Memory glitches

cropped-crazy-phone-princessI just addressed a get well card to a friend’s mother. She’s in the hospital back in my home town, so I went online to check the hospital’s mailing address. As I copied the street number on the envelope, I realized I didn’t need to check the zip code, even though I haven’t lived there in many years. Like my first phone number (Howard 6 3817) and the lyrics to my favorite songs from junior high, those bits of information seem to be permanently embedded in my brain, available for instant recall.

But memory is a funny thing as you get older. Here’s what happened to me last week:

I stopped into Heinen’s to pick up a few groceries and recognized the young man packing the bags as the son of my hairdresser. I’ve been going to Lisa for more than four years now and see the school photos of her three kids at every visit. They’re smiling at me, affixed to the wall next to her mirror. I knew Joe worked at the store and recognized him immediately. But here’s what I said:

“Aren’t you Joe, Rosie’s son?”

“Um. I’m Joe, but I don’t know anybody named Rosie,” he replied, looking understandably puzzled.

I realized my mistake, corrected myself, apologized, then went on my way.

But where did “Rosie” come from?

Well, Rosie was the colorist in a salon I frequented in my early forties – more than twenty years ago. I told Lisa on the day I first met her that she reminded me of Rosie. They’re both pretty, petite Italian women with dark hair, big brown eyes, and even bigger smiles. But I haven’t seen Rosie since the mid 1990’s.

What kind of crazy trick was my brain playing by bringing up her name instead of Lisa’s?

I’ve done that with the names of other people, too – usually when two people have a vague physical resemblance and have played similar roles in my life. Jean has been coming to clean my house once a month for the four-plus years I’ve lived in Willoughby. But if my son asks me what I’ve got going on tomorrow, there’s a fifty-fifty chance I’ll tell him Tammy’s coming to clean. Tammy used to clean my house in Madison.

I don’t know if these memory glitches are normal or if I should mention them to my doctor (anyone care to weigh in on that?). I’m not worried so much as curious. If this is normal – why does it happen? And isn’t the mind a remarkable thing?

If I forget to come back here before December is over, I wish you a joyous holiday season and good health and happiness in the year ahead. Thank you for visiting my blog!

No more apologies

Today Tom the “pond guy” showed up at 10 a.m. to put my backyard pond to bed for the winter. He emailed last week to say it was time. I emailed back and said yes, just let me know when to expect you. No response.

bathrobe

Oh, no! The Pond Guy!

The dogs went nuts when his little blue VW Beetle pulled into the drive and I, hair askew, still in my bathrobe, wafting morning coffee breath, sheepishly stepped outside to greet him. Fortunately, Tom seems oblivious to questionable grooming, possibly because his attire for pond-cleaning is casual/tramp – as one would expect for that messy job.

After getting him settled in, I showered and brushed my teeth while Tom and his assistant Maria tackled overgrown reeds and lily pads, and scraped down moss-covered rocks.

But I’m not often given the opportunity to clean up when unexpected guests show up. These days, getting caught in my morning attire happens more often than I care to admit.

You see, without conscious intent, I’ve turned into my father. I used to tease Dad about sitting around the house in his bathrobe until noon. After he retired, unless he had an early morning tee time, Bob would spend a couple hours reading the paper and working on the crossword puzzle every day. He’d follow that with calls to friends to set up future golf dates, or make lunch plans, or maybe discuss the progress and problems of renovations at church. Before “abluting,” which was Dad’s favorite term for taking a bird bath and shaving, he might also pause to read a chapter or two of a book he’d been engrossed in. Or sit at the computer to check on his investments, possibly followed by exchanging email jokes with his buddies in Florida.

At any rate, it wasn’t unusual to find him looking quite dapper in his light blue pinstriped cotton robe and slippers, sipping coffee and keeping himself busy until 11:30 or so. When my mother put lunch on the table at noon, Bob was always dressed for the day, smelling faintly of Bay Rum and Crest toothpaste. Lunch was usually a ham sandwich or bowl of soup, a handful of chips, and a cookie. I wish someone would make that lunch for me. Then I’d really be a chip off the old block.

