Monday, January 23, 2017


I happened to catch a rerun of a reality show called “10 Years Younger,” on TV a few weeks ago. On the show, a lucky contestant, usually a woman, was put into a soundproof glass box out on a busy downtown sidewalk. The show’s host then asked passersby how old they thought the woman in the box was.

“Twenty-five!” the first person said.

“The woman in the box can’t hear you,” the host pointed out. “It’s completely soundproof.”

“Oh, she can’t? Well, then, she looks about 60! Talk about sun-damaged skin! She looks like an armadillo!”

The show then proceeded to spend a week transforming old Armadillo Face into someone so ravishing, the next time she went back into the box for public scrutiny, people guessed she was in junior high.

One of the tools they used to magically transform the woman on the show into a smooth-skinned beauty was some relatively new procedure called Thermage.  According to them, Thermage is like a facelift, but without any cutting, bruising or stitching. It uses radiofrequency to lift and tighten skin, renew facial contours and produce new collagen. Just one treatment continues to keep working for about six months, and then the final results are supposed to last for two to three years.

From the moment I saw that woman on “10 Years Younger” emerge from her Thermage treatment looking as if she’d just taken a swan dive into the Fountain of Youth, I thought, “Quick, Sally!  Run, don’t walk, to the nearest place that does this Thermage thing and throw yourself at their mercy!”

That’s because every time I look into a mirror lately, I see another part of my face sagging. Not only have I officially entered the jowl generation, people keep telling me I look “drawn” (which basically translates into “exceptionally jowly”). Whenever I shake my head, my face keeps on flapping long after I stop.

So immediately after watching that TV show, I searched the Internet to find out who, if anyone, in New Hampshire performed Thermage. I found only one doctor. I hurried to dial his number before another jowl popped out.

The woman who answered the phone couldn’t have been nicer. She raved about the procedure and its results, then asked if I wanted to schedule a consultation with the doctor. I made an appointment for the next week. She recommended that in the meantime, I check out the doctor’s website for further, more detailed information and directions to the clinic.

I hung up the phone and smiled a satisfied smile. I was on my way to being transformed from an old prune into a teenager!  I could hardly wait. That is, until I checked out the doctor’s website and read, “Thermage treatments begin at $2,500 for a small area.”

My mouth fell open. Na├»ve person that I was, I’d expected the treatment to cost a couple hundred dollars. And what did they consider a “small” area? An eyebrow? A dimple? Half a frown line?

I recalled how, back in high-school, when we were being measured for our graduation caps, a teacher told me my head was one of the largest she'd measured. So, I deduced, that probably meant I also had a big face, which would take a lot of Thermage treatments to cover...and end up costing me about $150,000.

I canceled my consultation.

But then, I started thinking that even if I did get my face looking less crinkly, it really wouldn’t have much of an impact anyway, because then my saggy old body wouldn’t match it. That’s because I’ve spent so many years yo-yo dieting and causing my skin to expand and contract, it now kind of looks like a balloon…after it drifted into a thorn bush.

Not long ago, however, I did find something called a body shaper that helped to hold everything in and even lifted my butt up from its current location somewhere down behind my kneecaps.  And best of all, it cost me only about $10.

When I first took the body shaper out of the package, it resembled a pair of those tight bicycle pants – in a toddler’s size. I really had my doubts about squeezing into the thing without causing serious damage to several of my vital organs. I figured it was going to be about as easy as stuffing a watermelon into a garden hose.

Just as I suspected, getting into the body shaper proved to be a challenge. I yanked, tugged, danced, jumped up and down and grunted, all the while expecting to hear “Rrrriipppp!” at any second. But to my surprise, I finally managed to squeeze into it – and with all of the seams still intact.  I thought for sure I’d never be able to take a deep breath again without suffering from lightheadedness, but the body shaper actually was pretty comfortable once I got used to it.

And when I put on my jeans and saw my reflection in the mirror, I was excited to see what looked like a more youthful figure. I vowed never to remove the body shaper again – except to take a shower.

