The Security Guard’s Relationship With Me (That He Didn’t Know He Was Having!)

It all started one day this past summer after moving to a townhouse inside a gated community with a real live security guard who sits in a little shack by the entrance and monitors everyone’s comings and goings. You know the modern version of the kind who shouts, “Hark! Who Goes There?”

As I unpacked boxes — lamenting my lack of closet space, my phone rang with news that my little Shih-Tzu had been picked up by the Gate Guard. “Thank goodness her collar tags still reflect my same cell number even though my address has changed,” I said aloud as I rushed over to claim my Lola.

“Better be careful with this little one,” admonished the Gate Guard with raised eyebrow, “She almost crossed that busy street.” Great. The Gate Guard thinks I’m a negligent pet owner now.

That night we ordered pizza. Obviously. What family doesn’t order pizza on moving day? My cellphone rang and as I answered it, I heard the gate guard tell the driver that it sure smelled good. Guiltily, I granted permission for him to let Papa Antonio’s delivery service through the gate. “Extra cheese??” the Gate Guard commented to me in what could have been considered a very indicting tone. Great. The Gate Guard knows I’m lactose intolerant and undisciplined now.

The more people who came to see my new place, the more self-conscious I became. It seemed to me the Gate Guard knew everything about my life just from the types of visitors I had. “I wonder why so many men come through here asking for her address?” I imagined him contemplating luridly. After the fifth guy came before noon, I felt an explanation was needed. “You see, I’ve been having a lot of work done on my place today and right now I have a clogged toilet and a hornet’s nest on my back patio,” I offered weakly when he called to get my okay for two more fellows named, “Buzz Hoff” and “John’s Flush” to be let through.

“Uh huh. Whatever,” the Gate Guard said flippantly. Great. The Gate Guard thinks I’m running a house-of ill-repute now. How judgmental.

It wasn’t long before I was certain the Gate Guard (Whom I’d taken to referring as “GG” now) formulated a strong hunch that I wasn’t much of a cook. I pictured him welcoming Chinese, Greek, Mexican, and yes more Italian food trucks into our community and pointing them all toward my place with sort of a disapproving look on his face. And that’s why, when I passed him by one day on foot on the way to the mailboxes, I felt obliged to let him know my oven was broken. “I’m sure it is,” he responded, grinning widely. Great. GG knows I’m a liar now. 

GG also became quite familiar with my mother and probably thought it was really lame that she’d already come over here 18 times in the two weeks since I’d moved in. That accounts for the reason I exclaimed loudly out my rolled-down car window the next time I exited through his shack, “We’re Jewish!” while he looked bewildered and yelled out after I passed, “Well….Shalom then, I guess!” Great. GG thinks I’m a religious fanatic now. Such Chutzpa!

During a stressful week that was particularly prolific with pizza, GG (who also rides around on a golf-cart patrolling our neighborhood, ridding us of burglars and kidnappers, but probably more often dealing with sidewalk solicitors) passed me walking on the street late at night and slowed down to ask real friendly-like, “Getting some much needed exercise after all that pizza?” Great. GG thinks I’m getting fat now. What nerve.

“I have two constantly hungry teenagers,” I justified. “And I only eat the veggie toppings and spit out the cheese!” Great. GG knows I have an eating disorder now.

When he passed me by again a full 2.5 hours later, still riding on his stupid golf-cart, he came to a complete stop this time looking incredulous and inquired, “Still walking??”

“Yes. I have to stay out here until my pedometer says 11 miles or until my watch says 11:11pm, whichever comes second.” He gave a weird little nod, issued a tentative wave, and sped quickly away. Great. GG knows I have obsessive compulsive disorder now. 

During Thanksgiving, I had my mother and a few other family members over for dinner, all except my four older kids who sadly all moved far away. I noticed GG was burning the midnight oil in his little guard shack after my guests departed. I decided to take him a food care-package because everyone deserves to eat turkey and pumpkin pie. When he slid open his glass door I said, “You’re the same age as my son who couldn’t come home tonight. Thought you’d enjoy.” He took it, thanked me, but added that his own mother was keeping dinner warm for him. He emphasized the words, “My OWN MOTHER.” Great. GG thinks I’m some sad little empty-nester who wants to adopt him now. 

A few days later, a survey came in the mail asking how the community has been running? It also asked for feedback on certain employees, including the Gate Guards, of which there were several. I filled it out and wrote a comment specifically about GG which went like this, “GG does his job okay, but he’s very presumptuous and jumps to all sorts of conclusions about my lifestyle. He’s nosy and invades privacy. I would appreciate it if you’d tell him to keep his opinions to himself, otherwise you should probably fire him because he makes your residents feel very uncomfortable.” I then realized I didn’t know his real name so they wouldn’t know who I was specifically referring to.

I drove down to the shack and knocked matter-of-factly until GG opened the window and I could lean my head in closer to scrutinize his name badge. He instinctively took a few steps back so I couldn’t read anything at all. Great. GG thinks I’m a Mrs. Robinson type and I’m here to seduce him now. And so I said, “Relax, I just need your name.”

“My name is Gregory Garrison, but my good friends call me GG. And by the way your pumpkin pie was better than my moms, you’re an excellent cook and the nicest, most interesting resident I’ve met since working here. They told me if I don’t get enough good reviews, I’m going to be let go after Christmas. I just wanted to tell you that you’ll be the one I’ll miss the most.”

I stood with my mouth wide open, completely dumbfounded. Great. GG probably thinks I’m shy and at a loss for words now.

But I wasn’t. I drove immediately home to erase my comment on the survey form. In it’s place I printed these emphatic words. “Gregory Garrison, (GG) is an asset to our community and should be given a raise for his competency…. but especially for his sweet, caring, personable behavior.

