to discuss your submission.”

What kind of a kinky message was this?  Wait. A. Second. It was becoming clear to me now. My cell’s transcribing app had mistakenly typed the word “Dom” instead of “Mom.”

And that’s why just three minutes later, after the door knocked loudly three (of course three!) times, I was completely prepared to see standing on my doorstep not God (in the flesh!) but instead …. Rod, (acting a little fresh!) that obnoxious millennial worker from my local cable company here to fix my poor television reception.

 

Creating a Fight to Make Sure You Argue Effectively!

Well, well well …. you knew one day it would come to this, right? In my defense, the problem is that I read too much. If only my eyes hadn’t landed on the glaring headline, “All Couples Fight, but Here’s How Successful Couples Do It!”

ALL couples?? Gulp. I grew immediately panic-stricken when I realized there hadn’t been any arguments in the new relationship I was in. Not. A. Single. One. What was wrong with us? How would we ever know if we were a successful couple? We have been putting all this time and energy into having a stress-free relationship and now that was going to be counterproductive.

We’d never even had a slight disagreement about something as innocuous as our food preferences. One of us will say, “Mushrooms are a fungus and I can’t stand them or anyone who eats them.” And the other will nod empathetically and say, “The world will not be safe until mushrooms are eradicated!” and then we’ll order a plain cheese pizza to seal our bond over the common enemy.

At first I tried to calm down by reminding myself this article was just click-bait or an urban legend. But Snopes confirmed it to be true. In fact, there were links to other supporting evidence like, “Couples Who Argue Together, Stay Together, Research Finds.”  OMG! You cannot state, “Research Finds” blatantly in your title if research does not actually find it! My new boyfriend and I were doomed.

Unless I acted prudently and propelled us quickly and effectively down the road of quarreling. But how? And over what? It should happen organically and naturally, I thought. Fortunately that’s exactly the point when this surfaced in my newsfeed. “4 Fights Every Couple Must Get Through Because They’ll Actually Bring You Closer.”

Aha…a roadmap! We could make up for lost time by closely following the steps to these four recommended fights all in one day. I quickly committed the article to memory and dialed my boyfriend’s number. “Play it cool, Stephanie” I chastised myself. “Ease into it.”

Me: Hi. How are you? I don’t want to have any children. I think the world isn’t a good place to bring kids into.

Him: But what will you do with the six you already have? Also you’re 55 years old.

Me: (flustered) I am not.

Him: Are so.

Me: Am not.

Him: Are so.

Things were going along swimmingly like this for several hours until he finally conceded that I looked more like I was in my mid-forties and so obviously my Match profile must’ve had a typo — then he gallantly apologized. He hung up after saying he adored me. Well that qualified as completing our first official fight, but there still were three more arguments to get through. I dialed him back.

Me: I’m not feeling heard by you.

Him: Shouldn’t you say something first so I can hear it?

Me: That’s not how I mean the word ‘heard.’

Him: Oh! Herd? Where would you like me to herd you? We could go to dinner or a movie with a very large group of people? We could visit sheep? We could…

Me: (exasperated) I mean that you don’t listen to me.

Him: (Silence)

Me: Hello? Are you there?

Him: Yes. I’m listening.

Me: Our communication styles are totally different.

Him: Still listening.

Me: See? You never participate by volunteering your point of view. You just sit there quietly, only focused on listening to me.

This argument got completed and checked off the list in record time! He told me I wasn’t making any sense and then we were off to the races with things really escalating and it ended with him suggesting we see a therapist. Yes! We should go immediately and as luck would have it, tonight there was an opening. Because at this point, I was more than grateful to have a counselor guide us through the other two disagreements more professionally.

Me: I’m dissatisfied with the frequency we have intimate relations.

Him: Completely the first time I’m hearing this from her.

Therapist: Stephanie, would you like to have intimate relations more or less than you’re currently having them?