Now all I have to do is find one for my face.

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Monday, January 16, 2017


Every time I have a dental appointment and I’m lying there in the chair, watching the dental assistant handing the different tools to the dentist, mixing up filling material, and then using all sorts of gadgets and gizmos to make the fillings set, I can’t help but think back to the Dark Ages, when I had a very short career as a dental assistant.  

I’m still not certain how I even got the job, considering that when I went for the interview, half of the other interviewees were wearing medical smocks, which told me they probably already were working as assistants elsewehere, but wanted to work in a newer, more modern office. I, on the other hand, didn’t even know a bicuspid from a molar.

During the interview, when I divulged my total lack of knowledge to the dentist, he didn’t seem fazed. He assured me I would be provided with plenty of on-the-job training.  

The next thing I knew, there I was, training for the job. But as it turned out, the girl I was hired to replace had to leave the position even sooner than expected, so the poor dentist ended up stuck with only me…half-trained. 

Fortunately, back then, there really wasn’t all that much for me to learn about dentistry because it still was fairly basic. There were white fillings for the front teeth and silver fillings for the back teeth…and a lot of tooth yanking because root canals weren’t yet very popular. In fact, I remember once asking the dentist exactly what a root canal was and his description made it sound as if the procedure should have been performed by the Marquis de Sade in a torture chamber with the patient strapped down to a table.

So not surprisingly, most people opted for extractions.

The first time I assisted with an extraction and actually saw blood, I felt so woozy, I had to grip the arm of the dental chair for support. And when the dentist victoriously held up the disembodied tooth, I’m pretty sure my expression resembled the one I’d had the first time I watched the shower scene in the movie, “Psycho.”

“Suction!” the dentist ordered as I just stood there, the room spinning around me. “Suction!”

Even if the patient’s mouth had been stuffed with $100 bills, there was no way I was going to insert my bare hand (gloves weren’t worn back then) into his yucky, bloody mouth to suction it. Frustrated, the dentist finally grabbed the suction device out of my hand and did the suctioning himself.

When he took out the needle and suturing material so he could stitch up the hole where the tooth had been, that did it. I made a mad dash for the restroom.

To this day, I still feel terrible whenever I think of all the poor, innocent dental patients who suffered because of me.

“Spray the topical anesthesia on tooth number 14,” the dentist would call out to me as he darted between rooms. “Then I’ll pop in and administer the Novocain.”

I would dig out the chart that showed a picture of each tooth and its corresponding number and then I would go spray the patient’s tooth. The only problem was that I usually ended up spraying the wrong side because when I looked at the chart, my right was the patient’s left, and vice versa, and it always confused me.

So because of me, a lot of patients ended up feeling every jab of the Novocain injection. To this day, there probably still are voodoo dolls with my name on them, lying around former patients’ houses. Still, I figure that if the patients were too timid to speak up and tell me I was spraying the wrong tooth, then they were partly responsible for their own agony.

And the impressions that I poured to make molds for dentures always had so many air holes in them, the poor people probably ended up with false teeth that looked like topographical maps of the moon’s craters.

I say “probably” because I didn’t stick around long enough to find out.

Following the dental assistant’s job, which lasted barely three months, I landed such jobs as a grade-school teaching assistant, a contact lens technician, a switchboard operator at a satellite tracking station, a counselor at a weight-loss clinic, a wedding photographer and a newspaper correspondent.

I also became the manager of a local gift shop, even though I’d never managed much of anything beforehand. In fact, just “managing” to get out of bed and off to work on time every morning was a big challenge for me. And there I was, a woman who was so terrible at math, I couldn’t even balance my own checkbook, trying to keep track of the shop’s daily receipts. When I ran out of fingers to count on, I had to take off my shoes and stockings and use my toes.

