No 4G for me

My friend just bought a Droid x. Why, you may ask, would she need a handheld super computer? Because her son told her it would be too hard for her to use. Sure enough, when she talks on the phone she accidentally pulls up a map of Indonesia with her chin. I’m talking about how my dog vomited his breakfast, while she’s looking at the weather report for Jakarta. Continue reading

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water

Days after my high school graduation, a new movie was released. Jaws was an instant sensation, but I was too scared to go see it. Every night this week we have real life Jaws brought to our living rooms courtesy of the Discovery Channel. We’re going to need a bigger wide-screen.

Other than commercials for erectile disfunction, you don’t see a lot of baby boomers out there catching waves: partly, because we don’t want to break a hip trying to wrestle the surfboard out of the Jeep, but also because we were emotionally scarred by a movie that couldn’t even get it’s mechanical shark (Bruce) working until well into filming.

When I was 32 (and had not yet seen Jaws), I decided to conquer my fear once and for all. I went out snorkeling in the coral reefs off the Florida Keys. I was holding my breath as a dangled one flipper into the water, like a gunfight where the cowboy holds his hat out to see if it gets shot out of his hand. Once I was confident that nothing was going to eat my foot off, I slipped into the shark infested waters, which by definition is “anywhere in the ocean.”

I tried to imagine WWJCD (What would Jacques Cousteau do?) as I gathered the courage to put my face in the water. This was, after all, my face: what I use to smell, and see, and eat toasted coconut donuts. It is just one of many parts of my anatomy that I would rather keep intact. I’m not sure to this day if Jacques came to no harm all those years because the sea is relatively safe, or because sharks don’t like the taste of stringy old French men.

Once afloat, I was relieved to see no sinister shadows under me. What I didn’t know was that with my limited field of vision, I wouldn’t have seen a shark if he was chewing on my outstretched arm. This is just one of many juicy tidbits I’ve learned from watching shark week.

More and more, actual shark attacks are being captured on film. I’m sorry, but if I wanted to see exposed muscle and dangling flesh, I’d watch Freddy Kruger or Saw. Frankly, I have more chance of having my skin flayed stepping into a dogfight (done), but becoming part of the food chain is not my choice of ways to leave this world.

Maybe someday I’ll have the courage to get back in the water, but I’d feel better if I were old and French.

Hanging out with Royal-tea

I’d like to think that my invitation to the garden party is still in the mail. Most likely, one look at the mustard stain on my t-shirt was enough to convince the Rockefellers to cut me from the guest list.

As a change from our usual lunch out, my friend and I decided to go to a tea room. Not wanting to stand out like Jerry Falwell at a gay pride parade, we went online to look up the proper etiquette for high tea. We found the British royal family’s site, which gave extensive and snooty mannerly advice.

Without it, I would have looked like a plebian weenie, sloshing my sugar  around in my cup; leaving my napkin on the chair when I went to the loo; and forgetting to extend my pinkie while sipping. Unfortunately, we went for onesies, and they closed at eleven thirties. Obviously, the tea room was not up on their royal etiquette. Damn! I had put on make-up and everything.

Years ago I had the opportunity to take tea at Clairidges Hotel in London. My daughter got up to go to the loo and (gasp) left her napkin on her chair. As she went to wash her hands, a lady jumped in front of her at the sink. Bekki was all set to be annoyed, when the woman redeemed herself by filling the basin and stepping aside for her. When she returned to the table, I had to explain the concept of bathroom attendants. Since I had always assumed that they were an urban myth, I rushed into the bathroom to see the woman for myself. I left my napkin on my chair, but at least I wasn’t crass enough to ask her to pose for a picture.

I would like to host a tea party of my own, but if you come to my house, you will get a chance to see up close why I should never be allowed to entertain guests. When my parents recently came to visit, my dog barked at them for the first two days, and the cat peed on the sofa out of agitation. Where would people sit? My dining room chairs were put together with an allen wrench and prayer back in the seventies. They are suitable only for anorexic super models with exemplary balance and grace.

I totally blame my mother for my etiquette ignorance. She taught me that thank you cards are only for wedding presents and RSVP’s are for losers. Just the same, I hope you’ll accept an invitation for tea at my house. Prepare to drink it out of chipped coffee mugs. You’ll get a 100 calorie pack of shortbread cookies and a paper napkin. I’ll probably clean the loo before the party. All I ask in return is that you don’t leave your napkin on your chair, and don’t wear the t-shirt with the mustard stain.

