Thursday, March 30, 2017


The other day, a store clerk and I got into a discussion about Easter back when we were kids.

“My mother always bought me a new hat for Easter,” she said. “How about you?”

“Definitely!” I answered. “And the more flowers on it, the better. I walked around looking as if I had a get-well bouquet growing out of my head!”

She giggled. “And let’s not forget the brand new, patent-leather Mary Jane shoes.”

I nodded. “They were so shiny, there were rumors that the boys could see the reflection of our panties in them!”

Our conversation made me think about Easter outfits as I drove home from the store that day. Back when I was young, going shopping with my mom for my annual Easter outfit actually was pretty exciting. I loved trying on all of the frilly little dresses with fluffy petticoats underneath, and then choosing the matching accessories - a hat, white gloves, a purse and shoes.

Even more fun was going to church and seeing everyone else’s new outfits. It wasn’t very often that you’d see shoes so shiny and clothes so crisp on an entire congregation. I swear you could smell the new-clothes scent when you walked into the church…kind of like a new-car scent, only clothes-ier.

Of course, after Easter, those same outfits got pretty boring because everyone wore them nearly every Sunday, so they could get their money’s worth out of them. After all, it wasn’t as if we kids could wear party dresses to school.

On Easter Sunday, I always enjoyed seeing my friends’ new Easter finery, too. I remember one year when my friend Sue, who lived next-door and was about nine at the time, came over to show me her outfit. It was a pale yellow dress with lots of ruffles, topped with a matching flowered yellow hat. As Sue and I were standing out in the yard, her older sister, Diane, dressed in a lacy white Easter outfit, suddenly came rushing over.

“That’s MY petticoat you’re wearing!” she shouted at Sue. “You take it off right now!”

“Will not!” Sue shot back. “Mom said I could wear it for Easter.”

Diane, her expression furious, stomped over to Sue, reached up underneath her dress and yanked down the petticoat. It fell into a heap on the ground.

Instead of pulling it back up, Sue stepped out of the slip and threatened to yank out her sister’s hair by the roots. Diane started running and Sue took off after her. By the time they returned for the slip, Sue’s hat was hanging down over one eye and the flowers on it were all flattened. Diane’s formerly shiny shoes had scuffs all over them.

Sue grabbed the petticoat at the same time Diane did, and a tug-of-war ensued. Diane finally tore the slip out of Sue’s hands and ran off with it, letting loose a stream of evil cackles as she did.

That was a great Easter.

When I was young, my biggest problem was keeping my Easter outfit clean until I got to church. But I swear, it was the Easter Bunny’s fault, not mine. I mean, I’d get up at the crack of dawn on Easter Sunday, grab my empty Easter basket and go eagerly searching for all of the toothache-inducing goodies that Mr. Bunny had hidden for me.

Drool would seep out of the corners of my mouth as I uncovered one chocolate egg, jelly bean, marshmallow chick and chocolate bunny after another. And then there always was the biggest treasure of all; a giant fruit, nut and cream-filled chocolate egg about the size of a bowling ball. It was enough to give a kid a bad case of worms.

And every Easter, Mom would remind me, “Now don’t eat any of that candy until we get back from church!”

But what normal, red-blooded kid actually could hold a basket heaped with candy and not sample a piece? When it came to chocolate, I didn’t have an ounce of willpower back then…and all these years later, I still don’t.

So several of my frilly Easter dresses somehow mysteriously ended up with smears of chocolate all over them. And so did my face. And my (formerly) white gloves.

That probably explains why many of the children of today never will experience the thrill of wearing frilly lace dresses and shiny patent-leather shoes, or sprouting flower gardens on their heads on Easter Sunday.

And they have the messy little hair-pulling, shoe-scuffing, chocolate-chomping kids from my generation to blame for it.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017


April Fools' Day is just around the corner, and if I were smart, I’d stay in bed all day with the covers pulled over my head. You see, even though I consider myself to have decent sense of humor, I’m rarely amused when someone pulls a prank on me.

I guess I’m not the only who’s not crazy about pranks. I watched this couple on TV the other night who, as an April Fools' joke, thought it would be funny to hold a fake wedding, complete with a band, caterer and decorations. Gift-bearing relatives, unaware that the wedding was a sham, flew in from all over the country, and even from as far away as Australia, to attend.