When the gift shop went out of business (I swear the whole bankruptcy thing wasn’t my fault), I decided to take my time searching for another job because I wanted to be certain I’d find something exciting, challenging and stimulating. It took about five years, but I finally found a job that I felt suited me perfectly…I became a mystery shopper. In other words, I got paid to go shopping.

That’s about the only job I already knew how to do well…very well.

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Monday, January 9, 2017



Once upon a time, Xavier Roberts, a guy who barely was in his 20s, decided to take some cloth, cotton stuffing and a needle and thread and create some funny-looking round-headed dolls with beady little eyes. He called them “Little People” and sold them at craft shows.

By the early 1980s, his Little People were so popular, they not only were being mass marketed, they were given an even catchier name…Cabbage Patch Kids.

Cabbage Patch Kids became such a hot commodity, wrestling matches ensued in stores where they were sold. One woman reportedly had her hair ripped out by the roots when she tried to grab the last doll on the shelf. Another woman was trampled by a stampede of desperate doll-buyers, and to this day, her body still bears the deep puncture-wound scars from their high-heeled shoes.

I have been a doll collector ever since I was old enough to say “Betsy Wetsy,” but for some reason, the Cabbage Patch Kids never really appealed to me. I guess it was because they reminded me of Charlie Brown from the Peanuts comics…if he took steroids.

Well, in 1985, Topps Chewing Gum Company, long famous for producing packs of baseball cards with squares of petrified pink gum inside, came up with a unique way to capitalize on the Cabbage Patch craze and put an end to an era of “terminal cuteness.”

Enter the Garbage Pail Kids.

Garbage Pail Kids were characters that looked remarkably like Cabbage Patch Kids, with one exception…they could not be described as cute or cuddly, not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, Garbage Pail Kids were downright gross and disgusting. Topps put these disgusting characters on trading-card stickers and sold them five to a pack for 25 cents.

Unfortunately, my husband was the first one in line to buy them.

As he sat at the kitchen table and opened each pack of cards one evening, I took my first look at Garbage Pail Kids. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They
featured characters like Corroded Carl, who looked exactly like a Cabbage Patch Kid covered with oozing boils. And there was Jay Decay with his flesh rotting off his bones, who was pictured crawling up out of a grave. Guillotina was shown having her head chopped off.

“These are SO cool!” my husband said. “I have to collect the entire set of 88 cards!”

So there he stood in line at the store, a grown man surrounded a bunch of little kids who also wanted to buy Garbage Pail Kids cards.

He soon became as obsessed with the cards as the hair-yanking women in toy stores had been about the original dolls. In fact, he stopped buying the single 25-cent packs of cards and began buying them by the box, with 36 packs in each.

And Topps, despite a lawsuit from the Cabbage Patch Kids people and a growing number of stores boycotting the cards because they were deemed too disgusting to sell to impressionable young children, continued to crank out new cards for the next three years. This meant there were 1,310 different Garbage Pail Kids cards to collect.

And my husband was determined to collect every one of them.

Our house soon became filled with the likes of Luke Puke, Arlene Latrine, Haley’s Vomit, Russ Pus, Varicose Wayne and Fritzie Zits. There were boxes of the cards stuffed in closets, underneath the beds and out in the shed. There were notebooks filled with plastic pages that held sets of the cards, along with the wrappers from the packages. My husband even built a tower out of the 3,000 pieces of petrified pink bubble-gum that had come with the cards.

When he came home with yet another box of cards one day, I finally drew the line. “If you buy one more Garbage Pail Kids card,” I told him, “you and Snotty Lottie, Oozy Suzy and Bloodshot Scott can go sleep out in your car!”

Alas, after a lot of mumbling and grumbling, he finally stopped buying the cards and started spending his money on more productive things…like groceries.

So over 30 years ago, my husband’s huge collection of Garbage Pail Kids cards, boxes and wrappers was packed away somewhere in the dark catacombs of the basement, and the likes of Vile Kyle and Disgustin’ Justin were long forgotten.