Dear Readers, Is there someone doing a regular job in your life that you are either completely oblivious to or have the wrong impression of? Reaching out or giving the benefit of the doubt is such a wonderful thing. Happy Holidays!

Advertisements

Another Star Is Born!

I just came home from watching Lady Gaga in the new remake of A Star is Born and please tell me I can’t be the only writer who, (after viewing a certain scene which I’ll call the “Aww Awwww AWWWWW…” scene” and you can watch it yourself right here starting at 1:20 if you promise to come back and finish reading!) really wishes that the act of writing was something more performance oriented. Something concretely tangible, or auditory and visual that an audience could enthusiastically cheer for as they watch mesmerized and spellbound with enormous respect and admiration.

Just picture this:

Another Star is Born

Bradley Cooper: I’d like to call up to the stage a good friend of mine who writes funny blogs so you can all witness her doing some incredible work in person.

Me: (In the wings offstage, shaking my head in humbled protest. My modest demeanor about to disintegrate any second as Bradley comes closer to me with that low, grumbly-rumbly voice of his, pulling me up firmly by the wrist, and whispering in my ear.)

Bradley Cooper: Here’s what we’re gonna do. You’re gonna come out and write that article I love.

Me: No, no, I can’t do it.

Bradley Cooper: You’re coming. Here we go. All you gotta do is trust me. That’s all you gotta do…”

Me: (Nervously climbing on stage in front of tens of thousands, taking the microphone and lowering it way down to the level of my laptop computer.)

Audience: (Screams, whoops, hollers, bursts of applause as a whirring noise emanates when the power is turned on.)

Me: (Tap, tap, tap, tap, point n’ click, copy n’ paste, looks up to sky, Googles ‘synonym for small horse.’ Types “pony.” Looks down at floor. Tap tap tap. Blows breath forcefully out from mouth upwards into a long sigh causing tuft of hair bangs to lift slightly toward the sky. Delete, delete, delete DELETE…. takes a slight awkward bow.)

Bradley Cooper: Let’s give her a big hand, folks!

Audience: (Filing out of seats to get ticket refunded.)

Alright so maybe there are other movies more suitable for substituting writing into the plot that might work better than a singing one. Let’s try . . .

“Dirty Freelancing”

Scene: Stephanie — a wild dark-haired neurotic woman, sits isolated in the back of a dimly lit room, bent over a computer with her hands moving violently over a keyboard, trying to find the submission guidelines for an online publication.

Patrick Swayze: Nobody puts Babyephanie in a corner!

Okay so maybe not a dancing film either.  Let’s see…I know! Ice-skating, like the Tanya Harding documentary.

“I, Margaret”

Stephanie rapidly types in fits of hysteria trying to get her brilliant words out before she forgets her own character’s motivation. A shadowy figure lurks behind and maniacally smashes down a hammer upon innocent Stephanie’s right hand, fingers and all. As she turns toward her attacker, Stephanie catches the eye of none other than Margaret Atwood. “I heard I might have a little competition with Handmaid’s Tale,” Margaret utters and then disappears through the open window.

What? It could happen!

But maybe this is a more likely scenario — Trying to get into the prestigious masters program for creative writing at the University of Iowa, (instead of Jennifer Beals auditioning to get into the famous ballet dance school in NYC)

FlashFiction

What a Feeling!

(Cue familiar music right HERE)

First when there’s nothing
But a slow hunt n’ peck dream
That your typos seems to hide
Deep inside your mind.
All alone I have cried
Silent consonants full of pride
In a world full of editors
Made of stone.
Well, I hear the tapping
Close my eyes, feel the rhythm
Wrap around
Take a hold of my shift key!
What a feelin’
Agents believin’
I can have it all
Now I’m typing for my life.
Take your passion
And give it a clever caption!
Stories come alive
You can publish right through your life…
The scene climaxes as three admitting professors watch wearily as I get a running start for my big long leap into the air, landing into a perfect breakdance head spin, balancing precariously on a typewriter while managing to pound out, “On a dark and stormy night” on an 8.5 x 11 paper. It impresses them and I’m accepted!
Maybe all this performance stuff is asking too much. I think the writing profession can easily be parlayed into important matters of social justice like in this memorable film . .
StephErin BrockoLewis

Author Stephanie Lewis sacrifices all her energy, time, children, and her busy social life to the total dedication in the pursuit of saving old-fashioned writers back in the typewriter era from getting poisoned by the new toxic rules of single-spacing after a period. She researched until her fingers were bloody raw and finally came up with this irrefutable evidence in order to form a class-action lawsuit and bring back double-spacing at the end of sentences for good, making her a hero to other midlife writers and the publishing industry extremely sorry they ever rejected a novel of hers that wasn’t in compliance with their dumb new rule.

Okay Readers — So what famous movie scene do you kinda, sorta, definitely fantasize you could realistically be in? Tell me in the comments.

 

Not Your Typical Mom & Pop Stores!

I recently watched a movie in one of those expensive theaters where a waitress comes and takes your order and then not only is there Surround Sound and Technicolor, but suddenly there’s “Scentaflick” as the sharp aroma of goat cheese mushroom pizza wafts throughout the cinema. But smells are so not the point. The point is that this was precisely when I realized what other innovative (and time saving!) businesses there could be if certain services and/or concepts were integrated together.

IMAGINE IF YOU WILL . . .

PediDine – Unique restaurant with delicious entrees served to patrons seated at booths with floor length tablecloths. And what’s happening down on the floor, obscured by all that fine linen? Lithe and limber spa employees crouch below giving relaxing foot massages and full-on pedicures, while podiatrists examine diners for signs of fallen arches or pronated ankles. Themed dishes are served with fitting names such as “Foot-long sandwiches” and “This Little Piggy Ate Roast Beef” while the house special is of course, “Polished PotaTOES with shiny, red clipped TomaTOES.

