Tuesday, August 29, 2017


I honestly can’t remember ever making it through the entire six months between dental cleanings without having some reason to go see the dentist.  The moment I hit the two-or-three-month mark, my teeth apparently begin to suffer from dentist withdrawal and inevitably will do something sinister like grow an abscess the size of a tomato, crack in half or spew out a filling, just to force me to return to the House of Pain ahead of schedule.

Such was the case one night last week. I was, of all things, flossing (not munching on something like jelly beans or caramels) when I heard a “clunk” in the bathroom sink. It was a filling.  Needless to say, as my eyes shot daggers at that filling, lying there and taunting me, all I could think about was it meant I would be forced to eat Ramen noodles for dinner every night for the next year or so, because I have no dental insurance.

The next morning, although it tortured me to do so, I called my dentist’s office and made an appointment.

I hate to admit it, but I actually miss my old dentist, Attila the Driller. Ever since he sold the practice, I haven’t been able to keep track of the dentists who have come and gone. I’m surprised the office doesn’t have revolving doors – or a conveyor belt with dentists sitting on it.

So when I showed up for my appointment a couple days ago, I had no idea which dentist would appear. I was hoping it would be the one I’d had during my last visit because he had inflicted a lower degree of pain on me than most. But as luck would have it, a totally new guy entered the room.

The first thing I thought was, “Great – another one I’ll have to train,” because I have specific things I like and don’t like when I’m in the dental chair. For one thing, I don’t like what I feel are unnecessary x-rays. I mean, one night I sat down and calculated just how many dental x-rays I’ve had over the years. I lost count at 500. I figure that by now, I should be able to get a job standing at the top of a lighthouse and guiding ships at sea in the dark of night…with just the glow from my head.

Anyway, this new dentist took one look at the hole in my tooth (a front bottom tooth) where the filling had fallen out, and the first words out of his mouth were, “Let’s get an x-ray.”

I groaned. “Can’t you just fill it?”

“I want to know what I’m dealing with first,” he said. He then explained he had the latest state-of-the-art digital x-ray equipment that practically was radiation-free.

So, reluctantly I allowed the tooth to be x-rayed. The new fancy equipment allowed me to see the tooth on a screen right before me. My tooth came out looking like the underground tunnel system in one of those ant-farms the toy stores used to sell when I was a kid.

“Hmmm,” the dentist said, which, from experience, I’ve learned is never a good sign. “It appears you had a lot of hidden decay underneath the filling that fell out and it’s now decayed all the way into the pulp of the tooth. In fact, you’re also forming an abscess at the root.”

He then began to list all of the procedures and paraphernalia I would need to salvage the tooth. It sounded like a supply list from “Dental Parts R Us.” The final total was about the equivalent of a down-payment on a brand new Corvette.

“I’m going to do something called the cold-tooth test on your other bottom teeth,” the dentist then said.

I’d never heard of such a test before, but I immediately didn’t like the sound of it.

“It involves putting a freezing-cold substance on one tooth at a time,” he explained. “When you feel the pain in the nerve, I want you to raise your left hand. When the pain ceases, I want you to lower your hand.”

His explanation did nothing to make the test sound any better. I think the words “pain” and “nerve” might have had something to do with it.

Sure enough, he pressed something that felt like an ice cube against the first tooth.

“Arrggh!” I cried and jumped as the nerve in my tooth viciously stabbed me in protest.

“I said to raise your left hand,” he tersely reminded me.

I raised it.

“Now lower it when the pain goes away,” he said, removing the “freeze” from the tooth.

I lowered my hand.

He then did the same thing to the next tooth…and the next.  Each time he did, I shouted, “Arrggh!” And each time, he scolded me and reminded me to raise my hand.

By the fifth tooth, I was ready to raise my hand…somewhere directly between his eyeballs.

“Your last name wouldn’t happen to be Grey, would it?” I finally asked him.

The dental assistant burst out laughing.