That changed a few weeks ago, however, when I was standing in the checkout line in a department store and happened to spot “All New!” packages of Garbage Pail Kids on a rack near the registers. Had I seen a live tarantula sitting on that rack, it couldn’t have filled me with more fear or revulsion (well, maybe a little more).

I rushed home and looked up Garbage Pail Kids on the Internet to find out what was going on. Sure enough, they were back. But then I read something else that nearly made my heart stop beating. It said that a box of the original series of Garbage Pail Kids cards from 1985 currently was worth $1,300. And the 25-cent packs of cards from the original first series were worth anywhere from $18-$25 each.

I was completely shocked. Those vile and disgusting trading cards I’d nagged my husband to stop buying actually were worth a lot of money?

At that moment, I could have sworn I heard my husband laughing from somewhere up above and saying, “Now I’ll bet you’re sorry you didn't let me buy any more of those cards!”

I definitely am. But I still have all of the boxes of the cards that he DID buy…if I can find their hiding place down in the basement.

And when I do, I have the feeling that Luke Puke and I are going to become very good friends.

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Monday, January 2, 2017


Every week, Woman’s World magazine runs a mini-mystery, which consists of a story that contains a mystery that the readers are challenged to solve. The solution is then revealed elsewhere in the magazine.

I have decided to try my luck at writing one of these mini-mysteries for the magazine. The only problem is, I’ve never written a mystery before, so I’m certain my story is loaded with flaws!  So before I submit it to the magazine, I want to test it out on you, my devoted readers, and see what you think – and what needs to be changed or improved!  I thank you in advance!  Here it is...



                                             STEALING THE SHOW


Sally A. Breslin


Judith sat in the front row of the community center’s crowded auditorium and debated whether or not she should leave.

            It had been ten years since she had danced onstage, yet here she was, about to audition for a spot in a local variety show, the proceeds of which would help fund new playground equipment for the local park. 

            “I want to thank all of you for coming here tonight,” a voice suddenly came over the microphone. “I’m Wayne Golding, the director.”

            Judith’s head snapped up. He couldn’t be the same Wayne Golding she had worked with two years ago, she told herself…not the same Wayne Golding who so angrily had accused her of stealing his promotion.  She hadn’t seen him since that day, when he’d quit his job and stormed out of the office.

            But she immediately recognized the bald man with the square chin and narrow-set eyes.  Judith’s spirits momentarily sank. She was certain Wayne never would choose her to be in his show, even if she were the only person who auditioned. 

Still, she was determined not to allow him to discourage her from trying. 

Judith’s tap-dancing routine to a peppy ragtime tune obviously impressed Wayne because, to her disbelief, he selected her to be one of the performers in the show.


On opening night, Judith was so nervous, she was afraid her constant pacing would wear a hole in the community center’s old wood-laminate floors.  Her anxiety increased when she happened to see Wayne in the hallway just before curtain time.

“Flashy costume,” he said, frowning at her bright turquoise, sequin-covered shorts and top. “Trying to steal the show?”

           Before Judith could respond, he muttered, “The way you steal people’s jobs?” He then walked off.

Judith willed herself to dismiss his comment. Her reasons for being in the show were to entertain the audience with her tap dancing and help earn money for some much-needed playground equipment, not concern herself about Wayne’s attitude or his bitterness toward her. The truth was, his reputation for being too short-tempered and self-centered had prevented him from getting the promotion at work. Yet he obviously still chose to blame her for his lack of success.

            After the show that night, Judith returned to the performers’ dressing room to change. She searched for her tote bag, which contained her clothes and shoes, but couldn’t find it anywhere.  Even long after everyone else had left, taking their belongings with them, there still was no sign of her bag.  Frustrated, Judith decided to go check the backstage area in the auditorium. 

As she approached the backstage office, she noticed a light on inside. She stopped and softly knocked on the door, which was slightly ajar, hoping whoever was inside might be able to offer some clue about her missing bag. When there was no answer, she opened the door and peeked inside.  There, she found Wayne lying face-down on the floor.  The show’s cash box, open and empty, was lying next to him.

