Happy Vow-entines Day (I Vow not to let this day impact me)

February is just a month. 14 is just a number. It’s all about commercialism anyhow.

These are the things I’ve told myself ever since I was in the 4th grade and Mrs. Gerson had us craft little mailboxes out of empty tissue boxes, (the open slit at the top was perfect for dropping notes inside) paint cute red hearts on them, and then distribute valentines to our classmates. Note: There was no rule back then that you had to give everyone a valentine. I received exactly three. One was from Mrs. Gerson.

Lesson learned? Only cry if you have a second tissue box that hasn’t been converted into a mailbox.

But here’s some big Valentine news to me. It’s not just a single day I’m dealing with anymore, now it’s an entire week! Did anyone else know this?  Click HERE

Starting on February 7 the official days are called: Rose Day, Propose Day, Chocolate Day, Teddy Day, Promise Day, Hug Day, and Kiss Day.

Oh my god. Can I add another week of days to follow after Valentine’s Day?

Feb 15: “What the hell just happened?” day. Feb 16: “Argue and Fight” day. Feb 17: “Makeup Sex” day. Feb 18: “Presidents” day (contemplate what sleeping with Washington or Lincoln would be like) Feb 19: ” Back on Diet” day (Chocolate Day got a little out of hand) Feb 20: “Flirt with others” day. Feb 21: `”Discuss whether the above mentioned ‘Teddy Day’ was supposed to just be about an adorable stuffed bear or something more like this” day.

Does every male now know this type of lingerie is called a Teddy?

I would now like to offer some alternative solutions to this confusing holiday of Love. We could simply change the V to a P and it easily becomes “Palentine’s Day”– Honor the friends who are there after each heartache we suffer.

Or change up the ending of the word. “Valentwine Day” — Tie up those we love with rope until they say “yes” when we ask, “Will you be mine?”

Or we could pay tribute to five overlooked letters of the alphabet that need a little more attention because they’re constantly reminded they’re not consonants. A-E-I-O-U and Y. That’s right…..

 “Happy Vowelentine’s Day!” 

(Hallmark, listen up!)

A — is for “Adore” which is always much easier to say instead of the L-word.

E — is for “Everything” that I put in my dating profile that I am looking for in a match. And you decide to pretend to be all of those things to win me over in the beginning and now you’re feeling put upon. But when you try to go back to being your real self, I’ll cry out, “You’ve changed!” in an accusing sort of way, but really you just went back to being who you originally were in the first place. Gotta love E.

I — is for “Ice-Cream.” Any flavor works after what E stood for.

O — is for “Overwhelmed” which is something you can say (“I feel overwhelmed!”) anytime you want someone to give you space.

U — is for “Unite.” But also for “Untie.” Which is very scary in a relationship if anyone has dyslexia.

Y — is for “Yawn.” Are you feeling bored in your relationship? Console yourself by remembering that Y is only sometimes a vowel! Occasional boredom you can live with, yes? Y is also for “Yes!”

Readers: Feel free to leave me a comment describing the worst thing that ever happened to you on Valentine’s Day. 

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Beware — The Vulnerable, Vacillating, Vanishing Valentine Villain!

 

 

It all began on February 1st because I went to see my therapist for ideas on how to feel closer to my neighbors and become a bigger part of my local community.

Therapist: How can I help you?

Me: Every day I walk exactly 11 miles before 11:11 pm on the clock and…

Therapist: So you’re here to address your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Me: No, that’s just my lucky number. The point is I encounter tons of neighbors on my walks but nobody says hello or acts friendly at all. And if I wave, they just ignore me.

Therapist: So you have a fear of rejection and a wounded child syndrome.

After I convinced her I was emotionally healthy, we decided the approaching Feb 14th holiday was the ideal opportunity for me to foster a more neighborly attitude. I would bake heart-shaped cookies and leave a sweet message on nearby front porches. Perfect. It would be a “Love Thy Neighbor” type of deal. Hey! Maybe I’d even start a new trend like that “Pay It Forward” kid did and become famous!