A Shrentist’s Office – This unique establishment will combine a competent shrink with a dentist office for all your one-stop therapy and cavity needs. Recline back in the chair as the hygienist tells you to open wide while a psychologist asks leading questions to crack wide open your dysfunctional childhood. Have a fluoride rinse and rinse away your bad memories simultaneously! When you hear, “C’mon, spit it out!” — will that mean the toothpaste in your mouth or your negative feelings about your mother-in-law? Only your Shrentist knows for sure!

Gyro-Gyno-Gym-o– A Triple Threat for the healthy, hungry, and fit woman! Eat this Mediterranean style lunch (combo of lamb and beef) while lying with your feet in the stirrups as a trained physician conducts your annual female exam. Afterwards, enjoy state-of the art equipment at the gym to help you with your kegel exercises so you can keep your visits to the above mentioned gynecologist to a minimum. Ghirardelli chocolate would complete the experience.

Drive & Strive To Look 25! – A DMV with a professional hairstylist and makeup artist on staff so you don’t have to look how you actually look in real life in the photo when your drivers license gets renewed for the next decade.

Backs & Tax – A chiropractor works on your aches and pains while a certified public accountant sits in the “back” room going over your financials! Come April 15th, the only extension you’ll need to worry about is the extension the back doctor showed you to lengthen and strengthen your spine!

Press N’ Dress – It’s Nordstrom with a functional dry-cleaners at the entrance. Bring your entire old wardrobe in for a complimentary wash and ironing — and since now you’ll have nothing to wear for the day, you’ll shop for more clothes! Talk about a win/win!

Y Not? – (Yoga, Yogurt, Yo-Yo, Yoko Ono!) It’s time for a trendy role reversal store! Forget hot yoga and Fro-Yo!  This Frozen Yoga studio (your mat is a sheet of ice) serves Hot Yogurt (And why not? You’ve heard that warm milk is relaxing, right??) Bonus – Every Sunday, Yoko leads a group meditation and each participant walks away with a free Yo-Yo favor because …well just because nothing else starts with a Y.

Push/Nip/Tuck/ — A maternity ward where as you give birth, a plastic surgeon stands by to give you a tummy tuck! Need I say more?

The CardioCake Factory – Full service Cheesecake Factory with servers bringing any item from the dessert menu into a workout room where stationary bikes, stairclimbers and ellipticals are programmed to burn the specific calories of whatever you ordered by the slice. Special pre-calculated treadmills (when you go overboard) set for, “I’m actually consuming an entire Cookies n’ Cream Dream Extreme!”

Wet Pet Vet Debt Bet Roulette! – Okay so the company name needs work, but animal lovers and gamblers unite! Walk in with your dog or cat and they’ll be immediately bathed and groomed, followed by a veterinarian giving them vaccines and thorough check-ups. Can’t afford any of this? Don’t fret or get upset because the waiting room is a legalized casino and odds are in your favor you’ll play slots to pay for shots!

Alright, so maybe that last one is a little far-fetched, but I’m still ordering the fillet of “Sole” at the PediDine restaurant!

READERS: WHAT BUSINESS IDEAS DO YOU HAVE THAT WILL BE A UNIQUE COMBINATION? PLEASE LEAVE IT IN THE COMMENTS.

Willy Wonka’s Long Lost SECRET Diary Has Surfaced!

Buried under the last surviving Oompa Loompa’s green wig, set designers uncovered an authentic journal penned by Mr. Wonka himself. Let’s take a look at a few of the entries.

First Entry

Dear Diary, doctor’s appointment today — Type 2 Diabetes. What to do, what to do? Gotta sell my life’s work. But will someone fork over billions of dollars to buy it?? (Or even just a

 

 

??

 

But hopefully nobody makes me a lowball offer or thinks it’ll be like taking candy from a baby. The suspense is terrible . . . I hope it’ll last.

Second Entry

My marketing/public relations person doesn’t like sugarcoating the truth and says the real estate market is glutted with chocolate factory listings. Oh no! She suggests a contest for someone to inherit it instead. Very creative! .

Third Entry

Had to sleep on the couch last night because wife won’t let me enter our bed unless I find a golden ticket hidden around the house. Genius. I know! That’s the system I’ll use to select who gets to tour my chocolate factory. Hmmm, where to put the tickets? My wife slips them in my Viagra bottles, but I think Scrumdiddlyumptious chocolate bars might be more effective.

Fourth Entry

There’s a problem. Apparently my PR person isn’t happy with the weird orange little men I have working in my factory and she particularly finds the name of their tribe, “The Oopsies Poopsies” very offensive. Suggests changing the name to “Oompa Loompas” and passing off their toilet as a chocolate river. Problem solved!

Fifth Entry

Ugh. Do I really look like Gene Wilder? Strike that. Reverse it.

Sixth Entry

Note to Self: Go on Shark Tank television show with my Lickable wallpaper before Slugworth does.

Seventh Entry

All five golden tickets seem to have been found by bratty kids. What’s up with that? Don’t buxom blondes eat chocolate anymore? I coulda started something with that older chick named Ruth (Mike Teevee’s mom) but I heard his “Snickers” when I held her hand and I was all “Butterfingers.” That “Smartie” little “Twix!” I’ve got a “Good N’ Plenty” mind to show him a thing or two from preventing my “Skor” with “Ruth, Baby.” Will think up my revenge later, Diary. . . it may be a bit of a stretch and it’s definitely gonna be a toughie . . . taffy!

Eighth Entry

Old man Grandpa Joe can barely get around. I think I’ll make fun of him during my grand entrance by walking with a cane and falling down into a somersault. Yes, that sounds like a good plan.

Ninth Entry

Today I tinkered around with the machine that manufactures three-course meal chewing gum. Won’t Violet’s father be surprised when he has a Snozberry for a daughter instead of a blueberry. Hee!