Me: (Damn my menopausal memory. Quickly trying to google that last article to find the answer) Uh, um….well… Give me just a second to decide.

Therapist: While she’s thinking it over, are there any other issues you’re having?

Him: None. Prior to today, we had zero trouble.

Therapist: Interesting. Stephanie would you agree that you haven’t had any problems until just now?

Me: Shoot. Don’t you get internet up here on the eighth floor? What’s your wi-fi password?

Therapist: Would you like to answer that last question, Stephanie?

Me: Well just going from sheer memory, there was one final 4th argument. Let me see….oh yes…one of us inherited a ton of money from the recent death of a parent and now we’re disagreeing on whether that money should go in our joint bank account.

Therapist: I’m very sorry for your loss. And that’s a super common argument for married couples to have.

Him: We’re not married.

Me: Are so.

Him: Are not.

Me: Are so.

Him: Are so.

Me: Are not . . .

Again, I was extraordinarily pleased with the expediency of our getting through all four of the recommended arguments in less than 24 hours, when suddenly the therapist intervened.

Therapist: I’m afraid you’ll have to continue this super UNcommon argument on your own time. Our session is over and I’m meeting my own husband for a delicious mushroom pizza!

In that instant my boyfriend and I both made equally intense expressions of disgust and revulsion. We linked our arms together and shot daggers with both sets of our extremely compatible eyes toward our mutual enemy, as we went home to partake in extremely satisfying intimate relations at just the right frequency.

READERS: What’s your opinion? Does every couple argue? And is how well you argue predictive of the future quality of your relationship? And most importantly, are you a mushroom lover?

Confusion! Is This a Public Blog or My Personal Diary?

The best (and worst!) gift I ever received was on my twelve birthday when my mother gave me a rainbow unicorn sequined covered diary with a tiny padlock and key and told me it was to record all my private thoughts. Looking back, perhaps she never uttered the word “private?” That would make sense and would explain why on the inside first page I had scrawled, “If found, please return to Stephanie at the following address:______. Under no circumstances should this diary be opened because it contains all my best secrets!”

On the back inside cover I’d painstakingly written, “Like what you’ve read? Are you an editor, publisher or producer? If so, we should talk!” And then printed my phone number with instructions to call collect. Obviously I thought my future huge royalties would cover any long distance charges. Hey, I was nobody’s fool! I’d heard of Go Ask Alice whose druggie days detailed in her entries were made public after she overdosed, and of course The Diary of Anne Frank which was immortalized in libraries forever. I just planned on having fame happen to me without the death part.

During the next five years, I used my diary for composing awful poetry, true confessions, angry tirades, fantasy crushes, and to trick nosy people like my brother (who I was certain was reading it while I was out on dates) into believing that our mother was planning to take him to Disneyland if he treated me a lot nicer. (Yes I stole that idea from a Brady Bunch episode.)

My mother also confiscated my diary during some particularly angsty teenage turbulence and took it to a psychiatrist, using it as evidence to obtain a prescription for Prozac for me.

This little journal of mine was also the impetus which had me wondering what other diarists were writing behind their own locks and keys? And that was the start of my digging into the dresser drawers of my cousins during family gatherings, my friends’ closets when I was invited to their home after school — often turning up paragraphs that were about me, saying some not so nice things. One or two diary authors even had the nerve to write, “That Stephanie sure has become a prying busybody!” Hmmph, can you imagine?  So that’s what people really thought, but wouldn’t say so to my face!

My snooping addiction continued on for decades and I suppose I must now formally apologize to all the mothers/wives of the children I supervised and whose lingerie chests I rummaged through after I tucked their kids into bed and found their treasure trove of R-rated paraphernalia, amongst a few diaries, which contained absolutely nothing about me — and wouldn’t it have been awfully strange if they HAD written about their awkward babysitter? So please forgive me, ladies!