Today the emergency room, tomorrow the Olympic Committee

A year and a half ago, I decided to channel Cesar Milan and become the family dog whisperer. Once my dog had mastered heel, sit, stay, and come, I turned my attention to the other family canines. After my daughter’s two dogs got into a fight one night, I decided that they needed a pack leader: someone who could help them master “the walk.”

The next morning I showed up at her house armed with 110 pounds of Doberman Pinscher, and oozing confidence from every pore. I saddled up her dogs and stepped out onto the porch. Things started going downhill before I got the door closed.

I was holding a leash in my left hand, attached to an English Mastiff that weighed more than I did, and in my right hand were the leashes for a Doberman and a chow mix. All three dogs were poised to self combust with joy as I carefully negotiated the steps. I wrestled my charges down the driveway and across the street, where they wrapped me up like lights on a Christmas tree. No sooner had I disentangled myself, than the neighbor dogs came galloping at full bark to the fence. I was trying to put the brakes on as three straining canine backsides wobbled in my vision.

Suddenly, I was airborne and watching the pavement rushing up at me. I managed to get my left wrist free of the mastiff leash loop before going for a Nantucket Sleigh Ride across the asphalt. The doctor was impressed that I managed to break my shoulder in three places.

I had been diagnosed with osteopenia a year before and had been dutifully downing daily calcium, but apparently it wasn’t enough to prevent the fracture. This being my first broken bone, I didn’t want to repeat the experiment, so there’s little chance that I’ll move beyond my amateur standing to become a professional dog walker.

Since dog walking is more dangerous than I suspected, and requires more skill and strength than I possessed, I am going to petition the Olympic Committee to make it a recognized event.

The Mastiff Marathon will involve a course complete with small yappy dogs, mailmen, ice cream trucks, and miles and miles of fire hydrants. Contestants are judged on time, style, skill, and the integrity of their skeletal systems after the course. I hear that the Russian judges will mark you down for the number of hydrant stops.

So what if I’ll never win the gold. I have a plaster cast in my trophy case.

Tweet Dreams

This week I found myself unexpectedly following 256 people on the verbal diarrhea that is Twitter. It took me all day Friday to unfollow people with names like “orgasm 4 U,” many of whom can’t spell “the.” Is it a rapper or hip-hop thing to call yourself “teh milk 4 ten dog”?

My twitter name is KarlaTelega; uninspired, unoriginal, and not even followed by the suffix “-licious.” I still can’t refer to posting a comment as “tweeting” somebody, without laughing. That’s not the only problem I have with Twitter. I’m not sure how to describe my life in 140 characters or less without visual aids, and I don’t really care to hear who random people met at the bar last night, unless it involved Harrison Ford.

I paid $5 to an independent service provider to rustle me up 100 followers. You may think of it as lazy, but I think of it as 100 blind dates. I plugged words into my search engine, like menopause, senior, and woman. You’d think that would narrow the field down a bit. Unfortunately, in exchange for the 100 followers, the service randomly chose 250 people for me to follow. I got a lot of 18 year-old rapper dudes and dudettes who are apparently seniors in high school, and who use the term “woman” for anything with a vagina. There were two hits on the word, “menopause.”

Where are my hormonally challenged peeps: the women who are scrapbooking their babies’ teeth as we speak?

As I repeatedly unfollowed people, I was trying to figure out my criteria for stalking the ideal following victim. Was I using racial profiling, age bias, was I being gender specific? In the end, I just cut everyone who thought that “f*#kin” was an adjective. I was left following 9 people, and had 3 followers. Since two people were already following me before this, I ended up blowing my budget on one follower.

I just want B to know that she is under no obligation to provide the whole $5 worth of following on her own. She is welcome to invite some friends to split the cost with her, as long as they know that f*#kin is the present progressive of the verb f*#k. I have my standards.

Abandon all hope, all ye that denture here

At the risk of sounding like a dental hygienic goober, I have to admit that unless there’s an 8 oz. chunk of sirloin caught between my teeth, I’m not likely to floss this week. Those of you who floss daily are delivering a well deserved, “ewww.” The rest of us are saying, “Yeah. What’s your point?”