            Judith rushed over to him. “Mr. Golding…Wayne!” she cried, bending to give him a gentle shake. “Are you all right?”

            When he didn’t respond, she grabbed the phone on the desk and called 911.

            By the time the two police officers arrived, Wayne, with Judith’s help, had managed to get up and sit in a chair near the desk. 

           “I’m Detective Burton,” the elder policeman said, nodding at Judith. “And this is Patrolman Clemens.”

           The detective moved closer to Wayne. “Are you injured, sir?  An ambulance is on its way.”

            “I’ll be fine,” Wayne said, rubbing the back of his head. “I don’t need an ambulance.”

            “Can you tell us what happened?”  Detective Burton asked.

            Wayne took a deep breath. “I was backstage and started counting the cash proceeds from the show tonight, when I decided it would be safer to come into the office here to finish. I unlocked the door and just as I walked in, someone crept up behind me from out in the hallway and hit me on the back of the head. I blacked out.” He glanced at the empty cash box. “The money is gone.”

            “Did you happen to catch any glimpse of the assailant?” Detective Burton asked.  He slowly moved to stand behind Wayne.

            Wayne shook his head. “No. I didn’t see or hear a thing. I had no clue anyone was following me…not until it was too late.”

            Clemens, the young patrolman, looked at Judith. “Where were you when all of this happened?”

            “I was in the dressing room,” she answered. “Too far away to hear or see anything.”

            “Was there anyone with you?”

            She shook her head. “I was alone.  Everyone had already left, but I stayed behind to look for my tote bag.  I seem to have misplaced it.”

            The patrolman turned to Wayne. “Do you mind if I take a quick look around?”

            “No, not at all,” Wayne said. 

            The patrolman left the office.

            “So, Mr. Golding,” the detective said, “do you have any idea how much money was taken?”

            “$1,175,” Wayne answered, slowly shaking his head. “It takes a real low-life to steal money from the town’s children.”

            Five minutes later, the patrolman returned. “I found a tote bag,” he announced, holding up a bright pink bag with a large J monogrammed on the front. “It was under the staircase, just down the hall.”

            “Is that your bag?” Detective Burton asked Judith as he took it from Clemens.

            She nodded and frowned. “Someone obviously must have taken it, searched through it and then tossed it there. Luckily, I knew better than to keep anything of value in it.”

            The detective handed the bag to her.  “Would you mind removing the contents?”

            Judith opened the bag.  She removed her sweater, slacks, shoes, keys and makeup case.

            “Shake out the clothing,” the detective ordered.

            When Judith complied, bills of all denominations fluttered to the floor.

            “Well, well,” the young patrolman said, smiling at the detective. “I think we’ve found our thief!”

            “So do I,” Detective Burton said, reaching for his handcuffs. He moved toward Wayne and clasped them around his wrists.


*   *  *

                              Why did the detective suspect Wayne and not Judith?

                                (When you’re ready, scroll down for the solution!)
























Detective Burton knew that Wayne was lying about everything that had occurred.

Wayne said he had counted only a portion of the money before he entered the office, yet he knew the exact total when asked. He also said the thief had crept up behind him. Judith, because she couldn’t find her tote bag, still was wearing her costume and tap shoes, so Wayne surely would have heard her coming, especially on laminate flooring. This, however, also worked to his advantage, because her tap shoes allowed him to hear her approaching, so he would know exactly when to fake being assaulted. Also, if someone had hit him hard enough on the back of the head to knock him out, there would have been a noticeable mark or a lump on his bald scalp – yet Detective Burton, when he walked behind him to discreetly check his head, had seen no sign of an injury. Wayne, as an act of revenge, obviously had tried to set up Judith by putting the money into her tote bag as incriminating evidence and then hiding the bag so she would stay behind to search for it and hopefully find him lying “unconscious” in the office…placing her at the scene of the crime.