I soon graduated from ‘Diary Invading’ to ‘Eavesdropping’ and I accomplished that by quietly listening in on extensions of landline telephones, putting my ear to the walls of closed doors, and even playing messages left on other people’s answering machines by obtaining their 3-digit remote codes which were stamped underneath. But who could blame me? By that time I had learned that you never knew what anyone truly thought of you unless you investigated thoroughly. You can read about my spying sprees  HERE and  HERE.

Fast forward to present day and this blog. I sometimes find myself elaborately filtering my content (just as I strategically planned out what I’d put in my diary all those years ago) by calculating who exactly my readers will be. Many times I’ll edit and delete confidential truths that would make me feel extremely vulnerable and exposed if ex-husbands, old boyfriends, relatives, girlfriends, or my own children perused my posts. And they definitely do! Other times I get extremely brave and throw caution to the wind like THIS ONE.

In fact, the reactions of followers who know me in real life never ceases to amaze me no matter how careful I am. Some are furious when something they’ve said gets incorporated into an article, yet there’s nothing attributing the cleverness of the remark to them. (I’ve started accommodating them with footnotes and bibliographies.) Then there’s my 1st ex-husband who doesn’t waste his “valuable” time reading here, but will often send me cease and desist letters because a mutual friend has told him, “Uh oh. Stephanie’s at it again, saying negative things about your engineering personality being as much fun as getting a cavity filled after getting your appendix removed.” I’ll manage to convince him that the insult was really aimed toward dentists and surgeons, because how could anyone ever disparage his “sparkling” disposition?? He’ll agree wholeheartedly and we’ll hang up wishing each other well.

Here are other typical responses from people I’m connected to:

My Mom — I don’t do those controlling things you say I do in your blog. I hope your readers know what a wild imagination you have! By the way, a little Prozac would help you settle down.

My 2nd Ex-Husband — Remember…our divorce decree specifically states on page 7, paragraph 12 that from this date forward, I am to be hereby referenced solely as “1st-ex-husband, The Engineer” in all of your publications.

Boyfriend — You’re taking notes in your head about our date tonight, aren’t you? Here, let me open the car door for you. Let me get the check. I didn’t realize you were allergic to daffodils. Next time, roses for sure. My name is spelled with a G not a J for Yelp review purposes.

Daughter — Thanks a lot, Mom. I just failed my Department of Motor Vehicles exam because the test driver who took me out is a follower of your blog and read this POST!

Son — My seventh grade teacher reads your blog regularly but still marked me as an unexcused absence yesterday for Rosh Hashanah. Can you write one of your really long and boring,  um… humorous posts about Judaism and make sure it spells out that I was dutifully sitting next to you in synagogue yesterday? Thanks and Shalom, Mom!

God — Hello down there, Stephanie D. Lewis! What in God’s My Name do you think you’re doing? You’ve reduced me to a mere online presence just to get published  HERE in The Huffington Post? You don’t think I’m a subject matter worthy of at least something people hold tangibly in their hands and often find in hotels? Like People Magazine??!

Writers: Do you ever modify your blog posts based on who you think could be out there reading? Or do you just write whatever you want, no holds barred? Readers: Do you get annoyed when you show up in someone’s writing?

How Can You Want What You Already Have?

Many readers individually messaged me to journey further into my last blog post “What Happens When the Honeymoon Phase is Over?”

So awaaaaay we go . . .

  1. You’re eating your third pralines and cream ice-cream cone. It’s your favorite flavor and you’ve had a real craving because it’s been forever since you treated yourself to it. How many licks into it do you still really and truly have strong interest for it? Maybe a bag of salty Lays potato chips is starting to sound better right about now?
  2. You always wanted to be a novelist. It was your life’s dream. And now you’ve put out three books — congratulations on achieving your goal! Ho hum, now it’s feeling kinda old hat. What’s next on your bucket list? Becoming a literary agent … a professional who helps others reach their own writing goals. Now THAT sounds fascinating, right?
  3. You’re in a relationship with someone you thought was highly intriguing, rather mysterious, and definitely “hard-to-get.” But they finally noticed you and now you’ve settled in for a monogamous commitment. How is it then that your bedroom life has become a predictable yawn, and why do your eyes zero in on the next elusive stranger who happens to flit by?