When, at the reception, the bride and groom picked up the wedding cake, which turned out to be nothing but ornately decorated Styrofoam, and flung it into the air, then confessed that the entire wedding had been nothing but an elaborate April Fools' joke, the guests looked as if they were ready to form a lynch mob.

All I can say is that if the fake newlyweds had been MY friends and I’d forked over my hard-earned money for a flight all the way from Australia, I probably would have made them eat their Styrofoam cake.

Back when I was in grade school, I dreaded April Fools' Day because I knew I’d inevitably end up being the victim of some dumb prank. One of the boys’ favorite pranks was to stick a paper with some dumb message on it on the girls’ backs. There was the ever-popular “Kick Me!” and more creative ones such as, “My Bra is Stuffed with Socks.”

I still remember this one boy who gave me a piece of gum that turned my teeth completely black. Then every time I smiled afterwards, everyone would burst out laughing. I couldn’t figure out why until I finally looked into a mirror and saw my stained, toothless-looking mouth. I was horrified.

But that wasn’t as torturous as the red-hot gum a girl gave me the year after. One chew and I felt as if my mouth had been stuffed with an entire crop of jalapeno peppers. Even my eyeballs were sweating.

I thought that once I was out of school, I wouldn’t have to worry about corny April Fools' Day jokes any more, but I soon learned that chewing-gum pranks weren’t limited only to grade-school kids.

When I was 20 and working in an office, one of my co-workers, Sue, passed around some gum on April Fools' Day. Not until all of us began to stampede toward the ladies’ room did she laughingly confess that she’d given us something called Feen-a-Mint laxative gum!

But alas, revenge can be sweet. As the other office girls and I (when we weren’t fighting for the bathroom) secretly gathered to plot devious pranks like putting Super Glue on Sue’s chair or spiking her shampoo with Nair, fate stepped in and punished her for us.

It just so happened that when the gum was being passed around, our boss unexpectedly came into the office and grabbed a couple pieces for herself. Afterwards, when the poor woman finally was able to pry herself away from the bathroom, she fired Sue.

“Am I really fired or is this just an April Fools' joke, too?” Sue asked her.

“Tell you what,” the boss said, “if you chew a few of pieces of that delicious gum of yours right now, you can keep your job.”

We never saw Sue again.

I’ve noticed that pranks have become even more devious over the years. For example, a few years ago, some company came up with very realistic looking but very fake lottery scratch-tickets. Give one to some poor sap, he scratches it and automatically wins something like $100,000.

Then, as the guy is jumping up and down, shouting, “Whoopee!” and “Yahoo! I’m rich!” and hugging everyone in the room, including the cat, you burst out laughing and shout, “April Fool! The ticket is fake!”

I suspect that a high percentage of people who are listed as missing persons are people who once gave fake lottery scratch-tickets to their friends.

So this year on April Fools' Day, I am not going to chew any gum, scratch any lottery tickets, or answer either my phone or the door.

And with my luck, Publisher’s Clearing House will show up on my doorstep with a check for a million dollars.

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Monday, March 13, 2017


Ever since I first became a homeowner, trash disposal has been a problem for me. The main reason is because I’ve always lived on private roads where the town doesn’t provide trash pickup…so I’ve had to find other ways to get my trash to the dump.

Call me squeamish, but after my first trip to the dump, being hit in the face with the sweet smell of “Eau de Garbage,” and battling swarms of flies and bees, I decided it definitely wasn’t going to be near the top of my list of must-visit places any time again in the near future.

Luckily, I found a local guy named Richard who offered weekly residential trash pickup. So I hired him to do the dirty deed for me.

Richard was great. He was cheap, punctual, and best of all, I could throw out anything – appliances, paint cans, dead bodies – and he’d take them without hesitation. Life was good.

But alas, Richard, rest his soul, unexpectedly passed away. So I suddenly found myself back at square one.

I couldn’t find any other small-town trash hauler to take care of my problem, so I ended up hiring one of the biggest companies in the nation – Waste Management. In a week’s time, I went from having a trash guy with a rickety pick-up truck with wooden-board railings on the back, to having a trash guy with a big, fancy truck large enough to hold an entire apartment building – along with all of its residents.

