Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Trouble With Lying About Your Age

I'm (on the right) with my adorable sorority sisters in 1981. l'll never tell which one was my partner in crime.

I've always done it. From an early age, my parents even encouraged it. One year, they had my older brother pretend to be nine when he was twelve in order to get into a drive-in movie for free. My dad quizzed him several times to make sure he could smoothly rattle off his fake date of birth, so that our parents would only be charged for two tickets instead of three. I could rest easy, as I was really nine, and in the clear. My brother worked well under pressure, and passed with flying colors during the practice drills. When my dad pulled up to the front of the line, the cashier asked him our ages. Before my brother could speak, my dad anxiously blurted out, "He's twelve and she's nine." They never asked my brother to lie again, but I was a different story.

As I grew, the lies grew with me. When I was fifteen, I passed for eighteen at my brother's college campus. The drinking laws were very lax in the 70's, so I just had to say the fake date and year I was born in before I transformed into an instant coed.

Things became more difficult during my college years. The drinking age changed from nineteen to twenty-one, and if you were caught with a fake ID, it was immediately confiscated. Fortunately, my tall, blond sorority sister came to the rescue with a copy of her driver's license.

It's true how everything comes around full circle. Now I fib about my age at the movies in order to get a senior discount. Some of my friends have caught me in the act, and hide while I purchase our tickets. It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't the same age, and older.

As for my lovely, kind and considerate older sorority sister, today she has a bionic hip, and still looks great in a bikini. Though at fifty-four she is a year older, she could pass for ten years younger. You would think I'd learned my lesson, but once a liar always a liar.

At a recent college graduation party for a family friend,  I decided to join in conversation with a group of women whom I'd never met. Introductions were made, and the topic of age came up. One woman said she was forty-five, another fifty-four, and then it was my turn. As they waited for my response to this silly question, I thought it only appropriate to respond with a silly answer. I concentrated on keeping a straight face when I told them I was seventy-two. Without missing a beat, the younger woman replied in all seriousness, "Well, you must have stayed out of the sun then."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Middle-Aged Bragging Rights


Do you ever notice how some people can't go one minute without bragging? They start at a young age, and every conversation turns into a competition. They go to the best schools, graduate with the best jobs, marry the best spouses, and move into the best homes.

After their gorgeous and gifted children move away, they come to the realization that they have very little to talk about. They're at that awkward age where their bodies are creaking, and their weight is shifting in the wrong places. Trapped in middle-aged limbo: too young for retirement, yet too old to sit in a chair without dozing off. If only they had grandchildren to bounce on their knees before arthritis kicks in. Here they are, a group of friends gathered around the picnic table bundled up in blankets beside a roaring fire on a balmy summer evening playing the latest board game. 

It's Toots and Bladders, Battered Hip, and Crazy Mates all rolled into one: the game where it pays to decay. A player draws the first card which asks, "Have you ever had a cyst lanced from your perineum?"  Raymond answers "yes," collects $200, and advances his miniature oxygen tank down the board.  Pearl throws the dice, and lands on Constipation Blvd. Everyone presses the buzzers at once. To break the four-way tie Lexi shouts out, "How long has it been?"  Pearl answers "five days," Raymond three, Lexi two, and Leonard adds, "since lunchtime."

When Leonard proudly admits to having hair plugs he is forced to move his miniature enema kit into the Unnecessary Cosmetic Procedure Pavilion forfeiting his next turn. Now the competition has shifted from earlier conversations about material possessions to who has the largest surgical scars.  The couples are thrilled to have something to talk about, even if it means battling it out to see who has suffered the most. 

Lexi draws the final card which reads, "Congratulations on your fifth anniversary of being cancer-free..." Lexi can't believe that her husband and closest friends remembered it has been almost five years to the day since she underwent her last radiation treatment for breast cancer. She is so excited that they went to all the trouble of ordering a customized version of the game just for her. Then she reads the rest of the card, "...and your mother-in-law will be joining in the celebration tomorrow, when she moves in with you after her hip replacement surgery." With that everyone turns their winnings o
ver to Lexi, right after prying her hands off of Leonard's hair plugs.

This is a repost from November 2011.                              