The dentist, however, just sat there, looking puzzled. “You mean like in Grey’s Anatomy?” he asked.

The assistant laughed even harder.

“No,” I said. “Like in the book, Fifty Shades of Grey, where the main character is a sadist who enjoys torturing women!”

“Oh,” he said, his expression serious. “I guess I may have to read it, then.”

When the cold-tooth torture test finally ended, I asked the dentist when he could do the work on my tooth.

“I don’t do root canals,” he said, shaking his head. “I have an endodontist who does them for me.”

I knew from experience that just saying the word “endodontist” out loud added another $500 to my bill. After all, the guy was a specialist.

“I don’t have dental insurance,” I said. “I can’t afford all of this.”

“Well,” the dentist said, “your only other option is to have the tooth extracted and then get a partial denture."

“And how much is that?” I asked.

“Only about $2,000."

I didn't know which planet he hailed from, but in my world, the word “only” is reserved to be used in front of amounts like $10 or $25, not $2,000.

So I haven’t made the appointment yet to have my tooth repaired.

I jokingly said to one of my friends, “I don’t know how I’m ever going to get the money I need to fix my tooth. I guess I’ll just have to go stand out on some street corner and try to sell my body.”

“Ha!” her husband, who was eavesdropping on our conversation, blurted out. “That wouldn't work! You’d be the one who'd have to pay the guys!”

He doesn’t know just how close he came to also needing dental work.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Not a summer passes when friends don’t invite me to come stay overnight with them while they are camping somewhere in New Hampshire.

“It’s so peaceful to fall asleep listening to the crickets chirping every night,” my friend Jean told me.

I think some of my city friends forget I live out in the wilderness. Not only do crickets chirp at night in my back yard, coyotes howl incessantly and there’s this really loud whippoorwill that sings for hours right outside my bedroom window. I keep hoping it will develop a bad case of laryngitis, but so far, no such luck.

So trying to use the sounds of nature as a means in which to entice me to go camping just isn’t going to work.

Back when I was a newlywed, my husband also used to try to convince me to go camping. He constantly talked about wanting to sleep outside under the stars.  He’d done it while stationed in Colorado when he was in the military and he couldn’t stop raving about it.

“You could see a zillion more stars in the sky at night in Colorado than you ever could see here!” he gushed. “It was incredible! It was like actually being close to heaven!”

Incredible or not, he wasn’t about to get me to sleep outside underneath any stars, especially not after having recently watched the Peter Fonda movie, Race With the Devil. 

 In the movie, two couples unknowingly set up camp right near the isolated meeting place of a satanic cult that was in the process of slicing and dicing people for sacrificial purposes.  When the cult happened to spot the campers on their turf, the chase was on.  And let me tell you, those cult members were a really nasty bunch.

“Stuff like that happens only in the movies, not in New Hampshire!” my husband said. “Believe me, you’d love camping!”

He was talking about camping in a tent. When I was a kid, I spent summers at my family’s camp, which basically was a small cabin in the middle of the woods. It had no indoor plumbing or electricity, but at least it had windows and doors that locked, and beds with actual mattresses on them. I really wasn’t eager to sleep in a tent – something a strong wind could launch into orbit, or a bear could pick up with its teeth.

As luck would have it, two of our friends (I will call them “Jane” and “John” to spare myself the risk of having to retain an attorney) bought a fairly large two-room tent back in the 1970s and set it up for the summer at a campground along a river only about 15 miles from where we were living at the time.

“We insist that you come spend the 4th of July weekend with us!” Jane called to invite us. “We’ll have a great time barbecuing, swimming, playing cards and sitting by the campfire and roasting marshmallows.”

My husband practically did cartwheels when I told him about the invitation.  I, on the other hand, was secretly praying a meteor would land on John and Jane’s tent (not while they were in it, of course) and immediately put an end to the whole camping idea.

Still, never let it be said I wasn’t willing to try something at least once…especially if it meant putting an end to my husband’s constant nagging at me to go. 