Tenth Entry

Darn! The great glass elevator is malfunctioning again. The dramatic climax won’t be quite the same if we have to climb the stairs up the fire escape.

Eleventh Entry

Veruca Salt wants one of my geese! And she wants it NOW!  I’ll have to send them on a wild goose chase instead. In fact, I have a strong feeling none of these kids are the right fit to run my factory. What was I thinking?  I’ve changed my mind and now I’m gonna have to scare them away by becoming eccentric. Plus there’s always a traumatic boat ride which could start off as a pitch black tunnel and turn into a psychedelic acid trip with visions of leaches crawling over people’s eyes and chickens getting murdered, or something. Still working on that part. But if all else fails, I’m going to install a lethal fan in the ceiling of the Fizzy Lifting Drink tower. That oughta deter EVERYONE. Mwahaha!

Twelfth Entry

Yes!!  I knew it all along. I’m actually a dead ringer for Johnny Depp!

Thirteenth Entry

Dear Diary, I don’t need a PR/Marketing person. . .  I need a lawyer! Life is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’ll be getting. But I’m getting sued for child endangerment!

Fourteenth Entry

Forget this goody-two-shoes Charlie Bucket chump and my providing housing for his entire unfortunate family– I’m leaving my chocolate factory to a Vermicious Knid.  And I’ll get Roald Dahl to write the sequel! But first I’ll suggest he use the pseudonym “Ronald Dahl” so us Americans don’t keep butchering his name. Yeah….that’s the (golden!) ticket!

Now Back …. By Popular Demand!

back by popular demand, newspaper article text

So…..what’s back??? Absolutely totally nothing is back. I’m just fascinated by this concept. A lot of times I’ll read “BACK! By Popular Demand!” as a headline for a product, a candidate rerunning for an election, a workshop being taught at a local university …. or even the title of one of “your” blogs!  And I think….”How do we actually know people have been demanding this??” Where is the proof? So I tried a little test in my own household to see how it would go over.

On the refrigerator, I posted an impromptu menu titled, “Tonight! Back By Popular Demand!” and then below it listed “Meatloaf, Asparagus, and Mashed Yams.” I left my cell phone on record mode and left the scene. And here’s what I got . . .

Youngest Daughter: Eww. Seriously?

Middle Son: Only explanation…. a homeless person has tried mom’s meatloaf.

2nd Eldest Son: I thought you were the one requesting Mom’s Worst Meal Ever?

One of the Twins: Betcha Benjamin did it as a practical joke and that was all mom needed to call it “popular.”

Benjamin: I’m de-twinning you just for that creepy and false accusation. Gross to the 10th power! Especially those dehydrated onions she disguises in her meatloaf as “flavored confetti.”

Ex-Husband: Whew! I thought you kids were finally losing it, requesting this atrocity.

ALL: So who’s the moron in our family asking for this slop?? (All eyes narrow suspiciously)

Finally my firstborn child comes into the kitchen with a black sharpie, crosses off the word “Back!” and replaces it with “Boycotted!”

And that ended that little experiment.

Okay, okay, so maybe my family was quickly onto me, but my Facebook Friends would probably fall for it! Plus it would allow me to do some boasting, albeit in a justifiable sort of way — meaning….it’s not my fault I’m posting this, YOU GUYS INSISTED.

Yesterday I put this up on Facebook and then waited for the compliments and kind words to roll in.

Hi everyone! — Normally I don’t do this kind of thing but ironically, a lot of you have been private messaging me, asking if by some chance there might be a link showcasing all my articles on The Huffington Post. Kind of like an online portfolio. Well coincidentally, there is …. just click HERE  !  And thanks everyone who wrote showing so much interest in my past work!

Then I sat back and awaited the praise from those who probably never realized I was published there.

The post got ZERO likes. Nobody commented. But the private messages started immediately. (And I mean this time, for real!) Here’s what I got . . .

 

Hi. Can you name the names of those who wrote to you asking for this link? I would like to speak to a few of them to confirm.

*****************************

Stephanie! Do you know the song “Glory Days” by The Boss — Springsteen?  Lol.

*****************************

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. And those who are too lazy enough to even try anymore, rest on their laurels.

******************************

Alrighty then. Ashamed, I put this up today:

To the one and only interested person who requested I put up my Huffington Post Link, or at least who agreed to say that they did — I can’t find your name on PayPal to send you the $100. Please contact me.

Enough with all this psychology of creating a need where normally there is none. I guess I’ll never make it as an advertiser/marketer. But suddenly in my snail mailbox appeared a postcard announcing, “Held Over Just 1 More Night By Popular Demand….Wicked!” Tickets = $250.

Haha, I thought. Yes, it would be nice to see that musical and find out what all the hoopla was about, but $250??  And now that I know for certain that phrase “By Popular Demand” is totally meaningless,  I’ll just call and see if I can get half-price tickets.

Armed with my newfound knowledge, I made my case on the phone while bargaining for seats like people do in garage sales, as the adamant Box Office Agent kept insisting, “Listen Lady. It’s being held over just one night by popular demand.” And I kept saying, “Of course it is. I’m sooooooo sure. Just give me the names of the patrons demanding the show stay around longer and I’ll fork over my money.” When finally she interrupted me to report, “Sorry Miss, my computer screen just announced we are entirely Sold Out. Better luck next time!”

Hmmph!  Well to cheer myself up I looked up discontinued comfort foods that were brought back by …. you guessed it…..popular demand. Have a look right HERE and then have a consoling Twinkie with me!

Really? Does THIS SHOW ever get an extended run??

 

 

Debating or Deliberating (Online) Dating? 8 Weird Tips!