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IWSG: Stamping Out Horrible Handwriting

It's time for the August edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support Group. Be sure to visit  Alex J. Cavanaugh, and the rest of the talented bloggers who will welcome you with open arms.
 I'll never forget the summer of '67 when our parents took us to Anaheim, CA to see the All Star Game. My dad and brother were huge baseball fans, and my mom and I were excited to be minutes away from Disneyland.  Many of the best players in baseball were staying at our hotel, so my brother had his autograph book with him at all times. 
Though I was only six, I still remember my mom calling my dad to come directly to the pool, as Sandy Koufax was seated only a few lounge chairs away from us. My brother got his autograph, along with Willie Mays, and several other Hall of Fame players. He guarded his autograph book with his life, and couldn't wait to show all of his friends when we came home. 
These memories came flooding back to me when my husband went with my brother, and our boys to a baseball game over the weekend. When they were younger, they also enjoyed waiting for their favorite Cubs to sign their baseballs. 
Though I never had any luck getting famous authors' autographs, I've dreamed of being asked to sign a copy of my own book. Unfortunately, that dream could turn into a nightmare, as I've always had horrible handwriting. It was especially illegible on hot school days. As a lefty, my teachers delighted in seeing my smudged papers. Most autographs are written with permanent marker, which means trouble for me even on a cool day. Though I haven't actually written my life story yet, and odds are no one will be lining up for my autograph, all it takes is for one displaced person to ask. 
This brings some important questions to mind. If this person is kind enough to pay for my book, is it right for me to deface it with my careless cacography? Would this crime go on my permanent record? I could pretend I'm a Notary Public, and carry my own personal stamp with me at all times. Better yet, I should just change my name to Anonymous.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mrs. Temple's Guide To Having Daughters Will Curl Your Hair


As we were going through her long list of disappointments, my mom mentioned that I never gave her a granddaughter. Though she loves both of her grandsons dearly, she regrets I didn't also have a daughter.

When I tried to explain there was no guarantee my third child would've been a girl, she stopped me in my tracks. "Shirley Temple's mother wanted a little girl, and she knew exactly what to do to have one."

"What did Mrs.Temple do?"

"She went to a doctor who told her if she wanted an adorable little girl who could sing, dance, and be one of the biggest stars in the world, her husband would have to get his tonsils out."

"And did he?"

"Of course he did. Not only was Shirley Temple a huge child star, but she went on to become an ambassador."

I immediately searched the Internet, and found a 1988 excerpt from Shirley Temple Black's autobiography Child Star in People Magazine. The energetic sixty-year-old wrote how her father had a tonsillectomy to "improve his chances of siring a female," after his two older sons were born. Apparently, my mom sat in on a guest speaker highlighting Shirley Temple Black's life.

Later, I asked my husband if he would've had his tonsils removed if we were assured of having a daughter. He reminded me of when he originally went in to have a tonsillectomy in fifth grade. He ended up spending several days in the hospital, and went home without having the procedure. I asked him if his parents visited him at all during that time, why he didn't have the tonsillectomy, and if he even got to have ice-cream? He answered "yes" to the ice-cream question.

I told my mom she could look forward to having granddaughter-in-laws, and great granddaughters. Cheerfully she remarked, "I won't live long enough to have a conversation with my great granddaughters."

Then I started thinking about what my relationships would be like with my future daughters-in-law. I remembered how it took a long time for me to grow on my mother-in-law. Fortunately, she started to like me after she turned ninety.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Double Duty With C. Lee McKenzie

To celebrate C. Lee McKenzie's Double Negative blog tour, I asked her to tell us about her secret double life. Below is Lee's most captivating cover reveal yet.

I have seen double: after a launch, after too much wine, after editing a manuscript. Those are a few times I can vouch for double vision. And I have played doubles tennis. I used to play that every week before I started writing books. If there's a double scoop of ice cream it will be on a hot fudge sundae. Yum. Never dated twins. Have dated two, er, three boys at a time. Very complicating and too overlapping. Gave that up after one try. I'm just not devious enough to pull that kind of thing off.

I forgot to ask Lee if she ever doubles down at blackjack, but something tells me she would also be an excellent poker player. If anyone asks you didn't hear it from me, because I don't know nothing.

Double Negative, by C. Lee McKenzie.