I’ve discovered that this kind of morning routine suits me perfectly. I’m slightly embarrassed when people drop in unexpectedly, but I decided today that I’m not apologizing any more. Because I am a chubby woman, my face is relatively unlined and strangers tend to guess that I’m significantly younger than my 67 years. If it comes up, I like to tell people that the key to looking young is to stay fluffy.

Paul Hollywood 2

I hope Paul Hollywood never shows up at my door in the morning. But Paul, any other time would be JUST FINE.

I don’t mind being mistaken for being younger, but I can’t help imagining that these folks are wondering why I’m hanging around the house in my bathrobe. Shouldn’t she be at work? Not any more. Is she independently wealthy? No. Is she sick? Nope. Is she lazy? Yes. Maybe. No. Oh, shut up.

I hereby vow to stop making excuses for spending the morning in my robe. I’m retired! I can an even sleep in if I want to! I mean, I won’t, because I don’t, but I lovelovelove spending hours drinking my coffee with vanilla creamer. I love  reading the Cleveland Plain Dealer on my iPad, answering emails, catching up with Facebook, chatting on the phone . . . you get the picture. And why would a stranger who shows up at my door really care? I’m projecting dismay where there may be none, and well, so what?

And there you go. Fair warning. If you show up unexpectedly at my door before noon, it’s on you. I will definitely not look as cute as my dad did, but he was a bald guy whose fringe always looked perfect and his tall frame could make a nicely wrapped and tied bathrobe come off like resort wear.

Miss you, Dad. The only thing better than fiddling around all morning in my bathrobe would be having the chance to spend one of those mornings sharing the paper with you.

Murphy’s law for travel plans

It’s as if my house knows I’m leaving the country for nearly two weeks. Why? Because things are going wrong. Very wrong.

Lucy and Ethel

Eeeeeek!

It started when my son Chris came over to help me clean out the basement a little over a week ago. I had seen mouse droppings and a tiny mouse carcass earlier this summer and without backup, I wasn’t about to shift the boxes and random stuff that took up residence down there when I moved in four years ago. I should toss it all, I suppose. If I haven’t used something, or even missed its existence, in more than four years, why keep it, right?

At any rate, I’m not an expert on mice, having had little experience with them over the years. I am, however, confident that I am not a fan. I’m pretty sure I’d shriek like Lucy or Ethel and charge up the stairs if I encountered a live one.

Happily, that didn’t happen. Chris and I made it through most of the basement detritus (keeping most of it – sigh). I innocently swept up the icky remnants of what I was sure must be long gone tiny tenants. Surely those creatures were simply trying to escape a harsh Ohio winter, right? But since fall is technically here – despite the warmer-than-normal temps – I thought I may as well put a gentle little trap baited with a dab of peanut butter in a corner of the basement. Just as a precautionary measure.

Maybe 48 hours later I awoke to the sound of a repetitive knocking in the middle of the night. In my befuddled state, the mouse trap never came to mind. The dogs were cuddled next to me on the bed and were briefly interested, but quickly settled back into sleep. Squirrels on the roof? A poltergeist? The noise stopped, and I went back to sleep, too.

It wasn’t until Saturday that I thought of the trap. Since it’s the kind that doesn’t kill mice, I thought I’d better go see if some little guy was trapped inside. This would mean putting the entire trap inside a garbage bag, inside a box, inside a larger garbage bag, and driving it to another county for release. But I was game. I think.

Beatrix Potter Mrs T and babies

Mrs. Tittlemouse and possibly her entire family want to move in with me and The Boys. Nooooooo.