Then came all the trouble over “LOVE.” Because it was centered around the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, of course I wrote “I Love You!” on a sticky Post-It and attached it to the plate. Hallmark says it and so do those putrid conversation heart candies — why can’t I?

The next morning my neighbor confronted me at the mailbox with raised eyebrows and asked me what exactly I meant by that? I assured him I’ve lived here for nineteen years now and had just grown fond of his entire family. He frowned and hurried away, issuing a warning about mounting one of those video surveillance cameras on his front door.

I consulted my therapist who advised me to omit the “I” from “I Love you!” It was too overt and felt threatening to people, she told me. “Besides if you’re signing your name, they all know who you are anyhow,” she further explained.

Okaaaay. Cookies went out again, this time with a card that simply stated, “Love You!”

That afternoon, I overheard two neighbors talking in suspicious tones underneath my window.

Neighbor #1: What’s up with this Stephanie chick and those weird, mushy sentiments?

Neighbor #2: Yeah! Why can’t she just wait until Halloween and leave the normal, “You’ve been booed!” scary anonymous goblin note with treats instead?

So essentially I live in an area where people would rather be spooked than loved!

My therapist next recommended I try a different cul-de-sac of homes and dial it back even more. She suggested writing “Luv Ya!” because that was somehow more appropriate. Why I had to intentionally misspell words didn’t make any sense, but if that’s what it took, I was on it.

My children were annoyed that I kept baking heart-shaped cookies around the clock but not a one was for their consumption. Nevertheless I was determined to make this plan a success. The next batches went out late at night and I felt really good about it — plus my signature was now, “From Your Secret Valentine Vixen!” so it would be completely anonymous like the Halloween ghost thing they mentioned.

I was confident my neighborhood would now be a much nicer place to take walks in! But that was before I ran into five women standing in a huddle and looking disturbed. I moved in closer to hear what all the fuss was about.

Neighbor #1: There’s a Valentine Vamp after our husbands!

Neighbor #2: Yes! And she’s also a Valentine Vandal. There were cookie sprinkles littered all over our brand new front doormat.

Neighbor #3: Plus she’s undermining our parental authority because we don’t allow sugar anywhere near our children.

Me: (enthusiastically joining in) The sheer audacity of this woman. Let’s intercept her mail!

And that’s how I hit on the best way to get close to all my neighbors . . . I would bond with them through everyone’s anger and disgust over me – the loving Valentine cookie baker!

But for good measure, I left a plate of exactly 11 heart-shaped confections on my therapist’s office door with a note that said, “Wuv U!”

She called me immediately. Her voicemail said, “We really must work on your OCD and that neglected Inner Child of yours!”

 

I Plead “No Contest!” (When Entering Writing Competitions)

I’ve never entered a writing contest before. Although every time I submit my work to an editor, technically I’m competing against other author “contestants” who want to have their creations appear in the exact same magazine, anthology, or website. And when the prize is an acceptance notice of publication, yes I feel like a winner. That’s a contest if you ask me and so I’ve entered many.

However this writing contest was different. . .

I’ve written novels and screenplays before, but this contest was for live theater and the winners get their words brought to life on a stage in front of an audience. Sign me up!

The other difference was that I only found out about this contest a mere 24 hours prior to the submission deadline, which threw me into some fast and furious typing. And the rules specified it could be a comedy OR a meaningful, serious drama. After some inner debate, I chose to do humor. Big surprise.

But in the end, my biggest dilemma was needing help choosing which play to submit (somehow two distinctly different scripts had been birthed from my infertile, barren brain….fraternal twins?) because I couldn’t decide on my own which was more brilliant. Or (every other hour) which script sucked less. The rules were clear — one entry per person.

Who in my life was competent to give this kind of input and more to the point, would help me make this decision extremely QUICKLY? (Yikes! Like within the next thirty minutes!) The first thing I did was turn to another writer friend (Samantha) who owed me a huge favor since I had recently critiqued her query letter and it helped her land an agent.

