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!

 

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?

Do You Have a Personal Conspiracy Theory?

Forget the chef who spits in your food (if you send back your pasta) or that we’re all just characters in an advanced civilization’s video game. What other sinister things are happening that we haven’t even thought about? Here are some of my best educated guesses. . . .

NOBODY REALLY LIKES SUSHI

It’s all a ruse for restauranteurs to open swanky eating establishments without having to invest in ovens. And then it becomes a predictable real life “Emperor’s New Clothes” formula. In other words, everyone pretends to think sushi is a delicious uncooked delicacy because nobody wants to be the courageous (and honest!) one to raise their hand and loudly shout, “But this fish is completely raw!” Which is the equivalent of “But he’s totally naked!”

WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR . . . THE OPPOSITE OCCURS

This also applies to the bestselling book, “The Secret” which is based on “The Law of Attraction.” So whenever you put your fondest dreams out there into the world to be fulfilled, there’s some sort of mirror reversal going on and it gets turned into “The Law of Subtraction.” Essentially whatever you’re truly desiring will now become the most out of reach for you. That’s why I’m very sneaky nowadays and trick the universe by praying for the opposite — a failed writing career, large debt, an abusive man, and the inability to be unable to digest all the chocolate I’ll never have. But that last one I think I basically only fooled myself by using too many double negatives.

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YAMS AND SWEET POTATOES

This is a major fraud being perpetrated on us by those benevolent looking produce guys in supermarkets. They meet yearly in secret to discuss it. “Let’s put identical root vegetables in separate bins right next to one another but stick adjectives like ‘Red Garnet’ or ‘Wild Purple Japanese’ on the signs in front of the words “Yam” and “Sweet Potato” AND then label them with differing prices. Won’t that be fun?”

LESS IS REALLY MORE

Huh?? Whichever manufacturer made up this sham of a quote simply wanted to save on material costs. Think about it — in what math class did you sit at your desk and watch the teacher write an equation on the blackboard professing that a minus sign (-) is actually greater than a plus sign (+) ?? Yet women have worn blouses with the shoulder area missing for five years now because “Less is More” = Fashionable. In reality it’s just quicker to sew and uses less fabric. Same thing with bagels. Remove the centers and charge the same because “Less is More” = Delicious. If you believe that, I’ve got a dozen glazed donut holes to sell you.

THE PEST CONTROL COMPANIES ARE THE REAL PESTS

Every time Terminex or Orkin knocks on my front door with their monthly specials to spray the perimeter of my home for the prevention of pestilence, I say, “Fortunately I have no need for your service, so No Thanks!” But as they leave my property they uncork a jar or a tube of some pregnant creepy crawlies and mutter under their breath, “That’s what you think, Ma’am.” It never fails — a week after these individuals leave my premises, I am inundated with ants, spiders, fleas, carpet beetles, or lice. They must pass my daughter riding her bike on the sidewalk and pat her on the head to accomplish that last one. But I believe if you decline their services, they just transfer these creatures from one home to the next with their clever “Catch and Release” program.

THERE IS JUST ONE SINGLE GUY ON MATCH.COM

He’s a prolific writer and spends all his time coming up with different adjectives to describe himself in intriguing ways so hundreds of thousands of women will answer all his profiles. When he finally chooses his future wife, he can say, “Gosh Dollface, you’re one in a million!” and really mean it. If any other men try to register or create an account, he tells the competition, “This is mine! Go start your own dating site.” And that’s how Plenty of Fish, OK Cupid, eHarmony, Bumble, and Tinder came to be. So ladies, when you think, “Wow, I’ve finally met The One!” Remember … that’s all there ever was to choose from in the first place . . . Just. One.

LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING UNTIL . . .

After reading all the books that help you conduct your lifelong search for Mr. or Mrs. Right, you finally find someone who is exactly on the same page as you. Both of you finish each other’s sentences, communicate with secret funny hand signals from across the room at parties, text each other at the exact same time, and your inhales and exhales even sync up while you sleep together. This is it. This is the Soulmate status you’ve been hearing so much about. Not only do you walk down the aisle to tie the knot, you even loop it into a fancy little bow. And then you spot it. How could you miss it? It’s on the front page of Yahoo news and it’s getting posted on everyone’s Facebook as well. “Take this Quiz to see if You are Real Soulmates or just Codependents!” Marriage therapists immediately get forwarded your tallied results because they have hefty student loans to repay. Face it — you’re not really starry-eyed romantics, you’re actually Cross-Eyed Crazies — and you’re going to pay every last penny to a Couple’s Counselor who will say things like “You can’t possibly love anyone else until you love yourself.” So either file for divorce or send a big bouquet of red roses to your place of work and sign the card adoringly.