Of course the common thread in all three scenarios is … Desire. What propels it and what causes it to dissipate? Is a burning desire as simple as wanting what we cannot have? “The grass is always greener” or “The Forbidden Fruit?” Lets take that last phrase literally for a moment. If you hear a newsflash that after tomorrow bananas will be outlawed, what will go through your head? Yes, it will soon be illegal to grow them, ingest them, or use them in slapstick comedy … so of course what will you suddenly want more than anything, starting tomorrow? Even if you never really cared for them in the first place. That’s right….get peeling! Cuz you’re about to go bananas for bananas.

Every failed dieter knows this lesson when their “Last Supper” on Sunday night consists of everything the new diet deems “off-limits” come Monday morning.

Impending scarcity leads to desire!

But what can lead to maintaining desire?? Is it as simple as remembering that “Variety is the spice of life?” Sticking with the banana metaphor here — let’s say bananas actually have always been your all-time favorite food. And some new wacky reality television gameshow will pay you to eat nothing but bananas. In fact each day that you consume only bananas, you’ll earn a hundred dollars. (Being paid to eat your favorite food? Piece of cake! Or banana cream pie!) But I’ll wager you won’t leave the show with anywhere close to a thousand bucks in your pocket. And what do you wanna bet that you split (banana split?) even sooner than a week? Yes bananas quickly became extremely Dole dull, didn’t they?

Feast or Famine!

So if desire (and lack thereof) is predicated on levels of deprivation and/or abundance, is it possible to sustain our hunger, yearning, aching, lusting, hankering, coveting something (or someone) once we secure it? I’m going to go out on a limb here by stating that we attempt to maintain passion and desire by the unconscious act of pushing away the things that we really want, keeping ourselves in a constant state of arousal? Psychologists take note: maybe it’s not the “fear of failure” that causes us to self-sabotage after-all? Maybe it’s just the brain’s way of keeping us interested.

Still not convinced? Why does a dog bury a bone when he knows it’s possible to indulgently sleep with the bone 24/7 in its bed or doghouse. But nooooooo. The dog hides the bone from himself so it has some distance from the bone and can sorely miss the bone. Later it becomes a thrilling surprise to happen to be digging in the backyard garden and whoa… would you look at that? It’s baaaaaack! Alright don’t go Googling this because you’ll find some silly explanation about how dogs need to instinctively protect their food from other predators because it hearkens back to the days before they were domesticated. Just do me a favor and stick with me on this.

However if you think my theories are for the dogs, let me get more human with you. On this blog it’s no secret my life romances haven’t sustained themselves longer than ten years. Early in my first marriage as a young and immature woman, I actually created arguments out of thin air with my new husband. I couldn’t figure out why I did this repeatedly until it dawned on me that our reconciliation was super exciting to me. I would bring myself to the brink of “losing something” so I could reawaken my desire for it once again and have the challenge (and satisfaction) of earning it back. Makeup sex anyone?

Only slightly more mature, I enter into a second marriage secretly thrilled that this husband travels frequently for business so I’ll have time and space to actually pine for him. Whenever he returned, things instantly became new and fresh again! Judaism understands how physical separation enhances a marriage, and actually will sometimes promote it as a side benefit to Family Purity Laws. Curious? Read more HERE.

In my next long-term relationship, (where I somehow manage to grow even more selfish and immature) I calmly ended things after they became overly predictable and lackluster some five years later. But this time, rather than trying to manipulate and trick desire into coming back . . . surprise (!) — desire had its own way with me when I least expected it. And was it ever painful.