Samantha expediently sent me a ton of elaborate feedback on both my scripts. But what wasn’t clear, was her opinion of which one she recommended I should enter into the contest — essentially the only question I had originally asked!

I emailed back and said, “Thank you! But which one was better?” Samantha replied, “That’s personal preference. But I’m on pins and needles waiting to hear what you thought of my feedback?”

So here I am with hours to go until the deadline and I’ve got a narcissistic friend/egomaniac writer expecting me to critique her critique!?

Ugh. Frantically I sent both possibilities to my mother, along with the rules of the contest so she could see the criteria with which they’d be judged. “Ps. Please Hurry!” was how my email ended. After many long hours, she wrote back, “I contemplated this very carefully. I’d go with the one about your multiple personalities falling in love with each other at a cocktail party. But both of them were very meaningful and serious dramas.” I wrote back, “Thanks, mom! But they were both comedies. Which one made you laugh more?”  And then she called me and said, “If you like contests so much, the county fair has a watermelon-eating one you can enter this weekend.”

Okaaay! I’m done with asking females for help. Turning to men has sometimes worked for me in the past. Quickly I sent my scripts to a great guy who performs in local community theatre, pleading “Which one??”  He finally wrote back that both of them had dialogue sections that didn’t sound very good when belted out in his shower. I forgot he only does musical theatre.

Feeling truly desperate, I took my beginning narrator’s lines from each possible entry and sent them as my introductory messages to two different men with dating profiles on Match.com. Whoever wrote me back first and said “That’s really funny!” would be how I would make my decision.

The first bachelor wrote back,  “Hi! Sorry, I’m only 5 ft. 4 and I make it a rule not to do taller women because things won’t line up properly.” Very helpful input. And then the other wrote back, “Meet tonight at 7 pm for a drink? Ps. And are you a therapist? Damn! That was some crazy psycho-babble, babe.”

But now thinking about therapists and my own past sessions… I had the answer to my quandary of which script to submit to the contest. I would send both! One would be entered under my own real name. And then the second script (about my multiple personalities falling in love at a cocktail party) would be sent under the name Sybil. Problem solved!

Readers– Have you entered writing contests? Have you had as much trouble as this? Oh! Also I was recently interviewed. You can check it out just below. But why is it called “Woman on the Edge of Reality?” Lol. 

An interview with Stephanie Lewis, author of Lullabies & Alibis

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Expert Blogging Tips You Should Promptly Ignore!

1. Blog Every Day — Do NOT do this! I’m actually waiting for the “experts” to diagnose our blogs (which don’t have well-formed, regular posts coming out like clockwork) with having “Blogstipation” and prescribing us something like Metamucil (I met a Muse ill one time as well!) which would contain FingerFiber to unblock our hands when they’re too bloated to type. All kidding aside, if you’re going to put writing out there this consistently, you’re depriving your readers of that intense and exciting emotion known as “yearning.” They cannot miss you if you’re constantly in their face. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder!” Didn’t you ever find that message in your fortune cookie? Or do you subscribe to the opposite (idiotic?) idiom which goes, “Outa sight, outa mind!” and only holds true for spouses justifying cheating when their significant other is on a business trip.  I myself intentionally go months without posting something and then wait for readers to demand I return to the blogosphere, which is usually illustrated by them throwing me a “Coming Home” surprise party. Basically when I log into WordPress, a cheery notification pops up that says, “Welcome Back!” and that’s how I know my numerous fans simply cannot bear my playing hard to get anymore. Bottom line is keep ’em wanting more — blog twice yearly.