THERE ARE NOT FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY

Forget walking into Sherwin Williams paint store and buying “Silver Satin” or “Steel Wool” or “Charcoal” or “Pewter” or “Cloudy Morning” or “Whispering Thunder” or “Elephant’s Breath.” You (and your wallet) are being taken for a ride on a runaway gray train. Or is that grey?  Aghghghghw, don’t get me started on the difference between spelling it with an “a” or an “e.” Just read your sadomasochistic novel by the same title and hush up, because there is only one single shade of gray and it consists of black and white mixed together. That. Is. It. Take a hike “Seagull Buff!”

THERE MAY BE LIGHTS AND CAMERA, BUT THERE WILL BE NO ACTION

And that’s because the manufacturers of video cameras are plotting so that each and every time we pay good money to convert our precious family home movies to the latest and greatest playback system, from super 8 reel to reel film to VHS cassettes to Betamax, to the Sony Camcorder to DVD to Blu-Rey discs to MP3’s to cellphone videos, the technology will improve some more and your childhood memories will become obsolete once again — until you transfer them all over to whatever format is invented next. By the time you get to heaven, you can forget having your entire life flash before your eyes, because God won’t have the most recent digital device to play back your highlight reel on. Expect huge delays at the Pearly Gates.

THERE WAS ACTUALLY A THIRD TWIN!

Okay, I guess technically that means triplets. This last conspiracy theory only applies to Yours Truly. I believe back when I gave birth to my twins (and was totally out of it because of drugs and the epidural) some well-meaning but sly nurse whispered to the delivery doctor, “Oh look! There are actually three babies. It’s obvious this woman can’t handle that, so let’s start her with two and I’ll raise the third as my own. If she proves herself a fit mother and doesn’t go around calling herself “Little Miss Menopause,” espousing nonsense on her blog, I’ll break the news to her after he’s 21 and the hardest part is over. That would also explain my excess pregnancy weight gain and the fact that “Three’s Company” was always my favorite TV show.

And there you have it. Ten conspiracy theories you probably never thought of. Oh! And don’t worry about chefs spitting in your food if you complain … the server actually does that. Note: If you don’t get to read this blog it’s because WordPress has an evil system that prevents my stuff from getting delivered to you.

Readers: Do you have a favorite conspiracy theory that’s “out there” or that you just made up? 

What NOT to Say to Someone With Writer’s Block!

You may have noticed the frequency of posts around here has dropped slightly plummeted drastically. Without a doubt, this is the longest case of Writer’s Block I’ve ever had. Aside from neglecting this blog, I can’t write my local humor column assignments, I can’t write freelance work for clients, I can’t continue another novel I’ve been excited about, I can’t journal, I can’t write a creative email to someone I really adore, nor a birthday card, nor create an excuse note for my child to get out of P.E. class — I cannot even make out a grocery list.

Regarding the last one, I literally sat and asked myself, “What’s another way of saying “Buy milk?” And it took me a really long time to come up with “Obtain pasteurized, homogenized cow’s juice.” And then I got grossed out and crossed it off.

And through it all, well-meaning family and friends aggravate me beyond belief with the things they say to me. So I’ve compiled a few. Ready?

NEVER EVER OFFER THESE SOLUTIONS….

“Just write about _________.”  And then blurt out the first random inane word that pops into your head. Like . . .  “Winklepickers!” or “Agastopia!” or “Tittynope!”

“Anything you write will be brilliant.” (Thanks Grandma, but now you’ve just ratcheted up expectations, so you may as well just cue my nervous breakdown.)

“Who can think with so much hair on their head? What you need is a sweet little pixie cut like I gave you when you were five, so I can see those pretty eyes and your thoughts will be able to flow more freely.” (Nice try, Mom.)

“Good sex has been preventing Writer’s Block for decades.” (Even though this won’t work, you may not care if he’s really good.)

“Ran out of material, did ya? I’m free to go to coffee and you can interview me.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re overestimating the consequences of this issue. Who actually reads what you write anyhow?” (I immediately introduced this individual to my Grandma.)