As it turned out, I didn’t have the opportunity to test my courage. The top of the trap was pushed halfway off and the bottom was obviously empty. That’s when I saw a mouse standing on its hind legs no more than six feet away from me. It wasn’t moving. I gulped and quietly backed away to see what it would do. The mouse looked just like Beatrix Potter’s Mrs. Tittlemouse, so I will call it “her.” We stared at each other cautiously. Suddenly, she tried to leap up the wall but couldn’t get purchase. When Mrs. T darted my way to hide behind a box and a dresser, I screamed like a little girl and ran upstairs. If she couldn’t jump up on the wall, I figured she’d be stuck in the basement until I found Chris or someone else brave enough to go down and set a less friendly trap.

October 2013

Good for nothing little rascals!

Fast forward to Sunday night. I’m happy in my recliner, boys snoozing on my lap, watching my buddies the “Property Brothers” dealing with asbestos embedded in some poor schmuck’s popcorn ceiling. That’s when I notice Mrs. Tittlemouse – or a friend or relative who looks exactly like her – casually saunter into the living room. She stopped near the doorway, took in the domestic scene, then nonchalantly turned around and strolled back into the kitchen. After I pushed my jaw back up into place, I dumped the dogs from my lap and sent them to the kitchen to investigate. Mick likes me to think he’s a brave hunter and Rich is a terrier, which is a breed that goes after rodents. Neither of them made a peep. I’m trading them in for a cat.

Trying to find an exterminator on a Sunday night is a losing proposition. However, I was lucky – I think – to get Randy from Terminix to come out this morning. $1,500+ later, when I get back from vacation this house will be sealed tighter than Grant’s Tomb to prevent further assaults from critters. Furthermore, the Terminix warriors will be on call for three years in case any varmint dares attempt to storm the bastions.

But wait. Am I really that bent out of shape about leaving town because of a little mouse or twelve? No. There’s more.

As I led Randy to the basement to scout for tiny revolving mouse doors flashing neon “welcome” signs, we encountered a leak of a different sort at the bottom of the stairs. It seems that my hot water heater has chosen NOW to begin leaking.

It’s not enough that I have to wash clothes and towels and bedding before I leave. It’s not enough that I would prefer to leave town freshly showered and shampooed. In the end, I don’t see how I can, in good conscience, walk away from a mouse-infested home with no hot water for my dog sitter and son to deal with while I’m sipping Bushnell’s and tapping my toes to a twinkly-eyed fiddler’s tune in a pub in Northern Ireland. I mean, it’s not like I won’t go, but . . . .

Darby

I’m pretty sure this is from an old movie called “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” which scared the crap out of me when I was a kid.

So now I’m not-so-patiently waiting for a contractor to call me back about the water heater.

Normally, in the final days before I’m due to travel, I worry about coming down with a cold (I AM a bit sniffly, now that I think of it) or getting a UTI (the ultimate annoying traveling companion) or breaking a tooth (I had to have a crown repaired hours before I left for the airport for a trip to Italy one year). I’m not a hypochondriac. I’m not even superstitious. But things do have a way of getting complicated before I leave town.

I just turned the calendar page to October and there’s a black cat featured in one of the fun, seasonal photos. Man. Let’s hope bad things do not come in three’s, okay? When I get to JFK Wednesday evening I’m definitely turning off my phone and hiding out for the next ten days or so. Slainte, y’all.

Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors”

I was privileged to see the traveling exhibition “Infinity Mirrors” by legendary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama at the Cleveland Museum of Art earlier this month. Usually my blog posts focus on my words, rather than photos, but this time it makes sense to allow some of the pictures I took to – mostly – speak for themselves.

This 50-year retrospective of her work opened at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, in 2017 and CMA is one of just five venues across the U.S. and Canada where Kusama’s remarkable exhibition can be seen. After it ends here on Sunday, the show will travel for its last stop at Atlanta’s High Museum from November 18 to February 17.