The time has come. You’ve moved into the age of digital technology with reading your books on Amazon Kindle, conducting online banking, posting social media, streaming movies, downloading music, applying to job websites, placing restaurant To-G0 orders, and a whole host of other realms. Now you’re gonna matchmake for yourself on the world wide web!

Here are 8 Unique Do’s and Don’t’s you won’t read elsewhere:

  1. If given the choice between making up a personalized User Name (Like Love4Life4U) or just a plain assigned number, (like 24601 for you Les Mis fans) opt for the latter. That way when you write to potential dates you can say witty things in your salutation messages like, “Your days are numbered!” or “Your number’s up.” And if your assigned digits turn out to be 157391, you can always open with, “Hi there! I’d sure love to get ‘even’ with you!”
  2. A new online dating catchphrase is, “Looking for my partner in crime!” Now everyone knows your future mate doesn’t want your vague generalities, so take great pains to spell out the nitty gritty details — specify who will be the getaway driver and who hands the teller the hold-up note. This way your Bonnie and Clyde relationship is sure to start off getting a life sentence . . . of happiness.
  3. Some people purposely set up their profiles to sound like used clothing, cars, or furniture “For Sale” ads on Craigs list. While it’s okay to be cute and describe yourself with adjectives like, “Well loved” or “Gently distressed” or “Comes from a smoke-free home” — for goodness sake don’t say, “Carefully ridden!” unless you truly are offering your bicycle to the highest bidder.
  4. Always attempt to write a bit more than just a single word under the category called “Personality.” Sometimes I’ll only see, “Terrific!” or “Radiant!” or simply, “Humble” and I’m thinking, “Who is this I’m gonna be dating? The spider from Charlotte’s Web?”
  5. NEVER read the site’s question prompts very carefully before answering. For instance, Plenty of Fish asks everyone, “Are you ambitious?” and most people just fill in the blank with “Yes!” Or “Very!” Unless of course they’re honest and just state, “Not really!” But one guy wrote, “I try never to be vague or puzzling. I hope I’ve made myself clear!” I couldn’t resist messaging him for an explanation on his answer. It turns out he thought he was being asked, “Are you ambiguous?” Weeks later I noticed that even after I made him aware of the real question, he kept his answer the same . . . he was no dummy, he was receiving more attention from baffled women like me than if he’d given the standard boring answer every other guy did!
  6. It’s been said before, but be sure and put up VERY recent photos of yourself because they’re just going to meet you in real life eventually and feel misled and fooled if you don’t look like your image. However there seems to be a popular new trend of peopling posting photographs of themselves back from their heyday (and captioning them with the true date so there’s no confusion) as if to say, “See what you missed out on by not answering this ad twenty years ago??” If you choose to take this tact, definitely also post a photo of you 15 years from now looking especially decrepit and feeble with the words, “And if you hesitate even longer, here’s what our future holds!” That will surely make them respond in a heartbeat….or at least hopefully before yours ceases.
  7. Try to write back to those people you aren’t interested in with some sort of constructive criticism so they can improve their odds the next time around. Say, “Nice eyes, but maybe lose the tarantula.” Or once you’re absolutely certain they live very far away, you could encourage them by saying, “Sorry, geographically undesirable, but I’m sure some nice woman on Mars will fall hard for you!” Or just do what I do and send them a screenshot of their profile and your red pen marks throughout with obnoxious editing suggestions inviting them to try again. So far I’ve gotten 18 resubmitted back to me with all the corrections made and improved hooks and conclusions, leading me to publish an Anthology of Online Dating Profiles in 2019. Look for it!
  8. Stop putting “Must Love . . . ” i.e. “Must Love Dogs, or Cats, or Kids, or Handmaid’s Tale, or Democrats” or whatever you need them to adore fervently. And switch to what they must detest. That’s right, you can bond over mutual hatred. Personally I like to write, “Must totally loathe mushrooms, olives, and anchovies!” so I know that when they show up disinterested in robbing a bank with me, not looking anything like their photo, or holding a tarantula, we can at least share a decent pizza.

Readers:  Any unusual dating profile advice you might want to give one another?? Feel free to leave it in the comments.

Illustrative of couple representing online dating

Ready to Turn the Tables? Here’s Whatcha Gotta Do!

I don’t know about you but I get tired of all the annoyances that go on in our “civilized” society and the protocols and routines I’m expected to adhere to. I think turnabout is fair play and sometimes people deserve a dose of their own medicine. I recommend the following:

Dentists:  Send them a pesky postcard every few weeks saying, “Just a friendly reminder! It’s been six months since you last cleaned my teeth. What’s taking you so long to schedule me? Please call my home because I’m waiting with baited breath for my next appointment!” Also after your cleaning, when they hand you your new dental hygiene accessories in a little festive party favor bag, hand them back a zip-lock baggie with your old toothbrush and some used dental floss as a gesture of goodwill in return.

Restaurants: Bring your own little rectangle tray and when the server sets down her tray with the itemized check, you hand them yours with a little bill that says “Seat-Warmer Fee- $25. Without my presence at your table, this place would take a nose-dive. Gratuity is already included. Thank you for your patronage.”

Physician’s Office: Walk immediately up to the receptionist and hand her your guestbook commanding, “Please sign in.” Then give the nurse a little cup and insist she leave a sample in the restroom.  Ask a Physician Assistant to step on the scale, but don’t allow her to remove her shoes first. Catch the Doctor himself off-guard by rapping three times very loudly on his office door and startling him by calling out, “Hope you’re decent? I’m coming in now!” But first make him wait about twenty minutes. Also before you leave, find every person you interacted with and have them sign forms to protect their privacy and acknowledging the new HIPAA laws.

Department of Motor Vehicles: Distribute a Scrabble letter tile to all employees and announce through a megaphone, “Now serving Letter R.”  Then snap their photo with a Polaroid camera when they’re least expecting it and not anywhere close to smiling.