2. Write Great Content: Say what? No! Don’t do this. Once you start out with excellent stuff, you’re denying your readers the chance to say, “I knew Mr./Ms Blogger when they were writing pure drivel.” Here’s what you do — write mediocre paragraphs sandwiched by a yummy headline and a delicious call-to-action conclusion. This framework supports your post in the manner to which it’s become accustomed, and people only read those parts anyhow. Think about it. Do you really scrutinize the turkey or roast beef in your lunch or are you marveling at the golden flaky sourdough bread perfectly cradling the savory mayo and mustard? So toast your titles to perfection and spread the condiment conclusion extra thick. I guarantee any way you slice it, people will continue to order your blog!

3. Comment On Other Blogs Frequently:  The theory being that if you sprinkle enough breadcrumbs online, readers will trace those scintillating trail of comments back to your own writing. But do you really want a bunch of followers named Hansel and Gretel? And besides doing this will get you a reputation as a “Rampant Remarker” and you’ll have to drink Constant Comment tea! Just remember — “Those that can …do. Those that can’t… teach!” You’re smart enough to somehow tweak this bumper sticker proverb so it’ll work wisely for this example, aren’t you?

4. Run a Competition and give prizes!: Hold on there, Ed McMahon! (Did you know he never even officially worked for the Publisher’s Clearing House contest? Check it out right HERE) Think about it — you hold a competition to grow your blog bigger, right? But if you NEED to grow your blog, that means there are currently very few people reading it to enter your exciting contest. Every time the Academy Awards show “The Oscars” rolled around, I’d run a similar promotion on Once Upon Your Prime cleverly calling it, “The Blogademy Awards” or “The Bloscars” and advertise awesome prizes for all 25 different types of blogs. That’s right, instead of generating my own new writing material (and subsequently making people laugh) every post consisted of me obsessed with begging convincing potential contestants to enter my competition because I was the judge and I always wanted to be able to say, “Due to an overwhelming number of submissions for Best Supporting Blog, picking a winner was extremely difficult so therefore we have a tie!” But nooooooo, because I was too embarrassed to cancel my contest and confess there wasn’t enough competition, I ended up sending out gift cards to the same blogger who entered every single category. That’s right — they now have a lifetime supply of Starbucks and the following year they asked if the prize could be a Target gift card. Of course they did. Just say “NO!” to holding contests!

5. Be Controversial!:  Professional bloggers will tell you they got popular by taking an opposing view and not being afraid to offend people. This is supposed to make your blog go viral and (if you write humor like me?) maybe you can be the Don Rickles of blogging. No!! With three exceptions, don’t do this! The first is writing a blog on men carrying handbags — because you’ll not only have controversy, you’ll have contropursey! Alternatively ask, “Should there be male assistants in doctor’s offices?” and then you’ll also have a big contronursey on your hands.  Or just play it safe and frustrate readers by typing in an irritating light-colored font like this. Of course we call that being Fontroversial!

6. Tell People to Ignore Expert Advice: It’s really transparent that you’re just trying to make others suck so your blog will stand out big time next to all the losers.

Readers: Leave any other tips you currently disregard in the comments

Another Star Is Born!

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

Just picture this:

Another Star is Born

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

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

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

Me: No, no, I can’t do it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Dirty Freelancing”

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

Patrick Swayze: Nobody puts Babyephanie in a corner!

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

“I, Margaret”

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

What? It could happen!

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

FlashFiction

What a Feeling!

(Cue familiar music right HERE)

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

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

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

 

Not Your Typical Mom & Pop Stores!

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

IMAGINE IF YOU WILL . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Willy Wonka’s Long Lost SECRET Diary Has Surfaced!

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

First Entry

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

 

 

??

 

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

Second Entry

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

Third Entry

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

Fourth Entry

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

Fifth Entry

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

Sixth Entry

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

Seventh Entry

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

Eighth Entry

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

Ninth Entry

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

Tenth Entry

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

Eleventh Entry

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

Twelfth Entry

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

Thirteenth Entry

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

Fourteenth Entry

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

Now Back …. By Popular Demand!

back by popular demand, newspaper article text

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

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

Youngest Daughter: Eww. Seriously?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that ended that little experiment.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alrighty then. Ashamed, I put this up today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Illustrative of couple representing online dating