02 Kusama pumpkin AnOther Magazine

Photo of the artist with one of her signature, ethereal pumpkins – photo from AnOther Magazine

To give you just a tiny bit of background, Yayoi Kusama was born in 1929 in Japan and moved to the U.S. in 1958, just in time to become a part of the Andy Warhol, Pop Art culture in New York City. She was mentored by Georgia O’Keefe and became a fixture in the early 60’s hippie scene, creating political performance art, painting polka dots on nude models in public places like Central Park. Reportedly, she offered to sleep with Richard Nixon if he’d put an end to the Viet Nam war.

She was both inspired and emotionally troubled by growing up with an abusive mother and philandering father. Kusama committed herself to an asylum upon returning to Japan in 1977 and has been living there by choice ever since. Her studio is nearby, where she continues to create in a variety of media most days.

Following are photos I took when my buddy Ginny and I visited “Infinity Mirrors” a few weeks ago.

02 Narcissists garden wide

The silver balls are called “Narcissists Garden” and were on display in the atrium at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The box to the right was a tiny installation of infinity mirrors and lights. That art piece is owned by a Cleveland collector and sits in the back yard of their estate. Cleveland is the only place that it is on public display.

02 Narcissists close

I see myself taking photos in each shiny sphere, explaining the “garden’s” name.

02 infinity penises

I mentioned Kusama’s cheating father. Well, her mother used to send Yayoi to spy on him, causing trauma and a hatred for men and their sexual organs. Here we are in a very phallic mirrored room. Do the polka dots signify blood? I don’t know.

02 armchair

Kusama loaded up an easy chair with shoes and (mostly) distorted penises. A baby carriage had more of the same. That’s it for my phallic observations here. Very creepy.

02 dot bike

In one interactive exhibit, an all- white room was plastered with multicolored dots. We were given our own little sheet of dot stickers to add dots wherever we wanted to. You barely can see the bicycle and boot in this picture.

02 Ginny dots

Ginny strikes a pose in the dot room!

02 Kasuma bright sculptures

There were at least a dozen sculptures like these, and paintings,  photographs — just an explosion of shapes and colors throughout the exhibition.

02 Kasuma me pink

Me with an infinity of hot pink spheres with black polka dots. These seem joyous to me, but Kusama calls her dots “infinity nets” and uses them sometimes to all but obliterate the objects and people beneath.

02 peep hole

Visitors stand outside a large box and look in to see the lights change colors and multiply in the mirrors. You can see me holding up my camera to take the picture. Beautiful and mesmerizing.

Finally, I hope you’ll enjoy a small clip I filmed inside one of the boxes.

For each experience, no more than two or three people at a time could enter a box and museum staff timed the visit to be exactly 30 seconds. We were allowed to take photos inside all of the boxes except for the one with the pumpkins. Each pumpkin was so fragile, if someone turned and accidentally stepped on or bumped and damaged one, it couldn’t be easily replaced. A museum guard entered that space with each viewing.

I hope you enjoyed this little peek into the remarkable “Infinity Mirrors” retrospective of work by the amazing Yahoi Kusama.

 

 

 

Kavanaugh – party time predator?

Watching the story unfold about Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual attack on a young girl while he was in high school has been distressing, right? I’ll say up front that I believe his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. This is an intelligent, reputable woman who knew full well that she was putting herself and her family in jeopardy by stepping forward. She has nothing to gain but heartache, aggravation and yes, even fear by going public with the story of this assault.

But what I also believe is that there’s a good chance Kavanaugh doesn’t think he did it. He doesn’t remember because he was totally blotto. It was over quickly. He didn’t “score” (which he would NOT have forgotten). His buddy was likely egging him on, then jumped on him – who knows why; they were drunk – and the next thing you know, they’re stumbling down the stairs belching and listening to some jerk belt out the lyrics to “Roxanne.” Hey! Somebody change that lame music and where’s the keg?