As we headed toward the campground that next weekend, my husband was as excited as a kid at Christmas.  “I’m not going to sleep in their tent,” he said. “I’m going sleep outside, under the stars!  There’s no point in camping out if you can’t look up at the stars.”

I couldn’t help but think of that old joke about what it means if you wake up in the middle of the night while camping and see stars above your head. 

It means someone stole your tent.

Due to the holiday weekend, the campground where John and Jane were set up was so crowded, when the guy at the next campsite bent over, I was sitting close enough to read the tag on his underwear. 

By six o’clock, I was so hungry, my stomach was making noises that sounded as if I’d swallowed a live bear.

Finally, John lit the campfire – a regular old-fashioned campfire, not a grill – for what he promised was going to be a fabulous hot-dog and marshmallow roast.  I was so famished, I had to resist grabbing a hot-dog from the package and eating it raw.

Just as the blaze began to crackle, the skies opened up and dumped down so much rain, it drowned the campfire.  And by the time we rushed around gathering everything to bring back into the tent, we all looked as if we’d taken swan dives into the river.

It was bad enough having to sit wet, hungry and shivering with three other people in a tent, but John and Jane’s dog, Buster, a big collie, also was in there with us.  And believe me, he didn’t exactly smell fresh.

Even worse, the thunder that accompanied the rainstorm made Buster go crazy. He ran around in circles inside the tent and barked endlessly.  And even after the thunder stopped, he continued to bark.  In fact, an hour later, he still was barking.

Campers began to come over to the tent to politely ask us to keep the dog quiet.

After another half-hour of Buster’s incessant barking, the campers stopped being polite. In fact, they looked as if they were about to form a lynch mob. I seriously began to fear we were going to meet the same fate as the campers in the Race With the Devil movie (spoiler alert: they all ended up being murdered by the cult members).

The campground manager finally paid a visit to our tent. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave if you can’t keep the dog quiet,” he said. “I have had numerous complaints.  And I do have to consider the welfare of the other campers, especially those who have young children who are trying to sleep.”

Let’s just say that John, who was getting irritated by then, wasn’t exactly cordial in his response to the manager’s request…and the four of us ended up being “escorted” from the campground.

I felt like kissing the dog.

After that, John and Jane sold their tent and never went camping again.  And my husband stopped mentioning sleeping out under the stars.

But just in case he ever did, I was prepared. I bought some great self-adhesive, glow-in-the-dark stars I could stick up on the bedroom ceiling.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017


The other night, an elderly friend and I were talking about how before we know it, Christmas will be here. This led to the subject of shopping for gifts.

“Thank goodness for gift cards!” I said. “They are a lifesaver, especially for the hard-to-please.”

“I think gift cards are tacky,” he said. “And to be honest, I feel embarrassed whenever I have to use one.”

I had to disagree. I, for one, love gift cards and never have felt embarrassed when using one.

Well…actually, that’s not entirely true. There was one gift certificate I received a few years ago that did cause me some embarrassment. It was for $100 at Victoria’s Secret.

I once heard a female comedian say that she finally had figured out exactly what Victoria’s secret is…it’s that most women of normal proportions can’t fit into any of the stuff she sells.

I’m not embarrassed to admit I usually buy my underwear in packages of five for $7.98, usually at one of two stores ending with the word “Mart.”  And everything I buy is for comfort, not style.  I’ll take white cotton full-coverage panties any day over leopard bikinis or, heaven forbid, a thong. At least when I bend over while wearing jeans, if the waistband slides down, my backside never will be mistaken for a plumber’s.

The Victoria’s Secret gift certificate I received was unusual in the fact it was made of paper.  I mean, nowadays, stores issue gift cards that look like and are used like credit cards. I hadn’t seen a paper certificate since the Nixon administration.

Rather than embarrass myself by walking into an actual Victoria’s Secret store and being subjected to the “what’s that saggy old lady doing in here?” stares from the clerks, I decided to check out the company’s website on my computer.  I was both shocked and delighted to discover the online store sold jeans, blouses, jackets and even shoes!