“All the greats were rejected before they had bestsellers. Google Margaret Mitchell and Gone With the Wind.” (Okay, what? You’re not even listening to me. You have to write something before it can be rejected.   I. Cannot. Write. A. Thing.)

“Take a hot bath.” (This same advice also came from this person after my marriage fell apart, after I cracked a rib, when I mentioned I wanted to eat a bunch of chocolate, when my dad passed away, when my house had a mold infestation, and when I’d get a HOT flash.)

“C’mon, whadya working on? How difficult can it be? I’ll write it for you lickety-split.”

“Your muse was abducted. She got into a car she thought was her Uber driver and was sold as a sex slave, but there’s a pregnant psychic in Rhode Island who was tracking her down using a secret code from her unborn baby’s kicks but yesterday the child entered this world and now you’ll just have to wait until she learns to talk.” (This person just called, thanking me for sharing that I had writer’s block, because they now have a three book contract.)

“Writer’s Block….pfffffft! There’s no such thing. It’s just something you made up in your head, dearie.” (I CANNOT make anything up in my head. That’s the problem.)

“So then start in the middle.” (This person used to tell me to start at the end and work backwards, but I slapped him.)

“Try my clever writing prompt …. Satan has instructed his incompetent younger brother, Stan, to open a milder version of Hell known as Heck. How does one end up there, and what punishments does Stan devise?” (Aw, just go to Heck!)

“Read books by Jane Austin. That always helped my Aunt Fran when she had any kind of feminine problem.”

“Just get rid of your inner critic.” (Yes, thank you. I’ll order her an Uber to Rhode Island)

“Write about having Writer’s Block.” (Seriously?? I’d sooner die.)

Of course! Just burn this candle….along with any putrid words you’ve managed to write.

It May Be YOUR Pillow, but It’s MY Insomnia!

Dear Mike Lindell,

So you invented “My Pillow” and your worth is now over 300 million dollars (and counting!) and none of us can turn on our televisions without being taunted by (you actually issue a money-back guarantee!) getting a wonderful night’s sleep. You and your perfectly precious palpable pillowable promises. I hate you.

But let’s start with the profound way you supposedly thought up “My Pillow.” You’ve made documentaries on this very subject and it states on Wikipedia — In 2004, you had a dream that came from God, a dream about a miracle pillow which would bring millions of insomniac and sleep apnea sufferers comfort. (In truth your boring infomercial is the only real remedy you offer for insomnia!) But nevertheless, am I getting this right? You had a dream you invented an extraordinary pillow? Well Mr. Lindell, in order to have any dream… first you have to finally fall asleep. You big show-off!

In the dream you saw the product name clearly written as “My Pillow.” Genius. Utterly brilliant. And God told you to call it that? Perhaps, my Pillow Prince, perhaps. Or isn’t it just possible that the night before some stranger simply uttered your own name (“Mike Lindell”) super fast and slightly mispronounced? Try it. It sounds very similar to “My Pillow” now, doesn’t it? (Especially on cocaine.) Isn’t it plausible then that your product’s true name is really just a slight variation of a fast-talking telemarketer phoning you up to sell a life insurance policy (which you might still need after the pillow-fight I intend to have with you — just sayin’) and you decided to incorporate his social faux pau into a creative dream because that makes for a more interesting autobiography?

And before you became “The Prince of Pillows” you claim to have been “The Insomnia King.” Let me tell you something Mike, (after hours spent researching your hard night’s sleep teen turmoils) “flipping the pillow over a few times looking for the cooler side” hardly qualifies you. Talk to me when you’ve tossed so much, your name could replace Caesar’s on a salad menu.

And your little pillow project wasn’t enough for you, was it? You went for sheets, duvets, mattresses, bedspreads, and then pet beds. Dog and cat sleeping quarters? That’s really random, isn’t it? What’s next — parakeet pouffes stuffed with their own feathers?

But I’m a reasonable woman, Mr. Lindell you sexy entrepreneur you. And I have an idea. It literally just came to me from God during a nightmare. Let’s go over the facts first. You’re the divorced Pillow Prince and I’m the divorced Princess and the Pea (remember how elusive a good night’s sleep was for her from your bedtime stories? Stay with me on this… cuz I need you Michael, I really do.) Plus you have four kids, and I have six — together we can merge our families, have built-in employees, and start a new company called “My Pill-Oh!” (Organic over-the-counter sleep medication that puts even melatonin to shame!) I’ll finally stop counting sheep and start counting $$.