Theaters: Walk in with a mini-flashlight and immediately greet the usher, asking to see his ticket. Hand him a program which consists of your grocery list for next week folded in half with Act 1 listing all the healthy foods in order of their appearance around the supermarket and Act 2 specifying the junk food you’re actually buying and the commercial jingle lyrics that go with them. Tell him to enjoy the show.

Babysitters: Go to the babysitter’s house while she’s watching your children and eat all her ice-cream, view an R-rated DVD, and rummage through her dresser drawers during the boring parts.

Psychics: Call up the medium and tell her you’re canceling your appointment because you’re getting a strong message from the other side that something very bad will happen if you see her today.

Hairdressers: Sit in the chair and stare in the mirror at the reflection of their hairstyle behind you, asking nosy questions like “Is that your natural color?” and “How often do you condition your split ends?”

Schools: Send your child’s teacher a note saying, “Hi! I’m so glad my child is in your classroom this year. In recent months our household budget has been drastically cut back and we appreciate you sending the following items home on Back-To-School Night to help our family run smoother during the school semester. 1. Five boxes of tissue 2. Six Printer cartridges, color only please 3. King size sheet set, floral pattern in shades of blue 4. Gain Laundry detergent, 42 oz size, original scent 5.  Dozen yellow roses, long stem. 6. Three boxes of Cheerios, Honey Nut flavor.

Telephone Sales: Answer promptly on the first ring when you see their number in your caller ID and say, “Surveys R’ Us. I’m ready to answer all your questions and accept your free vacation to Cancun. My consulting fee for marketing research is $125. My travel fee is triple that and on weekends I require my family accompany me. Which credit card will you be using today?”

Publishers: Send a gentle but firm rejection letter stating, “Gentlemen, I’m sorry but at this point in time your publishing style does not suit my particular needs as an author. I’ve decided to pass on letting you consider putting my novel into print. This is not to say you don’t have potential and I encourage you to keep hoping that I’ll send some of my writing your way — because you never know what the future might bring!”

God: Instead of praying for help, better opportunities, or for the things you need, pray to be of service and to get more opportunities to help those in need.

 

Can You Have TOO Many Tips, Tricks, & Techniques For a Healthy Relationship?

Most people (and by people, I mean women!) who want lasting romantic love will (at some point!) delve into the Couple’s Self-Help industry, whether it be to further intimacy, increase the quality of communication, or just breathe new life into a relationship gasping for air.

But can you have TOO much of a good thing?

The answer to that question is in a flashback from many months ago…

Me: Oh…Flowers!? And you thought flowers would validate my self-worth because??

Him: Shouldn’t you ask that question using “i messages” so I don’t feel so blamed?

Me: Yes, of course. How thoughtless of me. Let me rephrase. When did I ever say getting flowers was how I felt love?

Him: Well you clearly scored high in the “Receiving Gifts” category in the test Gary Chapman, author of 5 Love Languages, has on his website.

Me: Actually Handsome One, I scored the highest in a category called, “Words of Affirmation,” hence I’m a writer.

Him: Well you overlooked the card, Dear Heart. There are lots of words of affirmation written on that card under the purple tulip next to the baby’s breath.

Me: Also if you recall, “Quality Time” was my second highest ranked Love Language.

Him: Right. And do you realize it took an hour to order this bouquet online and then another 45 minutes for me to drive to pick it up just for you?

Me:  i messages please !!!

Him: Sorry, let me rephrase that. I spent a lot of time doing something I felt would be loving and now I just feel criticized. Mirror that back for me, would you SweetCakes?

Me: Sure thing Honeybear! What I hear you saying is … you feel very put down after spending a lot of time on something you thought would make me happy. Even though I’m allergic and flowers also just wilt and drop dead, which is ironic and symbolic. Is that an accurate reflection?

Him: All except the drop dead part. Well maybe that’s spot-on too right now.

Me: I want to acknowledge your frustration and say this is a problem we can definitely work on as a team and find a good solution.

Him: Can you also acknowledge a good solution would be giving me a blow-job?

And now a flashback from several weeks ago, with different self-help techniques, but still a similar ending.

Him: Gosh, I’m starving. Let’s reminisce about old times. Our Relationship Therapist says walking down memory lane is productive in that it bonds us together. So remember when we first started going out and you used to cook all my favorite homemade meals?

Me: But our other Couple’s Counselor also tells us not to dwell on the past and to stay grounded in the present moment. And at precisely this moment, there’s a chicken pot pie in the freezer with your name on it.

Him: But my mother always served those cheap Swanson’s TV dinners to my dad and you know how our Love Advisor doesn’t want our family-of-origin old wounds to get reopened. So how’s about some of your BBQ meatloaf?

Me: Ironically, my own Inner Child’s traumatic hurt has now just been triggered as well by the mention of meatloaf.

Him: Meatloaf triggers you?? What are you, a closet vegetarian?

Me: Once while my dad was spanking me for lying, the famous band Meat Loaf’s most popular song, “I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that!” played on the radio.

Him: Really? And this memory scarred you so much — you would do anything for our love except cook me your homemade meatloaf??

Me: That is correct. You microwaving chicken pot pie is much more cathartic for us as a couple.

Him: Well you know how our psychologist tells us to role-play painful situations in order to move past them?

Me: Yes?

Him: (Bending me over his knee, hand raised threateningly over my behind as he shouts, “Who’s Your Daddy?” while Bat Out of Hell plays on his iPhone.)

And finally here’s a flashback from just yesterday:

Me: Let’s spend more quality time appreciating one another. Remember the Intimacy Bootcamp we attended where they said the idea is not to have sex, but to just be more mindful of each other’s bodies and souls?

Him: The one that made us take salsa dance lessons together, do partner yoga, share our fantasies all night instead of sleeping, pen erotica until I got writer’s cramp, and then forced us to do couple’s massage with that coconut oil that made you break out in a rash?