Either he doesn’t remember, or he’s too cowardly to admit that he screwed up. If he does remember, he missed his opportunity to say he’s sorry, he was drunk and immature, and then to apologize as sincerely as he’d demand any idiot who tried to pull that with one of his daughters would be expected to do. Maybe he’d even have the guts to offer to step down, like Al Franken (whose questionable sense of humor wasn’t nearly as offensive as this shit show).

Regardless, chances are that Brett and his prep school buds preyed on girls at every weekend party. That weekend was likely just one of dozens – hundreds? – of weekends in his high school and college years where excessive drinking contributed to varying degrees of aggression toward young women.

I’m not saying it’s okay. I am saying it happens. Plenty. I can’t speak for how that age group interacts today, but I doubt it’s much different from when I was growing up. Kavanaugh’s crowd followed about ten years after mine, so I can picture the scenario pretty clearly. Again, it wasn’t right – but it wasn’t uncommon.

Here’s where I’m going with this essay. I’m going to blame this in part on . . .

Private school ain’t the real world

Brett Kavanaugh is the only child of very successful parents. Right off the bat, I have to wonder if he would have been quite as predatory if he had had sisters. Strike one.

Then, at the cusp of puberty, he was sent to an all-boys Catholic school. Strike two. His parents’ intent surely was to give their son the best education they could afford. Plus, parents who put their kids in same-sex schools generally believe that without the distraction of girls/boys, their child will find it easier to concentrate on studies and, hopefully, excel academically minus all the hormonal drama.

There’s some logic to that. Scholastically, same-sex education can offer an academic edge to many students. However. And this is a big “however.” When young people are segregated from the opposite sex during an activity (school) that demands most of their time and focus during their teenage years, they lose the opportunity to interact with both sexes in a relatively safe, non-threatening environment.

Your lab partner could be the football quarterback, or the quiet girl who also sits behind you in Spanish. In class, at lunch, in clubs, in sports, these young people become more than just “other.” A guy learns that the curvy girl he’d like to know better is an ace in geometry and has a wicked sense of humor. She’s more than boobs and butt and big brown eyes. Her name is Allison and she has a Golden Retriever that looks a lot like his.

But if they go to different schools, and are both smashed at a weekend party, guess what? She becomes boobs-butt-big brown eyes because he’s a teenager and that’s all he sees. It’s human nature. Not knowing who she is or having had practice interacting every day with girls like her, is a recipe for trouble. He’s been hearing guys openly bragging at his testosterone-soaked prep school and doesn’t know what’s fact and what’s fantasy. I don’t care what his IQ is; he’s young, dumb, immature, and horny. Alcohol adds fuel to a fire primed to burst into flame.

It goes back to the whole concept of “other” that everyone’s talking about today in regard to intolerance and fear of immigrants, LGBTQ folks, and people of color (stay with me here). Mankind has a nasty inclination to treat unfamiliar people as being a little less human than ourselves. Empathy is a muscle we need to develop and consciously employ when we find ourselves not quite able to relate to another person’s humanity.

And it can be hard. It takes a consciousness and willingness to make that effort to recognize that you’re viewing someone as “other,” then to stop and try to imagine that moment from another human being’s perspective.

Which brings me back to Brett Kavanaugh and “boys being boys” and the mess that most teenagers are, at least during some period of their adolescence. Empathy and maturity are a lot to expect from the average 17 year old kid – even when he’s sober.

But it’s not impossible.

Allowing young people to get to know each other growing up is every bit as important as focusing on classwork. We need to be educated AND know how to get along with others, right? Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt when we’re talking about teenagers; it’s more likely to breed comfort. Distractions become, well, less distracting when encountered on a daily basis.

I suspect that the many people who have come forward to say how great Brett Kavanaugh is could be mostly right. Being an asshole in high school or college does not mean someone can’t grow up and turn into a decent human being. Heaven help us if that weren’t the truth.

