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Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

Eternal Optimist So Far

Anyone who knows me knows that I am eternal optimist. I literally cannot stop seeing the bright side. Having not yet lived an eternity, I can’t claim the “eternal” part yet, but I’ve got the “optimist” part down pat.

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But the downside to my upside is that being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the face of tragedies large and small annoys the hell out of some folks. Okay, lots of folks. When they’re sad and hopeless and angry, they want me to go there too. I do, but for me it’s a quick trip. I go for a quart of almond milk, while most people go for a month’s worth of groceries. I’m in and out while they’re still reading the ingredients list on sadness.

I just got back from walking my puppy after a 5-day stint of freezing temps during which he only got shortened jaunts outside. He wriggled with joy as he trotted down the street, unencumbered by a heavy jacket. A pair of neighbors remarked, “If only we could all be that happy.” I didn’t want to bum them out by telling them that I mostly am. For now, it will be my dark little secret in the ‘hood.

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Many people believe that I’m putting on a show or just sucking it up to help others in their quests to crawl out from under the covers, especially in the dark political period we’ve just entered. I call it “Trumpocene: The era of the second extinction of dinosaurs.” See, what I did there? I told a joke. I’m sure therapists everywhere are shaking their heads and thinking, “She’s hiding her real feelings.” Well, dammit, my real feelings are that despite it being awful out there, we need to laugh more than ever and I still see lots of good stuff all around me. For example, there are cookies in my pantry. How can that not make me happy?

Believe me, I try to keep my exuberance to myself, especially when my close friends are feeling down. I don’t toss optimistic cliches at them as I listen to their problems because I know those don’t usually help. So I’ll bite my irrepressibly joyful tongue and wait until most of the dark skies have cleared for them before I let forth with a torrent of happy thoughts.

Trying to be un-effervescent for my friends when they are blue is tough work and it makes me hungry.

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I remember an old bumper sticker that read, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” I believe many people have this feeling about those of us who are silver lining types. They think we’re shallow or unaware. This is usually not the case. In fact, it’s  my hyper-awareness of what’s going on in the world around me (I’m a vegan – we’re aware of ALL the pain all the time) that makes my optimism kick in double-time. Any time I see something crying out for mercy and attention, I first deliver mercy and attention and then bounce right back into, “Hey, you know what’s good about life today?” mode.

It’s  true that we can only be who we are. You don’t hide your dark goth self and I won’t hide my pigtails and freckles. The fact is, I will probably be whistling “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” at my own funeral.

 

 

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I Won’t Drink to That

I’ve never understood drinking to get drunk. There, I said it. Think I’m lame if you must, but I prefer not to have to find a stranger at 3 in the morning to find my shoes or hold my hair back.

Perhaps growing up in a dry county in Texas explains part of my perspective. For those of you who don’t know, “dry” doesn’t mean the humidity was exceptionally low (although in Abilene, Texas, it is); it means you can’t drink alcohol in public. unless you’re rich and belong to a private club (but then again, if you’re rich, the rules never apply to you, right?) Of course, in Abilene, you also couldn’t swim with the opposite gender (whatever that is), dance in public, or curse near a church and spending four years there hasn’t stopped me from doing all those things.

There were plenty of kids in high school who stole liquor from their parents’ personal stashes, but all we had at home was gallon bottles of wine so cheap even winos would scoff at them. My then-stepmother liked to get up early in the morning, put on some Tammy Wynette music, and begin drowning and smoking away her sorrows. In my mind, I associate alcohol with bad country music and soggy shag carpet (stepmother spilled a lot).

Flash forward 40 years and I’m still not that much of a drinker. I made it 23 years in the Lone Star state without developing a taste for beer, which is one of the reasons I had to leave. There’s a time limit on how long beer-haters are allowed to stay. I also didn’t develop a taste for voting Republican, so my departure was good all the way around.

I’ve spent 25 years as a comedian and comedy producer. That means I’ve probably been in more bars than most alcoholics. I usually order a seltzer water with a lime, so it looks like something exotic (yes, to me a lime on the rim makes a drink exotic.) If I can talk the bartender into a little umbrella for no extra money, I will.

As you might imagine, a lot of my comedy friends are recovering alcoholics and every few months one of them celebrates their sobriety birthday and we celebrate by not drinking together.

I want an extra birthday too. One in which I celebrate decades of making good choices without having had to hit bottom. (Well, my last marriage counts as hitting bottom, but not in an alcohol-related way… at least not for me…) Where’s the celebration for those of us who commit every year to not getting inebriated at children’s birthday parties or running up on stage when someone else is performing and showing off our bra? Don’t we deserve a party too?

So I’ve declared October 8 to be my second birthday. That’s the date of my last divorce. If you want to celebrate with me, it’s BYOSW (bring your own seltzer water). I’ll supply the lime slices and if you’re lucky, little umbrellas.