I may not be a former crack-head dreamer like you, (let’s just say my head is stuffed with the same 100% polyurethane foam you use in your pillows, so it holds its shape remarkably well) but I believe we could put something together here that might just rock both our worlds….to sleep.

Are you “down” for that?  We could even work “undercovers.” It’s a “comforter” thought, isn’t it? When you’re ready to take “mattress” into your own hands, call me and let’s “slip” into bed together for some playful, passionate, productive, placid “Pillow” talk. I’ll “rest” a whole lot easier when I know I can trust my pillow isn’t just “lying” behind my back! Please believe me when I say this letter isn’t full of “sheet,” Mike … but it’s definitely a “blanket” statement.

Stephanie AKA Little Miss Menopause

PS. All is forgiven. Sleep tight, and don’t let the bedbugs bite. Zzzzzzzz

 

You’ve Heard of Ghost Writing Before, But Ghost Dating??

A ghostwriter is hired to write literary works that are officially credited to another person as the author. There is normally an included clause for anonymity so the ghostwriter can never steal the person’s thunder, which doesn’t seem quite fair since he/she is the person doing all the hard work!

I’ve ghostwritten material before, in fact even other blogs. Consider this: You may have just come from reading another post on WordPress that I am secretly the author of? Hey, it could happen!

But in the online dating world? You betcha! I’ve created many profiles for people who pay me to compose a creative ad because they’re at a loss for words as to how to best describe themselves or what to say to captivate someone to be interested enough to respond.

I charge a fee for this, which gets rather tricky when my friends approach me and ask me to write one for them “as a favor.”

In instances like this, bartering seems to be the best approach. For instance, I recently did a complimentary profile for a local eligible bachelor acquaintance who just happened to be a renowned surgeon. In return, he took my daughter’s tonsils out for free. That’s a great deal, right? (Especially when you consider that my “chatty” teenager had to be quiet for days ….yay! — and his new cool profile might procure him a wife who births bunches of children with more unnecessary body organs he can operate on all he wants!) That’s a win/win if ever there was one.

By the way, I created his profile headline to go something like this:

I’m Good With My Hands, So Can I Grab Your Heart?

Nobody had to know it involves anesthesia, right?

The big game-changer in all of this was when my female best friend not only asked me to write her a stunning profile, but begged me to go one step further and also compose (on her behalf) any replies to interested respondents. In return she would trade a month’s worth of homemade meals since she was a professional chef. Yum! (Cyrano de Bergerac  without the big nose anyone??)  Game on!

In the beginning it was easy because my friend didn’t attract many intelligent potential suitors. These dullard men were impressed by anything I wrote that went above “Hey there, Handsome!” or “Wow, you have a nice smile!”

Soon she wanted me to modify her profile so she WOULD draw in a higher caliber of man. Yep, she wanted me to (gasp!) lie about her appearance, her profession, and her hobbies. Within minutes I took her from a mousy brown-haired receptionist in a law office who enjoyed scrapbooking — to an alluring raven-tressed attorney with a passion for naked chess.

(Hey if there can be strip-poker, why not a more intellectual game also played in the nude?)

And by the way, I crafted her profile headline to go something like this:

If You Can Sustain an Objection, Let’s Adjourn to the Bedroom Cuz I’ve Got a Great Rebuttal!

Soon the responses began to pour in like crazy and I was very busy fielding them back with clever, smart retorts. The first week I got paid in lasagna, chicken cacciatore, beef stroganoff, and cobb salad!

I met with my girlfriend to show her all the people I was corresponding with “as her.” She was quite impressed with the lively conversations I was able to develop. But one online dialogue stood out the most for her. It was with someone in the medical field and our messages were full of volleying sexual quips back and forth and our tremendous internet chemistry literally leapt off the screen. Here’s an example of one of our initial communications:

Me: Hi! I’m sure you’re a doctor with a lot of patience. Maybe you’d like to give me a shot?

Him: That depends. Would it all be in vein?

Me: Oh you’re so funny. I can’t wait to hear what you’ll prescribe for my relief from this excruciatingly painful experience of online dating.

Him: Well I’m actually a surgeon, so I hope I make the final cut. You might say I’m The Wizard of Gauze.

Me: Haha. You have me in stitches, Dr!

“Ohhhhh! That’s the guy I want to be with,” my friend announced matter-of-factly after reading page after page of our witty rapport.