Because another woman found my carelessly discarded ex-boyfriend to be the answer to her dreams and quickly nabbed him, my sudden reignited passion for him went through the roof, and let me just say that I became extremely physically ill realizing how playing mind-games and trying to control and manipulate had backfired on me big time. I then proceeded to (single-handedly!) help all the authors of books titled, “How to Get Your Ex Back, Even If You Were the One Who Broke Up” send their kids to college. Not a proud moment.

Does Stephanie ever stop riding a Streetcar Named Desire?

I will abruptly end here without telling you the answer (so your desire for me to post more about this topic stays heightened?) but I want to leave you with a terrific video from Esther Perel that has over 3.5 million views and counting. Click on THIS (but be sure and skip the ad, sorry!) and then leave me a comment with your thoughts. And I hereby promise to always want you as a follower, even if you already are one!

                                       Where did I purposely bury my heart’s desire????

What Happens After The Honeymoon is Over?

         Going, going . . . GONE!

 

They say it’s inevitable and happens to all relationships. Who are “They??” I hate them! The initial magic starts to fade, the rush of learning new things as a “couple” subsides, the novel unpredictability and the exciting challenge starts to feel like a sure thing and a walk in the park with your eyes closed. And yes you can get mugged when you walk in the park with your eyes closed, but that’s not the novel unpredictability you want. Boredom sets in. Then the fact that you’re bored sends you into questioning the relationship and soon you’re googling, “How to Regain that Spark” and finding over 1.6 million of these kind of titles right HERE.

My First Husband told me we would never have to worry about this problem because he had the perfect solution — after the wedding, we would simply not embark on a traditional honeymoon trip. If it never began, it could never end. Logic like this is only one of the hundreds of reasons he will continue to be justifiably referred to as “My First Husband.”

My Second Husband and I had a whirlwind courtship and married rather quickly so our honeymoon phase was quickly interrupted by extreme morning sickness, baby preparations, and worries about Down Syndrome when test results came back highly elevated. Luckily our daughter was born perfectly healthy, but our romantic life was no longer “highly elevated.” Sadly, that elevator never went above the bargain basement floor after all the newfound responsibilities of parenting kicked our butts.

After my second divorce, my obsession with keeping the Honeymoon Stage alive kicked into high gear and truly began in earnest. We’re talking a full-time job, (I wasn’t just moonlighting in Honeymooning!) and I was determined to think outside the (Victoria’s Secret shipping) box.

Here are the tactics, tips, tricks, and techniques I tried, but to no avail:

FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT: Notice that is NOT a typo. The phrase doesn’t read, “Familiarity Breeds Content.” Therefore I decided if part of the problem was we eventually knew each other inside and out, I would be intentionally mysterious and hard to pin down. Here was how that looked . . .

HIM: So what’s your favorite color?

ME: Why do you ask?

HIM: I’d like to buy you something.

ME: I feel it’s too soon to release that information, so I’ll just say Rainbow. My favorite color is rainbow.

HIM: Yeah, my choices are yellow, red, or pink. Roses don’t come rainbow. Never mind that. What’s your favorite ice-cream flavor, I’ll pick some up.

ME: It’s not Rocky Road. It’s not Cookies N’ Cream. It’s not Salted Caramel, it’s not Mint Chip, it’s not ….

HIM: Oh my god, woman. What IS it then?

ME: If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.

ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER: I really thought I had it right with this one! I intentionally put physical distance between us as often as I could, encouraging him to go on lengthy business trips, scheduling back to back writer’s conferences, and going out with girlfriends instead of more frequent dates with him. Surely I would miss him, crave him, pine for him, and then our eventual reunion would be off the charts Electric! Uh…apparently there’s this whole other conflicting adage that goes like this – “Out of sight, out of mind!” And sadly, that’s the one that ruled my heart. I soon forgot what exactly attracted me to him in the first place, and if I was doing so fine and dandy alone, what was even the point of reconvening??