 

 

What Men Need to Know about Menopause

If you’re a man reading this article, you’re either living with a menopausal woman or you hoping I’ll talk about sex. I will, but not in a way that will make you happy. Or hot. Know that going in.

Menopause isn’t pretty. I know. I’ve got the sweaty sheets and haggard, sleepless look to prove it. But it gets even uglier when men of the guy variety step in and try to fix it. For the love of all that is holy, if you don’t want to open the gates of hell, please heed my advice. You and the mood-swinging woman closest to you will be better off for it.

  • Look in the mirror. Do you have hair in your ears? Gray ones on your chest or among the pubes? Would you like her to bring that up at parties? Okay, than stop talking about her moustache. At least she keeps it trimmed.
  • Yes, you’ve been hot before. In fact, science tells us that there is only one temperature that doesn’t make most men sweat and most women run screaming for a sweater or a blanket with arms in it – 68 degrees. But you have never been “hotflash-hot” unless someone has set your testicles on fire and shoved them you-know-where. So when she says she’s burning up, do NOT respond with, “Now you know how I’ve felt for the past 27 years.”
  • After she flashes, she will be freezing. If you share a bed, you’d be better off using a sleeping bag on top of the fitted sheet so that you can rest comfortably while she throws off and then shivers beneath the covers. Although if you’re resting comfortably while she’s miserable, that may be a topic of conversation over coffee in the morning.
  • Unless you are a superhero who can transform into a giant popsicle and inject yourself into her chest for the 45 seconds-1 minute her hot flash lasts, you are worthless when it comes to offering workable solutions. So keep your suggestions to “Just open a damn window” or “Why don’t you take off your bra?” to yourself.
  • Speaking of sex, if you’re getting any, you’re lucky. She’s hot, she’s cold, she’s thought about hitting you in the head with a 2 x 4 and hasn’t done it. Yet. And she’s dry. Down there. We’re not talking the kind of dry that cheap flavored lube from the porn store will fix either. And there is not enough WD-40 to handle this job. The good news is that menopause may be the one time where quickies are actually the preferred form of sexual activity. So keep your mouth shut (a ball gag can help) and be grateful.
  • If intercourse is off the table (and the bed, the floor, the cat tower, etc.) and she offers up a BJ (which may be rare because when the estrogen goes, so does a lot of her caring about your needs), you’d better reciprocate with whatever she wants, even if it’s a two-week vacation to Antarctica with only her girlfriends. She’s got what’s left of your manhood in her mouth and she could swing from horny to homicidal in 2 seconds flat.
  • If you’re in the middle of an argument about anything from politics to pistachios, do NOT jokingly ask her if her bad mood might be hormone-related. Remember how well it worked when you tried to blame things on PMS? This will not go any better.
  • While “menopause” is defined as the day on which she hasn’t had a period for a year, the symptoms can show up as early as mid-40s during “perio-menopause” (Greek for “Well, aren’t I damned lucky?”) and last well into “post-menopause.” There are women who never stop hot-flashing and mood-swinging. Your 87-year-old aunt with the shotgun by the front door? Now you know why she’s always angry.
  • Be prepared for weeping. Not regular crying at things that are sad, but loud wailing and gushing tears that seem to spring up from an internal sprinkler system at the stupidest things. Cat food commercials, text messages from the dentist, Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy”… all of these can start the waterworks. Even if she didn’t want any more children or never wanted any, the idea that she can’t have them now, combined with hormones stampeding through her brain and body, makes her really sad. If you want to empathize, imagine knowing that you could never have another erection. There you go. That’s what empathy is like. Use that a lot.

Well, I hope these tips help save your relationship and your man parts during the next 5 to 50 years of your life. I’d write more, but I’m so damned hot right now!

 

In Lieu of a Slap to the Head

I’m thinking of printing out cards that read, “You really deserve a slap to the head, but because society frowns on that, I give you this card instead.” A little poetry in lieu of poetic justice.

I’ll call these my STH (slap to head) cards.

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I needed these yesterday when I was at a local grocery store that carries an equal mix of organic and conventional foods, and a woman asked me if I knew where the “other” grapes were as I looked at the organic ones. She then proudly said, “I don’t buy organic.” I replied, “But those are covered with poison,” to which she responded, “I have to die of something.” In my head, I continued with, “But what about the bees? And the other critters who drink the water full of toxins?! And the people downstream? And Casar Chavez?”

A telepathic environmental activist is what I am. Because saying this stuff out loud could lead to harder drugs, such as  keying people’s Humvees or tossing Chinese throwing stars in their general direction as they serpentine across the parking lot.

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Also deserving of one my STH cards is anyone who says, “I don’t follow politics.” This is especially true if their response is to a statement such as, “We really need to do something to change the impact of humans on the earth” or “I sure hope no one takes away Social Security because I don’t know how I’ll survive on pension plan of a snarky wordsmith.”