“Are you sure he’s the one?” I asked. “Maybe one of the other men would be a better match?”

“Nope, I’ve made up my mind. Can you set up the initial meeting date?”

“Okaaaaay. I’ll write to him tonight,” I hesitatingly confirmed. “Should it be in the day or evening?”

“When are you available?” she inquired.

I stood there incredulous. “Wait! You want ME to go and meet him for you?  Am I supposed to sleep with him too??”

She deliberated a moment, then told me that wouldn’t be necessary because she’d take it from there. I looked at her skeptically, but she threw in a fettuccine alfredo PLUS key-lime pie, so at that point I had no choice but to proceed.

The night of the big meeting approached and I was nervous at how to explain this entire complicated predicament. The doctor and I got along famously, just as well in fact as we did when he first hired me to write his dating profile and then again in the recovery room after he’d taken out my daughter’s tonsils.

Handsome, smart, funny. I almost wished I was available to date him. But then I remembered what was happening.

Him: So thank you again Stephanie for handling all these many email responses for me. Boy these women sure like to type, huh? It’s been a really busy week in the hospital and you’ve responded to these even better than I could.

Me: Yes well, I guess that’s what happens when you have a son who breaks his leg in football and needs a cast. Thank you for your medical barter —  Can you give me a quick eye-lift next week too?

Him:  You’ve earned it, Sugar. And I love how you had me say, “All in vein.” Ha ha. I wouldn’t have thought being so punny could turn a woman on so much. And look at her response about being in stitches after finding out that I’m a surgeon…boy she can certainly hold her own, eh? She must kill the jury in the courtroom.  Please write to her immediately and tell her I want to set up a meeting with the woman who entertained me so much!

I wanted to tell him, “Uh, You’re actually having it right this very moment.”

Instead I went home, quickly gathered up my recovering son and daughter, (plus all my deliciously pre-made meals!) and absconded to a deserted mountain cabin.

Whether the both of them finally figured out they were simultaneously paying me to write their emails and that all along, I was actually just talking to ….. myself, I’ll never know. But that will be the last time I dabble in ghost-writing!

Should You Start Parenting Yourself? “We’ll See!”

There’s a theory floating around these days that if you missed out on crucial emotionally satisfying input from your mother and/or your father as a child, you will walk around seeking what you lacked in your past via other people in your present. Particularly in romantic relationships. Uh oh!

There’s another theory wafting about that says (and I’m over-simplifying) that when you become upset in life, you actually have what it takes to soothe and comfort yourself.

Now nobody has come out and combined both of these theories together in a weirdly logical way, but I will boldly integrate them right now by asking the obvious question. “Can we just be our own parent and become happy and content forever??”

Always up for a multiple personality experiment to help my blog content, (Translation=I LIKE talking to myself!) I will give it a try for the next 24-hours.

My name is Stephanie so therefore a Capital “S” IN BOLD will be the version of my parent side and lower-case “s’ will represent me, the woman I actually am today.  Ready?  Here I go….

s: Wow, it’s really colder outside than it looked. I’m freezing right now.

S: That’s what you get when you don’t keep an extra sweater or jacket in your car.

s: Yes that would have been smart. But right now, I’m super hungry and am going to focus on picking up some food at Le Fondue.

S: Le Fondue? Do you think money grows on trees? And stop frowning, do you want your face to freeze that way?

s: The answers to those questions respectively are Maybe and Botox. But seriously, all my friends get salads, soups, and crepes from Le Fondue.

S: Well if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do that too? Now go home and cook something healthy.

s: Why would all my friends do that? Unless of course, they all had a mother like you.

S: Don’t you get smart with me! Did you hear me? Answer my question.

s: No, of course I wouldn’t jump off a bridge. But why do I have to go home?

S: Because I said so.

s: Well then can I eat at Le Fondue tomorrow night?

S: Ask your father.

Alright, alright. I’m not doing 24 hours of this nonsense, I cannot even do five minutes. I guess the point is that our “inner parent” may not be much better than our original childhood role model was. (Oh hi mom! This blog is not about you, it’s supposed to be humorous and fictional.)

Well if theory number one (above) is true, then I guess the man I’m embarking on a new relationship with may get slightly frustrated with me from time to time. I suppose he can always just say, “As long as you’re living under my roof, you’ll behave appropriately.” Wait a sec, that doesn’t seem quite right either. Hmmm.

