Tuesday, October 5, 2010


As I am writing this, I am one day away from picking up Colleen, my pen pal of 35 years, at the airport in Manchester.

I have spent the past two weeks trying to make everything perfect for her visit – mainly the house, my husband and myself. It’s definitely been an uphill battle.

First of all, the dogs are shedding enough fur to stuff a mattress. I have swept and vacuumed so many times, I’m surprised there’s still a pattern left on the flooring. And the minute I get all of the fur picked up, the dogs start wrestling and sending clumps of fur flying everywhere again.

And their wrestling isn’t confined to just the house. It continues out in the sandpit known as the back yard. The other day, when I called the dogs inside, they were covered in so much mud I couldn’t see anything but their eyeballs. Naturally, there was a drought all summer, but the minute Mother Nature found out that Colleen was coming, the skies opened up and turned the yard into a mud-wrestling arena.

But the house is a lot easier to make presentable than my husband is. While I was out shopping the other day, I bought him some new slippers. I thought they were pretty spiffy looking – navy blue with a red New England Patriots logo on them. They also had memory foam insoles for added comfort. When I got home and handed them to him, he couldn’t have looked more repulsed if they had been woven from poison-ivy leaves.

“Why’d you buy me slippers?” he asked. “The ones I have are perfectly fine…and really comfortable.”

I glared at the suede and sheepskin slippers on his feet. Not only did they have so many rips and tears on them, they looked as if they’d been attacked by sharks, the side of one slipper was so caved in, he was walking with his foot hanging completely out of it.

“You will wear your new Patriots slippers while Colleen is here,” I told him. “And you’ll also wear your new shorts, not the ones you’re wearing right now that look as if you took them for a dip in battery acid!”

He frowned, clearly not pleased. “You mean I can’t even be comfortable while she’s here?”

“Not if ‘comfortable’ means you’re going to walk around looking as if you found all of your clothes in the Allenstown landfill!”

“Well,” he said smiling smugly, “Then I guess that means you’re going to have to sit around wearing your bra all the time!”

My eyes widened. He had a point. The first thing I usually do when I get home from somewhere is get comfortable by taking off my bra, which feels like an ancient torture device, and putting on a baggy sweatshirt. Somehow I couldn’t picture myself sitting around braless in front of Colleen, especially since the words “firm” and “perky” haven’t been in my vocabulary for about 30 years.

For the past few weeks I’ve actually been trying to improve my appearance for Colleen’s visit. I managed to drop a couple pounds and I also used a semi-permanent light-brown hair coloring in my hair.

My hair came out a dark brunette…and frizzy. All I could think of when I looked in the mirror afterwards was a cavewoman. If I were wearing an outfit made of animal pelts and carrying a club, my hair would have looked perfect. The hair-coloring box, however, said the stuff would wash out in about 20 shampoos. Last night I washed my hair 15 times. It’s still dark…and even frizzier.

Then the crown on my front tooth came loose. My dentist said that even though it’s loose, it’s still attached to the tooth, so he doesn’t want to tempt fate and try to remove the crown, which might break off the tooth. He said I should wait until the crown falls off on its own and dies a natural death.

“But what if it falls off and I lose it?” I asked. “Or even worse, what if I swallow it?”

“Then hopefully we’ll be able to make you another one,” he said.

When I talk, the crown flaps in the breeze, it’s so loose. I have visions of myself greeting Colleen with a hug and having my crown fall off down the back of her neck.

And then there are the tomatoes. I love fresh, native tomatoes, and wait impatiently for tomato season each year. Then I go wild eating as many as I can before the season ends. The only problem is the acidity in tomatoes usually causes me to break out.

The other day I ate two tomato sandwiches and enjoyed every bite of them. Two days afterwards, a zit the size of Mount St. Helens popped out on my cheek. I’ve tried every homegrown remedy to get rid of it – applying toothpaste, baking-soda paste, steam, ice packs – but nothing has worked. In fact, the zit is getting bigger. Pretty soon it will need its own zip code.

I received an e-mail from Colleen last night, asking me how she will recognize me at the airport, seeing this will be the first time we meet.

That’s easy. I’ll be the cavewoman with the jack-o-lantern smile and a zit that makes me look as if I’ve grown a second head.