Me: Yes, that’s the one.

Him: The one that said “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey?” And “It’s not the finished product, it’s the process.” And “It’s not the size of the boat, it’s the motion of the ocean.”

Me: (looking skeptical) They never said that last one.

Him: Well let’s go in the bedroom and check out my yacht anyhow.

Me: Wait! I’m going to reference what you just said in the index of our book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Have a Healthy Relationship with Someone Who Makes Everything About Sex and Food.”

Him: Great! And meanwhile I’ll just look up what you’re doing in our other book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Have a Healthy Relationship With Someone Who Looks in the Index of Books Titled, What To Expect When You’re Expecting to Have a Healthy Relationship With Someone Who Makes Everything About Sex and Food.”

Me: (Sigh) Okay you win….Meatloaf or Intercourse?

Him: Yes, please.

Me: You honestly want both sex and food right now at the same time?

Him: I’m feeling judged. Say that again using i messages, please.

Me: I honestly want both sex and food right now at the same time!

Him: Perfect. I knew we were soul mates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Death of a Muse? (An Odd Cautionary Tale)

At first I was in denial that anything was wrong, even though it was the worst case of writer’s block I’d ever experienced. But of course! “My muse had probably just embarked on a summer camping trip,” I told myself. Everyone needs a little time off after many hard years of service. Besides what kind of employer was I not offering my muse paid vacation time at a luxury resort as a job perk? Shame on me. No wonder no notice was given before this mysterious departure.

But now after 4 months of not being able to write like I used to, it occurred to me that perhaps my muse had permanently run away. I pictured a little red checkered knapsack on a stick slung over the shoulder of my muse, filled with the bare necessities to assist with effective musing — chocolate, (for bribing a future author) a megaphone (for shouting into a stubborn writer’s ear) and even a typewriter, because sometimes good muses have to write the entire darn thing themselves.

I put an ad up on Craig’s List in the Lost and Found section that looked like this:

Missing Muse! Reward for any info leading to the safe return — no questions asked. (Except for Who?What?Why?Where?How?When?) Answers to “Little Voice” or “Sweet Inspiration.” Last seen wearing a red negligee, eating bon-bons, and watching The Young & the Restless soap opera. Friendly, bit of a chatterbox in fact, communicates story ideas in confusing bursts or fragments. i.e. “You’re having high tea with the King of Kidneys/Livers when the Queen of Hearts crashes the party?” or “Different types of Breadless sandwiches served open-faced by The Muffin Man?”  Please return this cherished Muse as soon as possible — sentimental value only.

Next thing I know a balding man knocks on the door, gives me an overzealous bear hug while exclaiming, “Here I am. At last we’re reunited! I’m your long lost Muse. You can call me ‘Bruce the Muse.'” Which is odd because before I used to call my muse, “Ida the Idea.”

He then went on to tell me how his ex-wife made him a sex slave and how it would turn the tables on all the female empowerment Lifetime movie of the week stories, if only I’d accept his assistance in writing the script. “True story!” he said again as if that would tempt me enough to hold out my hand and say, “Really? Well put ‘er there, partner! Join me in my writing studio where my stash of Doritos is.”

No sooner did I shut the door on the impostor Bruce (besides I pictured the physical form of my muse as kind of a femme fatale Marilyn Monroe type, but also flat-chested, a brunette, and with reading glasses) when there was an official sounding pounding and I opened it back up to see two police officers tapping their feet with a clipboard.

Officer #1: We suspect foul play. We see this kind of thing all the time.

Me: Really?! Like Stephen King is holding my muse hostage until she reveals some bizarre horror story romantic comedy plot-line and he writes it for her, ala the movie Misery?

Officer #2: I doubt your muse is so talented that someone as famous as Mr. King would risk his reputation. But maybe Morton Solomon has her squirreled away in his file cabinet.

Me: “Who?”

Officer #2: Exactly!

Me: Not funny. And I am not a-mused.

Officer #1: We know. That’s why we’re trying to locate the one you’re missing.

After these two clowns left, I honestly considered suicide. It was entirely plausible.  My muse was probably so discouraged by my recent waning blog statistics that she had taken her own life, thinking the writing world would be much better off without her. Or maybe killing herself was a clever strategy for my stuff to become classic literature! Everyone knows ya gotta kick the bucket before any public librarian will stock your books or students in 9th grade English Lit will be assigned a 1200 word essay analyzing your theme. And I’d always dreamed of being analyzed! Thank you Miss Muse for taking a (literal?) bullet for my sake.

Just then my cellphone lit up with notifications from Facebook Friends telling me to turn on the local news. Apparently I was the subject of a controversial public service Announcement:

As my Huffington Post headshot flashed on the screen, a really homely Marilyn Monroe type female read in a halting little voice from a teleprompter.

Have you seen this violent Wanna-Be Author? She’s wanted for 1 count of premeditated attempted museslaughter, 3 counts of abuse, and 9 counts of aggravated assault.  She stands 5′ 4″, (or 5′ 9″ if you count her kooky hairstyle,) and calls herself ‘Little Miss Menopause’ (but that was a real branding mistake!) and is extremely insecure. She tried to do me in several times right on her bed, (where all she ever does is sleep nowadays btw!) as she uttered these toxic words — “That’s the stupidest idea for a novel I’ve ever heard. Nobody will ever want to read that drivel!” I ran for my life. All local Muses beware! She’s armed and dangerous with a fully-loaded MR (Manuscript Rifle) to shoot down any creativity you might offer up. Please alert the authorities so she can go back on her medication.

The authorities? Oh no, not those two clowns again.

And of course there followed an immediate pounding on my door — this time the officers were accompanied by a medical physician who shoved a tablespoon of putrid medicine down my throat. One glance at the label on the bottle told me everything I needed to know… “Mucin-ex!”