Eagerly, I studied my options.  After about 45 minutes of deliberating, I finally selected an exclusive patent-pending pair of jeans called the “VS Uplift,” which supposedly had a hidden “butt lifting” feature built into the back.  Just the thought of my backside (which looked as if I were smuggling two flapjacks in my pants) being transformed into something that resembled Jennifer Lopez’s, made me press the “buy now” button.

I also ordered a pair of wedge-heeled denim sandals.  The total for the two items?  Six dollars more than my gift certificate.  I nearly needed CPR.

As I went through the payment process online, I was relieved to see a box that said, “click here” to use a gift certificate. I clicked it and then was asked to enter the certificate’s number, which I did.  After that, I was asked to enter the PIN number on my gift card.

Well, I didn’t have a PIN number because I didn’t have a card.  I had only a piece of paper. So I couldn’t complete the order.

Frustrated, the next day I headed over to a Victoria’s Secret store.  Optimistic soul that I was, I was hoping the in-person store carried some of the same things the online store did.

The moment I set foot in the place, however, I knew I was in trouble.  I saw displays of smelly things like cologne and body sprays…and lingerie…lots and lots of lingerie.  And there wasn’t a $7.98 five-pack of cotton panties anywhere to be found.

As I walked past racks of glittery and flowered panties that were so tiny they wouldn’t even stretch over my ankles, never mind my hips, I felt a rapidly impending sense of doom. 

Even the bras, with their spaghetti-thin, dainty straps, looked as if they couldn’t support two hard-boiled eggs without snapping. They were nothing like the super-structured ones I usually wore, with wide, padded straps thick enough to hold up two cannonballs, if necessary. 

“May I help you?” a clerk’s voice came from behind me.

“Um, where are the butt-lifting jeans and the denim sandals I saw online?”  I asked her.

“Oh, those are sold only online,” she said.  “Different designers promote their products on Victoria’s website.  But we don’t do that here in the stores.”

I frowned as I stared at a rack of bras with push-ups, plunging fronts and enough lace to trim a wedding gown – and I honestly couldn’t picture myself wearing any one of them under my sweatshirt when I walked my dogs – or picked up their poop. 

That’s when I spotted something on the checkout counter that made my eyes light up…a display of gift cards!  I rushed over and grabbed one.  “I’ll take this!” I said to the clerk.

“How much would you like it for?” she asked.

“A hundred dollars!”

She rang up the sale and I handed her my paper gift-certificate as payment.  She just stared at it in a way that made me feel as if she thought I’d just fished it out of the toilet.

“I think I’ve seen only three of these during the whole time I’ve worked here,” she finally said. “I don’t even remember how to ring one up.”

She called for assistance, and soon I was headed home with a gift card, complete with a PIN number, in hand.

I immediately logged onto my computer and ordered the jeans and sandals I’d previously tried to purchase. This time, my gift card was accepted.

And then I was informed that both items were indefinitely on backorder.

There were a few things I really wanted to say to Victoria right about then…but I decided I’d be better off keeping them a secret.

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Good news!  For those of you who don't already know, the Senior Beacon News has hired me to write a monthly humor column for them. It's called "Sally's World," and it debuted in this month's issue. I'm hoping this will be the beginning of a long and rewarding relationship!

CLICK HERE =====>https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384106

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


In only two months, I will be attending my 50-year high-school reunion…and I’m trying to figure out how to drop about 25 lbs. and 500 wrinkles by then. The problem is, if I lose some weight, I’ll end up with even more wrinkles because my skin doesn’t snap back the way it used to when I was young. Now it just hangs there, like a deflated balloon.

I have never had much success with dieting, mainly because I love sweets, especially anything chocolate. Even as I am writing this, there is a bag of Hershey’s dark-chocolate kisses sitting next to me. I have convinced myself that dark chocolate is healthy, so eating a half-pound of kisses in one night is actually good for me.