Don’t shoot me, but I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t think a very stupid and mean act committed at age 17 while he was drunk out of his gourd should be the reason why Kavanaugh loses this appointment.

Having said that, I do believe that Brett Kavanaugh should be denied a seat on the Supreme Court because of his disturbing statement to the effect that nothing should be done about gun control because so many people own guns. Huh? I also believe that he should not be on the Supreme Court because he thinks birth control is a form of abortion. Huh? This man has a wife and two daughters and needs to get a clue. I also think that Donald Trump is already a lame duck, and if that’s what stopped President Obama’s proposed nominee from being named to the Supreme Court, well, quid pro quo. Let’s vote in a Democratic Congress this fall and start Making America Sane Again.

There are any number of really good reasons why Brett Kavanaugh shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court. I think being an asshole at 17 may not be in the top ten.

Oh. And please consider the pros and cons before sending your kids to same-sex schools. People can get creepy there. Your tax dollars are dealing with it right now.

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

Today there was yet another mass shooting, this time at a Rite Aid distribution center in Maryland. Rite Aid was my client for nearly twenty years and my heart goes out to the family, friends, and coworkers of the victims.

We need judges open to new, fair legislation to restrict gun ownership in our dear country.  (Hey! How about outlawing BULLETS?) Brett Kavanaugh has made it clear that he’s not willing to consider gun control laws that may help curtail the senseless murder of innocent people in the US.

 

 

 

Why I’m not sad about sex

Do you have Facebook friends you’ve never met? I do. Mostly they’re friends of friends I’ve met through writing, specifically at Erma Bombeck Humor Writers workshops. Usually I read something funny, laugh and comment, connect, and there you go. I also have some “friends” who I honestly don’t remember at all. It may be time to weed out the list, I’m thinking.

If I were a better writer, or one trying to sell this essay, I would know better than to start out writing about something that seems irrelevant to the headline. You’re supposed to go in strong, not wimp along for several paragraphs until you get to the point. I’ll get there eventually, I promise. While many bloggers have moved on to other media, like Twitter and Instagram, I’m still here. I kind of think of it as exercising my writing muscles now and then. Or keyboard masturbation for the mind.

Anyway, one Erma acquaintance suggested I might have something in common with a friend of hers and due to the sensitive nature of this post, I’ll try to be vague enough that no one will figure out who I’m talking about.

So I “friended” the woman, who I’m going to guess is in her mid 50’s, had split from her husband, moved overseas, and is having what seems to be a pretty steamy romance with a lovely-looking man. Lovely-looking, as in, someone an oldster like myself would consider attractive.

It’s clear that they are having sex. Not that there’s anything salacious being posted, mind you. It’s all very tasteful and kind of sweet. They are positively beaming in the selfies she shares. Her friends (presumably women who, unlike me, actually know her) comment that they’re so happy for her and oo-la-la and “you deserve it,” etc.

I’ve become a kind of hanger-onner (I know that’s not a word – zip it) who was supposed to have something in common with this lady totally unrelated to her new middle-age-to-elderly sex and semi-geriatric love. I think I need to unfriend her because I’m beginning to feel like a voyeur. If she notices my name at all (I occasionally “like” a post – but not the ones about her dating life), she’s probably wondering how I ended up following her and why.

But here’s the thing – every once in a while, when I read or hear about someone in my generation starting a brand new love affair, I can’t help but wonder if that’s something I should consider, too. Should I admit that I’ve finally called it quits FOREVER? Do I care?

The fact is, for every December love affair I hear of, there are a few dozen long-married friends who say, who needs it? They haven’t had sex in nearly as long as my own lengthy period of circumstantial celibacy – and they have a partner sprawled next to them in the California King every night. They may humor their husbands a couple of times a year, but to hear them tell it, it’s with a yawn and the desire to get it over with and go to sleep or at least back to watching whatever movie’s on the Hallmark Channel.