Waste Management was amazing, though. For only about $10 a week, they came to my house, picked up the trash, set the barrels back down in an upright position with the lids back on them, and called me whenever a holiday affected their schedule, so I’d know when to put out the trash. And on the days when I was late getting my containers out to the road, they would phone me and say, “We’re at the end of your driveway, waiting for you!”  They were the epitome of trash-pickup perfection.

When I moved to my current location, out in the middle of nowhere, once again I found myself on a private road, with no town services. I contacted Waste Management, certain they would drop me so fast, they would leave skid marks, when they found out where I was living. But they said it would be no problem for them to drive about eight miles out of their way to collect my trash. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

All went smoothly…except for one thing. My driveway at the new house was over 400 feet long, so sometimes getting the trash out to road was a real challenge, especially in the winter, when the driveway was snow-covered. I ended up having to hoist my trash containers into the back of my car and driving them out to the road.

A couple years ago, my neighborhood received the good news that our private road finally had been approved to become a town road, so we, at long last, would have our trash picked up by the town. I celebrated, thinking of how much money I was going to save. But I also felt a little sad to think I would be giving up, after over 20 years, my longtime relationship with Waste Management.

My celebration, however, was short-lived when the trash containers we were required to use – one for recycling and one for regular trash - from a company called Casella were delivered. Never had I seen such big – or heavy – containers. I tried to lift one and heard my spine making noises that sounded like popcorn popping. And I swear a family of three could live comfortably in each container. There was no way I could lift them into my car. And even if I somehow could, they were much too big to fit into it. Even worse, when I tried, as a test, to wheel them down the driveway, I began to feel as if I were one of the oxen in the weight-pulling contests at the fair. I had to stop and rest three times before I made it out to the road...and that was when the containers still were empty.

So I decided to stick with Waste Management, mainly because they allowed me to use my own lightweight Rubbermaid trash containers – ones that I actually could lift and fit into my car.

Two months ago, after having my trash pick-up day on Friday for years, Waste Management changed it to Wednesday. The first two weeks, I did fine, mainly because I stuck reminder notes all over the house so I wouldn’t forget to put out the trash on Wednesday morning instead of Friday. But the day really wasn’t the issue. It was the time.

Waste Management always had picked up my trash in the afternoon, so I had plenty of time to get it out there in the morning. I didn’t like putting out my trash the night before because of the coyotes. My area is overrun with them, and well, they think of trash containers as free gourmet buffets. But suddenly, the truck was showing up at 8 a.m., or even earlier. And there no longer were any phone calls to inform me they were waiting for me at the end of the driveway. So I ended up missing trash day.

I made a mental note to get the trash out there at the crack of dawn the next week – and I did…but on Friday instead of Wednesday. I immediately called Waste Management to apologize for making the truck come all the way out to the boonies for nothing.

“No problem,” the woman who answered assured me. “But please note that they start your route at 7 a.m. now, so make sure to have your trash out there before then, okay?”

I promised her I would. And I really was determined to do exactly that the next time.

And I would have – if I hadn’t slept until 10 a.m.

Once again, I called Waste Management to apologize.

This time, I spoke to a male employee. “It’s okay,” he said. “In fact, we won’t even charge you for extra bags next week if you have more than the allowed five per pickup.”

“Thank you SO much! I promise you it won’t happen again,” I said, vowing to set three alarm clocks if necessary, so I could get my trash out to the road before 7 a.m.

But the next day, I came home from shopping to find a voice mail saying, “This is Waste Management. We just wanted to inform you that as of March 29th, we no longer will be servicing your address. If you have any questions, please call us.”

I broke all speed records calling them.

“The route is changing,” the employee explained. “And your address will no longer be on that route.”

“My address never was on their route!” I said, “My address isn’t on anybody’s route other than migrating Canada geese!  I need you guys!  I can’t handle the town’s trash containers without risking a hernia! Puh-leeze, don’t drop me!”

The employee’s tone was sympathetic. “I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do.”

“But just yesterday, you said everything was fine!”

“Sorry,” he repeated.