THIS WON’T HAPPEN TO US: This is the tact you take when you think that you and your new lover are different from the rest of the population and can beat the system if you approach it preventatively. Clear out your bookshelves, add more storage space on your cellphone, and make room on your calendar, because you will buy so many enrichment books, download so many relationship podcasts, and attend so many Couple’s Workshops that you could power the sunrise on a cloudy day with all your romantic insights. Except the sun WILL eventually set on the honeymoon stage for you two as well. And so you should now resort to . . .

DAZZLING, DARING, DOPAMINE: Supposedly this is the neurotransmitter that makes it all so incredible!  If you can maintain high levels of this compound in your brain, you’ve got it made in the shade. But don’t stay in the shade! Get out into the sunshine and go parasailing, sky-diving, windsurfing, skiing, river-rafting, and rollercoaster riding! But as you’ll soon find out, you should break up with your mate and start dating the owner of Groupon. Do you know how expensive all of this adventurous stuff is to do? Not to mention the cost of landing in the ER with a broken rib or a sprained ankle. There has to be a better way?

THE BETTER WAY: Many of my Couple Friends state this, “Stephanie, you’ll actually be grateful when the Honeymoon Stage wears off. Because that’s when the real deep and truly satisfying intimacy begins and you go to a whole new level that there’s just no way to articulate. Believe us when we say there’s nothing like the intuitive knowledge of finishing your partner’s sentences for them and then falling asleep to the rhythmic sounds of their snores.” Essentially they are saying, “Forget dopamine. Serotonin is where it’s at!” These are the same people who become diabetic and can never eat sugar again but will try to convince you, “I never realized just how sweet broccoli tastes. It’s indescribable.” These are highly suspect individuals for sure!

Readers: If you’ve found a surefire way to keep the Honeymoon Stage everlasting, please put it in the comments section. Alternatively, if you know the reason why it’s totally unimportant to do so, please also chime in the comments section — I beg of you! For now, I’m sticking to the conclusion that when you’re with the absolute right person, it doesn’t take hard work, contrived behaviors, or gimmicks — it all just unfolds the way it’s supposed to. Stay tuned for an update on my fairytale hypothesis!

Science says THIS has an expiration date. Noooooooo!

Improvements I’m Making In the World of Romance & Love

Why should finding a job be the only thing we have Resumes for?

Why should restaurants, hotels, and spas/salons be the only thing we have Yelp reviews for?

Why should computers, cellphones, cars, or boardgames be the only stuff that comes with a User Guide or an Instruction Manual?

 

Introducing The Romance Resume (using myself as an example)

 

 Stephanie D. Lewis

1964 You’ve Met Your Match Rd. — Soulmateville, ME

icleanupnice@gmail.com

 

SUMMARY

A wide range of endeavors with previously committed, conflicted partners has enabled me to overlook most people’s personality flaws while still suggesting 11-mile beach walks. Romantic scenarios and awkward intimate situations handled with aplomb.

EXPERIENCE

HOT MESS IN SAN DIEGO (Marriage — 10 Years)

  • 15% Hot, 85% Mess
  • Performed wifely duties even when nobody was watching
  • Great vocabulary, frequently used the word “aplomb” with great aplomb
  • Laughed at his jokes as if hearing them for the very first time
  • Packed him interesting lunches with a high trade-in value at the office
  • Apologized easily using “I” messages to own up to mistakes: “I’m sorry I married a humorless engineer such as yourself!”
  • Hung up phone expediently during conversations, often when he was mid-sentence
  • Gracefully accepted hair growing into Farrah Fawcett style, (thus saving on salon visits!) even though trend ended four decades ago.
  • Spearheaded meetings with interpersonal discussions that started with, “If your mother and I were on a sinking boat that didn’t have enough life vests, who would you jump in and save first?

