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?

What Happens After The Honeymoon is Over?

         Going, going . . . GONE!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

HIM: So what’s your favorite color?

ME: Why do you ask?

HIM: I’d like to buy you something.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Science says THIS has an expiration date. Noooooooo!

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

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

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

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

 

Introducing The Romance Resume (using myself as an example)

 

 Stephanie D. Lewis

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

icleanupnice@gmail.com

 

SUMMARY

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

EXPERIENCE

HOT MESS IN SAN DIEGO (Marriage — 10 Years)

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

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

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

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

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

AWARDS/ACHIEVEMENTS/AFFLICTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

EDUCATION

Studied Ginger Grant’s walk on Gilligan’s Island

Mentored by Lucy Ricardo

Graduated Charm School w/ Post Alpha Bitta Cereal honors

 

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

***** 8/02/19

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

Introducing a Personal Direction Sheet (written example by Hasbro)

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

Do You Have a Personal Conspiracy Theory?

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

NOBODY REALLY LIKES SUSHI

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

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

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

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YAMS AND SWEET POTATOES

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

LESS IS REALLY MORE

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

THE PEST CONTROL COMPANIES ARE THE REAL PESTS

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

THERE IS JUST ONE SINGLE GUY ON MATCH.COM

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

LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING UNTIL . . .

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

THERE ARE NOT FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY

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

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

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

THERE WAS ACTUALLY A THIRD TWIN!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEVER EVER OFFER THESE SOLUTIONS….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Mike Lindell,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stephanie AKA Little Miss Menopause

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

 

Lessons I Learned From Going on Dates and Bringing my Toy!

There was a time when first meetings with men from online websites consisted solely of mundane beach walks and ho-hum coffee talks. But then I decided to make it more interesting and bring some “props.”  Here’s some of the takeaway and things I gleaned:

BUBBLES

From my purse I extracted two tiny vials of soap bubbles purchased from Target. This was not as bizarre as it sounds because we were sitting in a park.

HIM: Bubbles. Really??

Me: I think they’re fun! Let’s see who can blow and preserve the most by catching them on our wands.

HIM: Sure.

Me: Uh, could you stop intentionally poking my bubbles? That’s literally the opposite of what I suggested we do.

HIM: Just ten more?

Me: Really. It’s very important to me to see how long a beautiful but fragile bubble can last. Don’t you put stock in symbolism??

HIM: Sorry. I can’t seem to stop. Pop! Pop! Pop!

Little children began to gather around us, but the date actually ended when my dream bubble literally burst as it dawned on me that (after five days of non-stop compatible emailing) this was someone who was either mean-spirited or had a strange case of OCD and I should certainly “blow off” any further dates with him.

PLAY-DOH

From my purse, I deftly pulled out five mini canisters of that iconic children’s colored modeling compound and sniffed the distinctive scent (always takes me back fifty years!) then watched as the smile faded from my date’s face. I then proceeded to roll out a replica of his annoying frown using red Play-Doh and stuck it on the blue ball of Play-Doh, which now represented his dumb head! But he wouldn’t participate because he said he doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. Then he chastised me for combining the different colors together because (his words!) it will be hard to separate them and put them away neatly. The date ended when he inquired, “So how long have you been a preschool teacher?” And I responded, “I’m not. What an odd question. Whatever made you think I was?”

SILLY PUTTY

I withdrew from my purse (I know! I’ve got some great purse, huh?!) the classic red plastic egg which housed the addictive Silly Putty and handed it to my date to see how he’d use it. He was very enthusiastic! This was a great sign. Game on! But instead of pinching it, rolling it, or putting his thumb into it to make a hollow hole and then squeezing it tightly to produce the loudest, most satisfying cracking sound ever, he asked to see my drivers license. What?? Over and over he pressed the flat rubbery substance against my photo and after it magically transferred onto the Silly Putty, he’d distort my image by pulling it this way and that while murmuring things like, “Look! You’ve got the longest nose in the world. Honk honk!  And the skinniest neck, giraffe lady! Haha.” And “I’m gonna make your hair stick up even further than it actually does. Watch!” Game over. Date definitely over. PS. Even if he didn’t make my face look grotesquely cartoonish, he had some weird accent that made him refer to it as “Silly Potty” and there was only so much of that I could take.