“I paid for three months in advance,” I said. “When am I paid up until?”

“March 29th.”

“And that just happens to be the same date when this so-called new route is starting?” I asked suspiciously, thinking what a convenient coincidence it was.

“That’s right.”

And that ended that.

So as of March 29th, I am going to be without anyone to pick up my trash, which means I’m going to have to drag the town’s huge containers out to the road, even if it takes me all day. On the plus side, I can bring them out the night before because no animal weaker than Godzilla could open those containers or even knock one over.

But I suppose if I have too much trouble trying to wrestle with the containers, I do have eight acres of unused land here. Maybe I can just start digging my own landfill.

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Monday, March 6, 2017


I’ve heard that you should change your brand of shampoo at least once a year to keep your hair in peak condition. In other words, if your hair starts to look flat, it may be time to give it a shot of something new to perk it up.

Well, lately my hair has been so droopy, I look like a basset hound. And the more I wash it, the droopier it gets. No “oomph,” no shape, it just hangs there like overcooked linguini. Even hours in curlers and a good dose of hairspray haven’t helped. The minute I set one foot outside in the wind – no, make that even a slight breeze - poof! I’m a basset hound again.

So I stood in the hair-care section of the pharmacy the other night and cluelessly stared at four zillion bottles of shampoo until my eyeballs ached. There was shampoo for oily hair, dry hair, brittle hair, color-treated hair, frizzy hair, synthetic hair and thinning hair. There were shampoos that volumized, straightened, added highlights, eliminated dandruff, killed head-lice and grew hair.

And that was only on the top shelf.

Back when I was young, shampooing was pretty simple. Just about everyone used either Prell, Breck or Halo shampoo. They weren’t made for any specific hair problems in those days. They were just plain, old-fashioned, get-out-the-dirt-and-gunk shampoos.

Halo was supposed to make your hair shine so much, it would look as if you had a glowing halo surrounding your head. Prell was so thick, the ads claimed that a pearl could be dropped into it and not sink. And Breck was famous for its Breck Girl ads, which featured gorgeous women with perfectly coiffed, gleaming hair. Not one of them had even the hint of (heaven forbid) a split end.

Personally, I always used Halo, even though it made my hair feel like a cactus. I never used Prell, but my friend Janet did, and her hair didn’t look much better than mine. I guess the fact that a pearl could float in the stuff didn’t matter a whole lot. I mean, a pearl really isn’t all that heavy. If they had dropped a few lead fishing-sinkers into the shampoo, then I might have been impressed.

Men didn’t have to worry about dry hair, though. The Elvis hairstyles that were popular back then required greasy stuff like Vaseline or a special hair-slicker called Brylcreem to keep their curls and waves properly “swooped.” So the guys walked around with hair so greasy, you could see your reflection in it, while we girls looked as if we were auditioning for the part of the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.

Shampoo lasted a long time back then because most people shampooed only once a week. We were told that frequent shampooing robbed hair of its natural oils and would result in breakage and premature baldness. And frankly, it was little scary to picture myself looking like my grandfather.

Anyway, I ended up buying a couple new shampoos at the pharmacy the other night. One was guaranteed to thicken hair, and the other said it would add loads of body and curl. Both sounded as if they would banish “limp” forever and give me something pretty close to a luxurious lion’s mane.

I tried the hair-thickening shampoo first. My hair ended up feeling as if it had been washed it in a vat of glue. I couldn’t even get a comb through it, it felt so sticky. And I woke up the next morning looking as if I’d slept with my head in my dryer’s lint trap.

So I tried the extra-body shampoo. My hair did seem thicker…probably because it was so full of static, I ended up resembling Albert Einstein. When I pulled my sweater off over my head that night, my hair stood straight up on my head. On the bright side, at least it wasn’t limp. 

I momentarily toyed with idea of heading back to the pharmacy and buying the shampoo that grows hair, but I just couldn’t shake the thought that if I had to actually touch the stuff to use it, I might end up with hairy hands.

So I am $25.86 poorer and still haven’t found a shampoo that makes my hair even remotely resemble the thick, flowing, spun-silk hair that all of the models have in those television ads.

I wonder if they still make Halo.

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