Do they feel that being aware of issues beyond what type of lip gloss Iggy Azalea uses or whether the latest superhero movie holds up to the comic book requires too much effort? As if to “follow politics” they might actually have to physically follow the issues around, hopping a cab here, a Greyhound bus there, never knowing whether they’ll end up in Vegas or Muleshoe, Texas.

For them, my STH cards would be a substitute for my standing on a cruelty free, vegan, free-range soap box and yelling, “You don’t have to follow anything (except the 4000 people you stalk on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) to take an interest in the world at large. It’s a fascinating place out here. You should come take a look sometime. There are real goats and llamas too!”

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Carly Fiorina, most of the female staff at Fox News, and any other woman who speaks out against equal pay for women, unfettered reproductive health care, or maternity leave should get an entire deck of cards. Come on, you’re packing a penis, right?

STH cards would help prevent me from hurling boxes of tampons at these women, yelling “Traitors!” and insisting they sit through the movie Beaches until their estrogen surged back to normal levels.

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I clearly need to design these cards fast or take my chances of showing up in a real life Orange is the New Black situation.

Invading My Space

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I’ll admit that I’m lousy at setting boundaries. Words come out of my mouth that in my mind make my desires or lack thereof clear, but what other people seem to hear is, “What you need to do is wheedle, and manipulate, and pressure me into changing my mind.”

And by other people, I mean mostly male people.

Wish-washy boundaries are why I ended up married to my last ex-husband, a man who proposed to me while he was in the bathtub! He could leave a ring around the tub, but I couldn’t draw a line in the sand. How sad is that?

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My girlfriends all seem to understand that when I say something like , “I can’t be out after dark these days because my 16-year-old dog with Sundowner’s Syndrome gets freaked out and might have a seizure,” what I mean is “I don’t want to be out after dark because my dog is my family.”

Guys seem to hear, “I’d really like to come over and make you a sandwich, day or night.”

Case in point: I met a guy at a book signing event recently. We talked about writing and he asked me if I’d like to have coffee sometime. I assumed (wrongly, I now know) that he wanted to talk about writing with me, a writer–someone who could perhaps give him advice. I have these kinds of “meetings” all the time and am happy to share anything I know and learn new things. Hell, when you’re a writer, you’re always in search of new stories and stealing them from strangers is a great way to “do research.”

When this guy, let’s call him Kyle, sat down for our “meeting,” he immediately started talking about his ex-wife and then caught himself by saying, “Oh, I’m not supposed to talk about my ex, right?” Red flag, right? Still I managed to convince myself that he was just telling a funny story to break the ice and that soon we’d be chatting about how he’d like to write a screenplay about his ex and wondered whether I had any advice about doing that without a lawsuit or bonfire on the front lawn.

bad-dateBut no… He told me about his kids. Then asked if I had any. It was then I finally wised up. He. Thought. This. Was. A. Date.

I mentioned that I was working on a novel. Talked about writing jokes for the internet. Looked at my watch several times in a very obvious fashion. “Hey, Kyle, see, I’m looking at my watch. That’s a sign that I’m ready for this to be over.” I thought I was drawing a line. All he saw were flirtatious doodles.

Throughout our conversation, Kyle made it clear, he considered this to be the first of many “coffees and lunches.” I said I was really busy, that my schedule was unpredictable, that I could turn into a werewolf at any moment and should flee if he valued his life.

werewolf_woman___second_date_by_jrunsteen-d861rxsHe nodded and smiled and asked me why I hadn’t asked him any questions about his personal life. Because, Kyle, I’d rather have a Brazilian wax than give you any reason to think this might be a date.

I should mention, he was extremely loud. The woman at the table behind ours kept trying to move farther away. I wanted to get up and offer her my napkin to stuff in her ears.

Nothing phased him. Not my looking around the room at other customers and servers. Not my determining who owed what on the bill and paying my half as soon as the check came. Not my swift kick to the crotchal area. Okay, that last thing was just in my imagination.

I said goodbye to him at the door of the restaurant and he followed me to my car. I threw out eight or nine clear “I have to go” statements, to which he said we “had to get together again so I could help raise his consciousness.”

I’m sorry, is that my job now? I don’t know him from Adam and not only does he expect me to go out with him again, I have an assignment! Oh lucky me.

Fortunately, I have a friend who is good with setting boundaries — at least for other people. She helped me compose an e-mail and took out all the words that could possibly be misinterpreted. She said I should practice ways to say no for the next time this happens. I told her the last time someone asked me to coffee, I had practically screamed, “What do you want from me?” at him and was trying to be a little kinder.