SLEEPLESS, SPOTLESS, SCENTLESS, SCHEDULE-LESS, SCALE-LESS,  IN SEATTLE (Marriage — 9 + Years)

  • High-functioning spouse even with severe insomnia, losing dog named Spot, zero perfume or candles, never writing down important appointments, or weighing herself
  • Exuberant in non-stop rainy weather
  • Skilled in TV remote delegation
  • No special preference for a side of the bed
  • Met all sexual deadlines
  • Exceeded all dust-mite quotas

DEFINITELY DESTINY FOR STEPHANIE (Girlfriend/Fiancé — 6 Years)

  • Intentionally left off the accent mark in correspondence when using the word ‘fiancé’ so it looked like I was an expert in finance instead of being engaged
  • Attended all necessary office socialization events with him, nodding appropriately to his co-workers and saying, “Yes, I can verify that!” each time he spoke
  • Instinctively changed name to Bethany (which rhymed with Stephanie) when reputation as Stephanie became tarnished, damaging those associated with her
  • Carved baked potatoes into subliminally seductive shapes, then wrapped them in tinfoil to set the evening mood
  • Painted red-flags pink

AWARDS/ACHIEVEMENTS/AFFLICTIONS

Knows all lyrics to The Winner Takes it All by Abba and lapses into them at opportune moments

Voted Most Likely to Look Okay From Far Away With Your Glasses Off in high school

Listens to friends’ troubles and problems, offering sound advice I would never think to follow myself

Went the entire year without eating so much of a sliver from the top layer of our frozen wedding cake which was meant to be thawed out and shared together on our first anniversary according to Bridal Magazine. Smashed entire thing into his face when he called it “a stupid and pointless tradition,” thus efficiently making up for not doing this cute little feeding ritual at our actual wedding reception.

Consistently phoned a happily married pair of friends every day for a month on their landline, sat silently until they each accused the other one of having an affair — then expediently provided them with the business card of our Couples’ Therapist so she wouldn’t have an empty appointment slot in the middle of her schedule after my boyfriend and I broke up and cancelled our ongoing sessions.

EDUCATION

Studied Ginger Grant’s walk on Gilligan’s Island

Mentored by Lucy Ricardo

Graduated Charm School w/ Post Alpha Bitta Cereal honors

 

Introducing The Love Yelp Review (Example written by 2nd husband)

***** 8/02/19

Stephanie D. Lewis was my first and last foray into Liouve. That is not a typo as she puts the “I Owe You” into Love. When I first met Stephanie, her customer service was wonderful, her product was unique, and she was a great value for the time and energy I spent on her. As years went by, the Stephanie D. Lewis no longer had a laid back atmosphere and she became a bit dry and underseasoned, although the humor she provided still had a real kick to it. Parking is limited around her exterior and if you stay overnight you can expect to be towed at your own expense. All in all, I would say you won’t Yelp too much during your relationship, but you should still expect lingering pain. Oh! Bring an umbrella as she hates the sun, and beware of the subtle yet shapely baked potatoes, which she serves with great aplomb.

Introducing a Personal Direction Sheet (written example by Hasbro)

The object of ‘Stephanie Perfection’ is to see which of the two partners stay sanest at the game’s conclusion. Play commences in one shared home as your opponent utters something extremely agitating, immediately followed by “Sorry!” and the slam of a door. Do not pass the kitchen, do not collect a home-cooked meal. Soon you’ll find yourself in a little room racing the timer to fit all the yellow shapes into a vibrating pop-up tray before it buzzes and rudely jolts you into an adrenaline rush. But tell me does she kiss like I used to kiss you? Does it feel the same when she calls your name? Somewhere deep inside, you must know I miss you. But what can I say, rules you must obey. So the winner takes it all. And the loser has to fall. The winner takes it all, the loser standing small. Besides her victory, that’s her destiny. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOlEsQxmKGc

 

 

 

 

 

Readers: Which one do you think could be a viable future tool for daters? A Romance Resume, a Love Yelp Review, or a Personal User’s Guide?