There is only one diet I’ve ever really had success with, and that was over 35 years ago. It was a no-carb diet, which basically eliminated every white food ever created (potatoes, bread, sugar, flour, rice, etc.), but allowed unlimited amounts of non-carbohydrate foods. 

I remember rushing out to buy the best-selling book that first introduced the new non-carb dieting craze back then. Basically, according to the author, the diet was based on the concept that if Eskimos could survive on nothing but whale blubber and no fresh fruits or vegetables and live to be 85 or older, then non-Eskimos also should be able to. And, using a lot of fancy medical terms that most laymen couldn’t understand (yours truly included), the book explained that when the body is deprived of carbohydrates such as sugar, flour, grains and potatoes, it is forced to eat its own fat.

Well, anything that could eat up my fat sounded ideal to me.

I read the book from cover to cover and decided the diet was a dream come true. Essentially, I could eat 10 pounds of zero-carb foods for dinner, if my stomach could hold that much, and still rapidly lose weight. Calories suddenly didn’t matter, either. According to the book, I could eat 10,000 calories per day, as long as what I ate contained no carbohydrates.

The list of zero-carbohydrate foods sounded pretty exciting…at first. It included just about every form of meat and poultry imaginable, plus eggs, butter, heavy cream, mayonnaise, cheese and most seafood, including butter-soaked lobster. A small amount of lettuce, which could be drenched in Roquefort dressing, also was allowed, to break up the monotony of all of the meat.

I eagerly started the diet on a Monday morning. My daily menu consisted of a cheese omelet with ham and bacon for breakfast; a grilled chicken breast or pork chops for lunch; and a big, thick steak and a small lettuce salad for dinner. For snacks, I munched on fried pork rinds, hard-boiled eggs, chicken legs or a handful of macadamia nuts, the only nuts allowed.

The first week, I lost 10 pounds. The second week, I lost eight. By the third week, I was ready to sneak into someone’s garden, dig up a potato and eat it raw. I also was dying for a slice of bread, even one that was fuzzy with mold.

The diet book recommended putting a slab of meat between two slices of cheese to simulate a sandwich, but that illusion didn’t work for me. I wanted bread. I wanted to smell and taste yeast.

The book did contain a recipe for “faux” bread for the truly desperate. It was made by whipping up a meringue from egg whites, then swirling the meringue into shapes that resembled rolls, and baking them until they were of a sponge-like consistency. The rolls (and I use the term loosely) then supposedly could be used just like bread. I tried the recipe and eagerly bit into one of the rolls. It was like eating air…only with less flavor.

I also began to crave desserts. So every night, I’d whip up a big bowl of heavy cream and flavor it with artificial sweetener and vanilla extract. There was nothing I could pile the whipped cream on top of, however, other than a slab of meat, so I’d grab a spoon and sit down and eat the entire bowl of whipped cream. I actually could hear my arteries clogging.

Still, I continued to lose weight. My success should have made me happy and encouraged me to keep going, but by then, I was too obsessed with my craving for carbohydrates to care. I needed carbs. I had dreams about carbs. Every bone in my body was begging me for carbs.

Not surprisingly, I finally allowed temptation to get the better of me, and I went on a carbohydrate binge that lasted for three days. I ate mashed potatoes topped with crumbled potato chips. I dumped chocolate pudding on top of chocolate ice cream and sprinkled it with chocolate chips. I ate half a loaf of bread slathered with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff.

And I ended up with such stomach cramps, I nearly had to call a priest to administer my last rites.

But worst of all, in less than a week, I gained back all of the weight I’d lost, and then some.

Even so, I am just desperate enough at the moment to try the diet again, mainly because I need something that works quickly, and I know from experience the no-carb diet is a very rapid pound-shedder.  Also, unlike other diets, it won’t leave me feeling so hungry, I’ll be desperately eyeing my dogs’ bowl of kibble.

So if you will excuse me, I’m off now to go buy a side of beef.

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CLICK HERE ======>https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384106