JACKS

It did not help matters that my timing with this specific object was rather unfortunate because this guy’s name was actually “Jack” and he thought by picking this particular toy, I was insinuating that he was a “Player.” Sheesh, some people put too much stock in symbolism. He also kept asking, “What era did you grow up in? My great great great grandmother played Jacks.” There were too many “greats” in his sentence for my liking. Finally we lost the little red ball completely and he thought a better game was to see who could stand upon all the Jacks the longest (barefoot!) without grimacing.

LITE-BRITE

Remember this beloved contraption with the little colored pegs? I should have known how this would turn out when I texted my date, asking him to bring batteries so we could use my favorite “toy.” He immediately messaged back, “Oh, I’m on it, babe! And I can’t wait for you to be on it, too. Heh heh.” Words cannot describe how disappointed he was to see what I actually had in mind for a “toy” when we met in real life.  But my bigger mistake? Lite-Brite only works in a dim room. And therefore it was in the dark co-ed public restroom with the door locked, when my mind became fully illuminated that Lite-Brite should never be attempted with a Grope Dope.

SLINKY

This man used the wonderful metal spring to bind my wrists and ankles to the park bench and then stole my purse and cellphone while singing the original product jingle — “Slinky, Slinky, it’s fun for a girl and a boy.”

MAGIC 8-BALL

What do you do with a guy who cannot understand that you can only ask a Magic 8-Ball “yes or no” questions? This isn’t a difficult concept, seriously! Yet he kept asking it things like, “What will Stephanie be like in bed?” and “How many times will Stephanie climax?” and “Where’s the most unique place we’ll do it?” Finally, out of frustration I shouted, “No!  Don’t you get it? You can’t ask stuff like that. You have to ask something like, “Will Stephanie sleep with me even though I’m a complete idiot?” He was thrilled this suggestion came directly from me and made this exact inquiry three different times, claiming the answers in a row were, “It is decidedly so” and “Without a doubt!” and “You may rely on it” but then he’d shake the black ball up really quickly before I could verify any of that. Which was a moot point anyhow because “my sources (AND my senses!) said “No f*#@ing way.”

Barbie & Ken Dolls

Really I thought these toys would have zero chance of coming out of my purse, but to my surprise his reaction was, “Cool. How about we use them to act out different gender issues and dating challenges by utilizing their bodies and our voices.” Creative. I’m liking it! Then he actually suggests that he’ll be Barbie (It was really a Midge doll, but did he need to know that?) and use her to depict the type of woman he likes to be with. This oughta be interesting. And then he tells me to be Ken. Ha. Fat chance. But hey, if I can learn some telltale things, it’s probably worth talking in an embarrassingly deep voice.

Ken: Hey baby. How about you and I play a little Lite-Brite in the public bathroom??

Barbie: I don’t do sexual innuendo. Let’s grab a salad and see the live version of Les Miserábles.

(Salad, not pizza? And OMG that’s my absolute favorite show! Nobody ever wants to see that show. This guy has potential.) 

Ken: Are you sure? Okay hop in and we’ll take the “scenic” route. Heh heh.

Barbie: Sorry. I don’t let guys I’ve just met drive me places. I make it a rule to meet them there.

Ken: (slaps Barbie’s ass) Hard to get! That gets me hard.

Barbie (slaps Ken’s face)

Ken: Man, you’re a prudish bitch.

Barbie: Yeah. And quirky too. But I’m sure they’ll be another Bimbo err Barbie who will be into it with you. Good luck with your herpes.

Quirky? It’s like someone gave this guy the CliffNotes on me before he arrived. Immediately I snatch the dolls and stuff them away in my bag, and pull out this favorite childhood toy instead.

Because finally I found someone who’s a barrel of fun and perhaps a guy I’ll truly want to have a little monkey business with. 😉

Readers: What’s your favorite Childhood Toy? Leave it in the comments!

My Success Story: Author Goes Door-To-Door!