Now, I am NOT writing this to instigate an informal online poll. Spare me if you and your husband are still “active” and think Viagra is the best thing since the creation of floppy discs. You go, girl. Yay. But there is no need to weigh in here for or against old people sex. Please.

I’m going to get very honest with you here and admit that I’ve been celibate for 26 years. I think some people may wonder if I’ve decided to play for the other team, but that’s not the case. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as the Seinfeld crew would say.

No, I decided to stop dating – to halt my quest for Mr. Right – to give up kissing frogs in the vain search for my prince – at age 41. At the time, it was not my intent to never date or have sex again. My son was about 15 and at an age where the mere thought of his mother being kissed (forget the rest of it) was alternately enraging, disgusting, and ultimately embarrassing. It seemed wise to go on hiatus. It’s hard enough raising a teenager without throwing that mess into the mix.

I certainly don’t miss being in a relationship (see previous post outing myself as an introvert). After living alone for so many years, I honestly can no more imagine someone living in my house – let alone hogging the covers on my bed – than me putting on a tutu and fright wig to launch a new career as a rodeo clown.

It’s not that I miss sex, especially. If you do without it long enough, the urge does pass. Maybe menopause played a big role in that, as well. And on the odd occasion, I can be the queen of my domain. I do miss Seinfeld.

Here’s one more thing  about my generation that doesn’t get much air play, but I’m going to say it anyway:  who wants to fuck an old person? I guess if that old person is someone you knew when he/she was young and pliable, perhaps the wrinkles, sagging, pouching, etc., comes on gradually enough that you don’t notice too much (especially in the dark). But taking off your clothes in front of some old guy who also is going to get nekkid with you and you’ve pretty much only just met? Man. That takes guts, IMO.

Me 1992

Me, circa 1992. Shoulder pads were great to show off my tiny waist. Yeah.

The plus side of giving up sex at a relatively young age is that the last man I slept with was gorgeous. Big, strong, handsome, old enough to know exactly what he was doing – and still able to do so for an extended period of time. He eventually broke my heart, but thank you, T, wherever you are. Nice job!

And why wouldn’t he do a good job? I looked like this!

So, good luck and best wishes to the Facebook lady with the white-haired honey. May he make your toes curl, even yet. But as I reflect on the fact that I am 99% certain I’ll never be in love or have sex again, at least I find comfort in knowing that my memories are pretty ones. And hot. Smooth-skinned, pretty, and hot indeed.

Amy Schumer and me

We could be twins. Yes. Amy’s hilarious. I’m sporadically funny. Amy is young and blonde and a tad chunky. I’m old, dyed-brown-over-gray, and morbidly obese. Amy is wildly successful, talented, and rich. I was as successful as I wanted to be, have some skills, and can afford now to retire, albeit modestly.

And we’re both unlikely introverts.

Just. The. Same.

Amy Schumer bookI’m on this little fantasy rant because I’m finally reading Amy’s book, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. My buddy Ginny is enjoying the audio version of this so much, she keeps calling me from her car laughing maniacally while quoting something Amy said (Amy comically narrates the book on tape, by the way). So, when the library let me know that the eBook was available to download, I jumped at it. When I finished reading an early chapter with Amy explaining how she’s an introvert, it stopped me dead in my tracks.

Twins, I’m telling you.

How have I never heard of the Irish Goodbye? Do you know what that is? I have no idea what makes it “Irish,” but apparently, it’s the ability to slip out of a party like a ninja without telling anyone you’re going – most likely because you’ve abruptly had enough of a lovely time with people and music and noise and sensory overload and you just need to get OUT. Later friends say, “Hey. When did you leave? Missed you during the Twister tournament!” I’ll probably respond with, “Yeah, I looked for you everywhere, but . . . .”

It’s not that I don’t love my friends, or people in general, for that matter. But I probably conjure up a last minute excuse not to go to more than half of the parties and functions I’ve planned to attend. And when I do turn up, I’m often the first to leave (and I prefer the Irish Goodbye if it’s a large event where I can get away with it). Suddenly, it’s like my sociability bag is full to the brim and I can’t participate in one more conversation.