But I’ve taken her advice and have been making a list of phrases I can use that might keep people from pushing past my boundaries:

o  I’d love to be caught in midnight fire at sea. (This is a Dorothy Parker quote, but might be too literate for many of the guys who come my way).

o  I ‘m sorry, but this vaginal dryness is really distracting. What did you say again?

o  Maybe later, but I’m performing a bris this afternoon. (I’d save this for the Jewish guys).

o  Republican leaders say the sexual orientation is a choice, so right now in this very moment, I’m choosing to be a lesbian.

o  My coven is going on a retreat for the next six months.

A 'coven of witches' line up for a Halloween portrait dressed in festive witch's hats and improvised costumes, ca.1910, United States. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

A ‘coven of witches’ line up for a Halloween portrait dressed in festive witch’s hats and improvised costumes, ca.1910, United States. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

o  I don’t date outside my species.

I’m hoping these help me out in the future. Feel free to use them if you need them.

Free at Last!

My most recent ex-husband called me last Saturday. Oh yay…

We’ve been divorced for 6 years, 7 months, 1 hour and 3 minutes (not that I’m counting) and for four of those years, he called me at least once a week. Several times from my driveway.

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So when he phoned last summer to tell me he was moving 150 miles away, I was happier than Dakota Johnson when they finally wrapped up filming on 50 Shades of Grey and she could go back to living a life without handcuffs and safe words. Not to mention eating solid food again.

Now, don’t get me wrong, my ex isn’t a crazy stalker. It was just the oxycodone, anger issues, and gun ownership that made him SEEM crazy and inability to recognize a boundary even if I drew it in red Magic Marker on his palm that made him SEEM like a stalker. So yes, absence does make the heart grow fonder — of the single life.

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He called to tell me that he was going in for surgery on a blocked artery and that he had removed me as his emergency contact person. The latter represents amazing growth on his part. He’s finally acknowledging that I am not going to cross often-snowy mountains in my Toyota Camry to hold his hand while he has a splinter removed from his knuckles or a balloon inflated in his neck. I’m not being mean here. In our less than 5-year marriage, I went with him to more than 150 doctors’ appointments. He’s a gun-toting, angry, pain med-addicted guy with hypochondria and weird sexual peccadilloes (isn’t that a great word?) — is it any wonder I fell for him? (Literally, as on our first real date, he rolled his Jeep with me in it down a mountain). I clearly needed a project. Perhaps I should have taken up clog dancing instead.

I’m not sure how people stay friends with their exes, especially if at one point in their lives they worried that their ex might shoot them. “I’m sorry you’re having health problems, but the idea that a little exertion might kill you is kind of a relief.” That’s probably not an appropriate thing to say, but how would I know? Clearly my penchant for niceness has gotten me into situations a smarter woman would have avoided by simply walking away from the overturned vehicle in the mountains.

The good news is, I don’t have to show up when he’s sick. The bad news is that I’m still his power of attorney, so I have to be there when he dies. I guess I’m okay with that.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to get his new phone number tattooed on my forearm, so I never accidentally pick up the phone when he calls again.

I’m a Person, Not a Smudge

            Why are there so many creams for women over “a certain age” that have the word “blur” in them? There’s Miracle Blur, Opti-Blur, Magic Blur, 5-Second Blur, Victoria’s Secret Blur Bra for Boobs Over 50 (okay, I made that last one up, but it’s probably on the drawing board).

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            I don’t want to be a blur. I want to be high definition clear. That’s right, crows’ feet, soft jawline, broadening midsection, dangly boobies and all—I want those in sharp focus. I earned them and I want you to see them, dammit! It’s important that when you look at me, you see a 58-year-old woman who has clearly laughed often and well, not a grumpy cat or a Rubik’s Cube.

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            Notice there are no products for men that suggest they become a blur. Their creams firm, lift, harden and other words filled with sexual innuendo. (By the way, do NOT Google euphemisms for erections. Trust me on this!) No, the guys are told that each line and gray hair makes them more distinguished. Sounds like a problem with semantics to me. I think my master’s degree and 21 years as a comedy writer and performer makes me look distinguished. But what do I know? I don’t write ad copy.

I’m surprised the fashion industry hasn’t gotten in on the blurring trend for older women. Imagine the money to be made in selling camo wear to make sure we blend in with our surroundings: sweater sets with Bingo cards on them, velour track suits to match the walls for mall walks, and jeans and t-shirts the color of lumber for those days spent volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. Everyone knows once you reach a certain age, those are the things you spend all your days doing, right?

Or what about a new store called Forever 61 in which every item of clothing, every shoe and sock, every accessory was gray and fuzzy… a literal blur? That way younger people could quickly scan a crowd and avoid seeing anyone OLD and LAME. Unless, of course, they were looking for their grandparents in an attempt to make sure they’re still in the will.

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            All this is moot however, because most people today never look up from their electronic devices. We could all be naked and no one would even notice. Given the choice between naked or blurry, I opt for naked. It’s way more fun!