Well it’s not exactly as “successful” as my blog title makes it sound. For years I’ve walked 11 miles every day for health/fitness reasons, so when I saw the local ad (Wanted: Individual to hang notepads in plastic bags on doorknobs, $15/hr) I realized I could get paid for the same exercise I already do anyhow for free! The real-estate agent told me how quiet and peaceful it would be, walking through serene neighborhoods. He said I could listen to podcasts or music and never have to talk to anyone like typical door-to-door salesmen do. What could be better?

I’ve never had more conversations with so many strangers in my entire life.

With telephones, people have Caller ID and they know it’s you before they answer. Similarly, everyone has video cameras mounted on front porches and apparently they see me coming a mile away. Ever tentatively reach out to unobtrusively put something on someone’s front-door when suddenly it’s abruptly yanked open and they shout in your face, “Whadya want?”

Me: Hi! I have this handy little notepad for you.

Man: What am I gonna do with that?

Me: Well um, you could um make your grocery list on it.

Man: Not a shopper.

Me: Uh, ever play Boggle? You could scribble four and five letter words on it before the timer runs out.

Man: No.

Me: To-Do Lists?

Man: Hate em.

Me: To-Don’t lists??

Man: What do you do with your notepad?

Me: I’m a writer so I jot story ideas on it.

Man: And I should give a sh*t about that because…?

Me:  You’re right. You could just throw it in the garbage.

Man: (brightening) Yeah, I could do that! Give it here.

Three houses later I encounter a landscaper who delightedly asks how I like the paver stones he’s bordering the lawn with? I point out eight are slightly crooked. He frowns, grabs my notepad and scrawls, “OCD!” We develop a “don’t ask, don’t tell” relationship and I go on my merry way.

Around the block is a lonely mailman with a leg injury who needs someone to complain to that physical therapy isn’t helping him and then inquires if it would be okay to toss packages onto porches, thereby saving himself the pain of walking up steps? Sure. “The Postman Always Flings Twice!”

Tons of people have their garage doors open. I’ve never really noticed how many folks spend quality time out there, amongst their cars, their lawnmowers, and their bikes just sort of hanging out, puttering around. A couple engages in a sex act while leaning against bags of Round-Up and I think about leaving a notepad on their door titling it, “Garage Fantasies and Role-Plays We’ve Yet To Try” but wisely decide not to.

As I nonchalantly slink by these homes with their open garage doors (in order not to disturb the occupants and avoid further human interaction) nine times out of ten they call me over.

Woman: Hey! Whatcha got there? Why you passing my house? I want one.

Me: Oh just some silly notepads. You don’t really need any. Totally useless.

Woman: I’ll give you a dollar for two.

Me: They’re complimentary. They have advertising on them.

Woman: $30 for the entire stack. And how much for your backpack? I’m having a garage sale this Saturday. I could put that out as well.

Me: Really? Do you want my sweater too? Five bucks.

But it’s at the next house where all the trouble starts in front of a cute birdbath.

Husband: Which broker are you distributing for?

Me: Century 21.

Wife: We’re Nationwide Realtors. How much they paying you?

Me: $15 an hour. Under the table.

Wife: $22.50 an hour under the table and also under four dining room chairs!

Me: Really??!

Husband: Only if you retrace your steps and replace their crummy notepads with our awesome bookmarks.

I imagine re-encountering the grumpy guy, the limping mailman, the garage sale girl, the landscaper, the sex addicts, and I start to feel exhausted.

Me: Can I just put your bookmarks inside a novel I wrote and leave it as a package deal for $20?

Wife: Sure, why not?

Taking a cue from the mailman, I march back to my car (where the trunk holds boxes of my extra novels which are doing nothing) and proceed to throw my books from the driver’s window onto the front steps of hundreds of homes, yelling all the while, “Read this! It’s a best-seller. Oh yeah and check out the free bookmark!”

And that could be part of the reason I’m now referred to as the “Drive-By Shouter” but at least I don’t have to talk to anyone in person. And so much for getting paid to exercise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody had to know it involves anesthesia, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“When are you available?” she inquired.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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