And like my twin Amy, I was a kid who enjoyed playing with my friends, but who also cherished time alone in my room reading a book. I needed that solitary time after interacting with friends and family and schoolmates, even when I was very young.

This book brought back memories of elementary school recesses that I’d kind of dismissed over the years, but now I suddenly understand my behavior. I remember standing by myself over a heating vent, under the fire escape, on many winter days. For years I’ve wondered what kind of oddball thing that was for me to do. I wondered if I’d been ostracized and forgot why. I couldn’t remember any negative interactions leading to my lonely position. I realize now that it was a choice. It was a quiet retreat for a little girl who’d spent all day relating with my family at breakfast, then with the teacher and other kids in the classroom and cafeteria. Man, I just freaking needed a BREAK. I would have stayed inside by myself to regroup and read a book, but that wasn’t allowed. Getting fresh air, except on the rainiest days, was the rule. As an adult, I can’t say I blame the teachers, either. The poor things desperately needed a break themselves.

During recess I also recall an extremely limited choice of entertainment, particularly in the winter. It might be twenty degrees outside and we’d be bundled up like miniature Michelin Tire guys, but the girls (boys did not do this) often amused themselves performing a variation of Skin the Cat, where they’d hook one leg over a metal bar, push off hard with the other foot, and fly over, under, and back up to starting position, skimming the ground with the pom-pom crowning their knitted hats.

skin the cat

They say there’s more than one way to skin a cat. The little girls on the playground did this a little differently.

Back then, girls were not allowed to wear slacks to school (and jeans were not allowed for boys). Skinning the Cat in winter was one thing, since we all went shivering outside at recess wearing snow pants or maybe corduroy slacks under our skirts. In nice weather, sans slacks, girls whipping around the bar flashed their underpants if they didn’t tuck their dresses or petticoats in just right before taking off. But enough about Skinning the Cat. As I said, I wasn’t a fan, not only because I was vaguely afraid of bonking my head in the dirt or possibly not pushing off hard enough and ending up stuck, hanging upside down, but also because I didn’t want to flash my underpants (or chubbo legs) and maybe, just maybe, because I needed a little alone time under the fire escape.

So, here’s the thing about introverts. Like my sister Amy, you can be an introvert, yet get on a stage in front of hundreds of people and make them laugh about intimate details of your life told in a hilarious (and hopefully comedically exaggerated) fashion. When you’re up for it, you can talk and laugh and have a ball with your friends – and even strangers – as long as you know you can leave when your reserves are depleted.

HPIM0197

The life of the party with my parents on New Year’s Eve. I can suck it up and be fun, if pressed.

I’m completely content living alone with my dogs and I’m never, ever lonely. Never. That may seem foreign and odd to the People Who Love People (are you really the luckiest people in the world?). But it’s a tough week for me when I have activities of some sort lined up for every day. Today I have an appointment with my physical therapist for the neck pain I’m dealing with (caused by too much time at the computer or hunched over my iPad reading a book). After that I will go to the drive through at the bank to get some cash, and then I should stop at Pet Smart to pick up dog food. This is as much activity out in the world as I could wish for in one day.

Lunch is a good amount of time to be spent socializing. If I’m meeting you for lunch, I probably love you and can’t wait to spend time with you . . . but I’m also relieved to go home afterward (especially if I have a doggie bag and won’t have to make dinner that night). I don’t love you less because I have to go home and be quiet after we yakked and laughed our way through the meal. That’s just me being me.

And Amy Schumer does this! Amy Schumer is amazing and hilarious and successful. We love her, right?

And thanks to this chapter in her very funny book, I kind of love myself a little bit more, too.

Thanks, Amy. If you’re reading this (ha!), please know that I love you and I promise never to approach you if I see you in public.