Well until I figure all this relationship/childhood/happiness/life stuff out, this post can serve another purpose — my covert way of officially welcoming him to the WordPress blogosphere because he’s trying out blogging for the very first time.  If you’d like to read some terrific and eclectic poetry and prose, you can take a shortcut to peruse his stuff right HERE. 

Meanwhile, I’m off to buy a special Time-Out chair so that when I tell myself, “I’ve had just about enough of you and your shenanigans, Young Lady!” I’ll have a designated place to sit in seclusion — because I’m really not disciplined enough to ground myself (without a car or cellphone!) for an entire weekend.

 

Do You Recycle, Reuse, Repeat Yourself in Future Relationships??

 

“I used to have a lot of close connections. But they lived in Connecticut so I cut them off. Get it? Connect-I-Cut?”

Noooo! If I EVER hear that stale old line uttered again, I may have to pour grated parmesan over the head of the speaker, because that’s how cheesy I find it.

Unfortunately the speaker was my 1st husband. This was a husband who told the exact same jokes and one-liners for the entire decade of our marriage and expressed great disappointment that I didn’t giggle just as heartily after hearing them the millionth time as I did when we were first dating. But I was the dutiful wife and thus we had an agreement —  at any get-together, party, or date-night out with another couple, I’d laugh hysterically at his stuff, dab my eyes with a napkin, pretending to catch my breath so I could sputter, “Ohhhh. Isn’t he hilarious? Such a card!”

This set him up for his next line which was, “Yeah, but instead of the Jack of Spades, I’m the Jack of all Trades!” And he’d launch into his many talents and skills. Pleeeease!

“Look, either get some exciting new material or get a new audience,” I’d say, stifling a yawn once we were home together alone in our bed. (Note: I may or may NOT have been referring to his comedy routine.)

He chose the latter option. We divorced.

My second husband and I were together for many years and like any couple we developed our own routines and distinctive little ways of relating to one another that I called, MMM (“Memorable Marriage Minutia.”)

Examples would be a) Taking a Selfie of ourselves with our eyes closed while each person held up a number of fingers behind the other person’s head. When we’d look at the photo, if we each had the same number of fingers we “won” and rewarded ourself with a nice dinner out or a picnic on the beach. b) If there was just one piece of our favorite food left on a plate, we’d split in half, in half, in half and so on until there was the tiniest of crumbs too infinitesimal to split in half — and then we’d play rock/paper/scissors to see who got it. c) I’d write messages to him on the outside of his banana peel in his lunch.

(Hey! I didn’t say these were sane rituals, just OURS.)

Fast forward to our breakup and I’m walking down our same favorite sandy shoreline exactly one year later (What? It’s not like he was awarded the entire beach in our divorce agreement!) when I spot two people taking a Selfie by their picnic basket. Wait! Are they actually holding their fingers up behind each other? As I suspiciously head closer, they sprawl out on their blanket and a lively game of rock/paper/scissors ensues. Really??? I wait until my ex loses (he always picks “paper!”) and run up to them shouting, “Noooo! That’s mine. I copyrighted that. What do you need, a patent? A registered trademark? You can’t steal that!” I am (of course!) pointing to the banana with the Sharpie scribbled writing that’s grasped in her hand as they look incredulously at me.

Sheesh. C’mon folks! Don’t recycle. Can nothing be reinvented for the new person in your life? Maybe I should teach a class called, “How to Have an Original New Relationship!” I’ll walk around during test days and chastise, “Don’t look at each other’s papers, ya bunch of copycat romantic wannabes!”

Fittingly, last night I was dining in a quiet Italian restaurant at a secluded booth with a date of my own (trying to create a new fun little tradition between us regarding the bill the waitress had just set on the table!) when what familiar snatch of dialogue should I hear floating through the air?

“Did I ever tell you about my close connections in Connecticut?”

That was it! I couldn’t help myself. As my 1st ex-husband’s latest girlfriend stared with astonishment, I proceeded to dump powdered parmesan cheese all over his head. She burst out laughing and said, “Ugh. Thank you for finally silencing the “Jack of all Trades.”

I have a feeling I just laid the groundwork for their own future unique ritual — albeit a remarkably cheesy one.

READERS: Do you have secret little rites or actions you do with someone special in your life? Don’t share them in the comments section….someone will surely refurbish, revamp, and reclaim them as their own! 🙂