Hutchison McQueen is a sixteen-year-old smart kid who screws up regularly. He’s a member of Larkston High’s loser clique, the boy who’s on his way to nowhere—unless juvenile hall counts as a destination. He squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. When that doesn’t work, he goes to Fat Nyla, the one some mean girls are out to get and a person who’s in on his secret—he can barely read.

And then Maggie happens. For twenty-five years she’s saved boys from their own bad choices. But she may not have time to save Hutch. Alzheimer’s disease is steadily stealing her keen mind.

You can find out more at C. Lee McKenzie's websiteblog, or Facebook Fan Page. There's also a giveaway for Double Negative and for Amazon gift cards here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Mom The Tantalizer

Could this be me?*

Recently, we were reunited with our cousins on my husband's side of the family. We hadn't seen some of the youngest cousins in a few years, and a cute little eight-year-old boy greeted me with a big hug. At first I was so excited that I immediately told his parents how sweet he was. It wasn't until later that it hit me. I was slowly turning into one of those old ladies that parents told their children to embrace at all costs, or else.

I phoned my mom immediately. Surely she would give me the loving support I needed. "Mom, did you ever get the feeling that you were getting obligatory hugs and kisses from friends and relatives of all ages?  Do men turn away to avoid eye contact while offering their cheeks for you to kiss, and do small children ever give you robotic hugs just to please their parents?"

My mom thought for a moment, and replied, "No." Then she told me how just the other day, two men in her "habitat" were fighting over her in the pool room. It got so bad that administrators had to take away their pool cues, so they were forced to play with empty paper towel rolls. These duels were becoming frequent occurrences, because of her "tantalizing green eyes."

A few days later. I drove my mom to the beauty shop. She gave the shampoo girl strict instructions before she started washing her hair. These instructions included: "I need cotton in both ears. don't mess up the make-up, and be sure not to get my eyebrows wet." Her weekly demands were being recited, as we were tying to hoist my mom up to the sink. Sometimes she uses her walker as a launch pad.

Several hours later when we were finally ready to leave, the shampoo girl gave my mom an unexpected warning. I thought for sure she was going to tell my mom off; instead, she said that she was going to kiss her. My mom politely tried to talk her out of it, but the spell was cast. She planted a big kiss on her cheek, as my mom just smiled at me, and shrugged her shoulders. Needless to say, we drove all the way home in complete silence.

*photo courtesy of

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Whoever Said That Brothers Don't Know Squat About Gift Giving?

Last weekend we had a small 4th of July gathering with family and friends. When my brother arrived, he quickly dropped something off in the guest bedroom behind the kitchen. Then he told me to look at it privately when I had a chance. At the time, I was busy scrambling all of the side dishes together, while my husband was manning the grill. I couldn't imagine what he had brought, but I thanked him as my mom was being carried through our garage landing like Cleopatra.

After dinner, we cleared off the table, and started putting everything away. We were trying to decide if anyone wanted to walk over to see the fireworks, when I noticed that a few of our guests were missing. I found my friend, and my mom's caregiver texting from across the kitchen table. At first, I was wondering if they were texting each other, "Can you believe that Julie doesn't know from good wine? Of course, I had to bring my own bottle to be polite."

Then I was wondering if they were texting for help, "I'm so bored. If you won't come pick me up, could you at least give me a creative excuse to leave?" Before I could snatch their phones, my brother asked if I had opened up his present.

I took a quick peek, and brought it into the the dining room for everyone to see. Never before had I heard so many oohs, and aahs. My brother had bought us a Squatty Potty for our anniversary.

The Squatty Potty slides easily under your toilet allowing you to squat like our ancestors did, so that you can "poop like a pro." Our dear friend immediately ran into our powder room to demonstrate the product for us, but since we have so few dear friends, this model will have to suffice.

This was just the icebreaker our party needed to really loosen things up. Flushed with excitement, we were on a roll. The next minute it was as if we were shooting our own Squatty Potty infomercial. One guest chimed in with how the Squatty Potty helped prevent hemorrhoids, while another said that she heard it got the job done toot sweet. Then my mom inquired, "Do you have to have the urge to go before you use it?"

A moment later we noticed that the Squatty Potty was missing. Then our smiling son returned with the portable step stool in tow. You could've heard a pin drop when he proudly announced, "It works."