READERS: Is your muse still offering invaluable guidance? Treat them well!

Full Disclosure!

Abandoned house in disrepair, Astoria, Oregon, USA

This is not my house … but it may as well have been after I had written all my seller disclosures!

If there are any readers still lingering here after my unexpected hiatus from blogging, I’d like to say thank you for sticking around and I shall now disclose (fully!) my reason for leaving.

You see, I’ve been extremely busy (and stressed!) making lengthy lists of literally hundreds of disclosures for the sale of my home after it went into escrow.

This is actually supposed to be a simplistic process and one that works smoothly when there aren’t perfectionists, worriers, obsessors, and Type A personalities involved.

Essentially the seller (Me!) writes down whatever is wrong with the house so there are no unexpected, unpleasant surprises after the new homeowners take possession — thus giving the buyer the option of saying, “Uh, no thanks!” and exiting the deal OR continuing on with the realization that unless a home is brand spanking new (and rarely even then!) it won’t be in perfect move-in condition.

However once my real estate agent mentioned that the couple who wanted my house came from a family of attorneys and that previously they resided in a beach condominium where they sued the prior owners for 500K because they hadn’t disclosed there were sharp seashells hidden beneath the sand that could cut bare feet, I began to have an uneasy feeling.

After consulting my own lawyer, I was informed that in America you can initiate a lawsuit to anyone for anything. And to be on the safe side I should disclose everything I could possibly think of to these people — the more problems I could recollect and report, the better off I’d be in the long run.

I took this as a direct challenge to recall the last twenty years worth of life with six kids under one roof and because of my recent memory lapses, I felt the only option was to consult my ex-husband who originally bought the home with me.

Me: When we first got married and moved into this house, what wasn’t functioning properly?”

Ex: You.

Realizing this would get me nowhere, I called back my smartypants lawyer.

Me: Can’t I just tell these people I’ve changed my mind and then find a more laid-back family so I don’t live in fear over getting hauled into court for the rest of my life.

My Lawyer: Sorry, Ms. Mental Pause . . .

Me: I’m Miss Menopause!

My Lawyer: Really? My wife doesn’t miss the change of life at all.

Me: OMG. You bill by the minute, right? Can I kill the sale of my house or not??

My Lawyer: Unfortunately at this point, they’re the only ones who can cancel the escrow. You must now proceed to sell your house to these individuals. Again my best advice is when in doubt, it’s better to disclose everything.

There was nothing else to do but utilize the method I always used to solve sticky dilemmas . . . I Love Lucy reruns. What would the harebrained, zany redhead do? I recalled an episode where the Ricardos couldn’t fire their grumpy maid so they tried to make things so awful, the cantankerous woman would quit on her own. And the one where they weren’t allowed to break their apartment lease with Fred and Ethel Mertz, so they tried to become miserable tenants and get themselves thrown out.

That’s it! Brilliant.  I’d scare off these buyers by giving them such horrific disclosures, they’d back out on their own accord. Upon hearing this scheme, my real estate agent cautioned me that it was illegal to make stuff up in the disclosures — they had to be true. Apparently she’d never read my blog.

To Future Buyers:

I hope you’ll be very happy in this house, but I hereby go on record disclosing the following defects:

  1. Dishwasher only works on the Extra Scrub cycle. You have to defrost the frost free refrigerator. Roof always leaks when it rains.
  2. Home is in a drought zone so it never rains. Your water bill will be thousands of dollars a year.
  3. In the summer ants are so rampant, they come streaming out of all the bathroom faucets — IF the department of water hasn’t shut them off because of rationing due to drought.
  4. House had six children raised in it. God only knows what went on in their bedrooms when they were in Time-Out and feeling vindictive.
  5. Neighbor lady to the left is old, mean, decorates the exterior of her house with candy, and calls my youngest son/daughter Hansel and Gretel.
  6. Neighbor to the right is much nicer and will only push kids into ovens if they trample her vegetable garden.
  7. We’ve found rattlesnakes, gophers, an opossum, a squirrel, all sorts of gruesome rodents, and a used condom in the basement of the home.
  8. Home does not have a basement.
  9. Bathroom acoustics are so terrible that family members will shout, “shut up!” if you so much as sing in the shower.

I gave a self-satisfied smile as I reread my list — it sounded like Stephen King himself lived here! And then because I also watch Brady Bunch reruns and remembered the one where they pretended their home was haunted to discourage any buyers, I also disclosed this:

9.  This house was built on top of an old cowboy burial ground.

For good measure, I hid my lasso and boots under a couch cushion.

When given the above notarized document, the future buyers just laughed and told the realtor my writing was hilarious — almost funny enough to be on The Huffington Post. It was then I knew I had to pull out my top secret weapon….the ‘M’ word.  No, not Mold!

For my tenth and final disclosure I put down…

10.  Marriage Murderer — This house is responsible for killing two separate marriages simply by making unusually loud settling sounds at two in the morning, thereby causing the wife to awaken with a start, poke the husband in his sound asleep ribs while loudly hissing, “What’s that noise?? Go downstairs and investigate! We have a prowler.”

When all was said and done, after all my attempts to foil the sale, the buyers were still proceeding full steam ahead, and so I asked my realtor “Why would anyone want to live in this house after reading all these bad disclosures?”

“Live in it?” she asked. “Oh didn’t I tell you? They’re specifically looking for a fixer-upper so they can get a great price, refurbish it, and resell it quickly for far more money. Didn’t you ever watch, “Flip This House!” or “Flip or Flop?”

Of course not. I was too busy watching I Love Lucy, Brady Bunch, Poltergeist, and all of Stephen King’s movies. Sigh….

Real-estate-seller-disclosure

READERS: Do you have a moving nightmare story?