My Isolation From Blogging is Over

 

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

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

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

Dear Diary,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time, Diary.

Me

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

                                                   GOT GUILT??

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

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

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

Me: Look! Your mother is having pizza.

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

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

Me: Neither. I made it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Eventually I phoned a girlfriend to confide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wanna be a Cool Crusty Chicken!

 

 

Erotic (or Neurotic??) Photography!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me finally taking the correct advice from my therapist!

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

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

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

               Just channel a pretzel!

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

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

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

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

Male WWF Player: Wow! Impressive Word!

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

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

GAME FORFEITED.

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

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

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

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

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

GAME FORFEITED.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Violet

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

~Lily

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

~Jasmine

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

~Daisy

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

~Little Miss Menopause

 

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Invite:

Dear IC,

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

Looking forward,

Stephanie

The Response:

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

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

Thanks but no thanks, Loser!

IC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 red 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??

And in the end, I tuned in to my “Wisest All-Knowing Self” and as you can see — I most certainly did NOT get a red Mustang convertible.

 

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!

 

That Time God Left Me a Voicemail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOD!!! — Sure, whatever.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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