Here’s my problem with flossing. You are taking a mini garrote and wrapping it around two fingers. Then you are jamming a string with the tensile strength of concertina wire between your teeth with enough force to send it directly into your gums. You know you’re doing it right if your fingertips are purple and your gums are bleeding. Under no circumstances is purple a good color for skin. I feel sorry for the hygienist who is trying to sell you on the idea of periodontal pain every day. “It may seem like cruel and unusual punishment,” she says brightly, “but it’s not like I’m asking you to listen to country music every day.”

I used to need valium, laughing gas and restraints to sit still in the dentist’s chair. I’ve matured way past the need to be strapped down, and since my current dentist is old school, I can kiss off any hope of recreational drugs. He just has you bite down on a bullet while he’s administering the novocaine: the man can find a nerve ending with pinpoint accuracy. Most of my dental work now consists of damage control on old fillings, and new damage to my bank account.

My parents didn’t make me brush when I was a kid, and I’m not sure that dental floss was invented back then. Naturally, I got a lot of cavities. We went to Dr. M. because he had an easy payment plan. He also had a limited supply of Novocain, a diesel powered drill, and hands that smelled of cigar smoke. People didn’t wear rubber gloves back then unless they were cleaning toilets, so I got the full experience of second hand cigar spittle sliding down my throat and a eau de stogie wafting up my nose.

Since my teeth and fillings are marching to the tune of different drummers in the department of wear and tear, the sins of my youth have come back to bite me in the butt. I have one implant to replace a crown that developed a fatal attraction to caramels. The dentist had an actual ratchet to screw my new tooth into my jaw. The parts may not be cheap, but it’s the cost of labor that will really kill you.

At what point are you missing enough teeth to consider dentures? My husband had to get a tooth pulled, and the dentist has targeted two more for oral elimination. If three implants cost the same as a full set of dentures, his teeth will be sleeping in a cup on the bedside table from now on.

Cervantes said that a man’s teeth are as valuable as diamonds. Mine may be as expensive as diamonds, but I’m still not likely to floss today. Basically, I’ve learned nothing.

They don’t whistle anymore

I have to admit it; I kind of miss the vulgar, unwanted attention of construction workers, sailors, priests, etc. Once when I was a newlywed, I had a whole shipload of seamen lining the fantail to hoot and holler at me as I waited on the dock. I dove into my car and hunkered down, embarrassed by the attention. If I only knew then what I know now.

Gone are the days of the wolf whistles, double takes, and suggestive comments. More recently, I had a guy stop me in the parking lot to tell me that he liked me because I was “thick.” I’m obviously not counting that in the “win” column.

Anymore, the general rule of thumb is that I will only attract male attention in a dark movie theater, on a moonlit night, or at the assisted living center on Pine Street. Maybe if I still shopped in the Junior Section, buying jeans that barely covered my Cesarean scar, or if I had my pre-menopausal figure back, I could attract the young studs. Probably not. It seems rather pointless to get my belly button pierced, when it is totally obscured by the high rise, matronly jeans from the ladies department. Trust me, you do not want to see my skin bubbling out through the crack between a skimpy shirt and low-cut jeans.

I know that true beauty comes from within, but the only things I have within at the moment are heartburn and hemorrhoids. That does not lend itself well to projecting an aura of sultry sexiness.

I have a friend who wears make-up and does her hair every day. She walks out of the house looking really good. When we went to a luncheon recently, I decided to wear make-up. I had to rummage through cosmetics leftover from the Pleistocene era, and did my best to remember whether to use concealer before or after my foundation. My eyelids ended up near my cheekbones, as the loose skin dragged along behind the eyeliner pencil, and I poked myself in the eye repeatedly with the mascara brush. I stepped into the parking lot to meet my friend, who took one look at me and simply said, “no.”

I like to think of the movie “Calendar Girls” when I start to believe that old age and beauty are mutually exclusive. If you haven’t seen it, the show is about a group of elderly ladies who decide to pose for a nude calendar as a fundraiser. In the end, the pictures turned out breathtakingly beautiful, and the calendars couldn’t be printed fast enough for the demand.

I’d like to think that with the right lighting, camera filters, and moderate air brushing, I could look good for a naked photo. That’s assuming that I don’t have heartburn and hemorrhoids that day.

Daddy long legs

Spiders! I hate spiders. I wasn’t born with a natural fear and disgust, but experience has taught me that you don’t want to get within hopping distance of one. Don’t try to tell me that spiders don’t hop. With a magnifying glass you would be able to see the anticipation in all the lenses of their compound eyes, and the gnashing of their venom-filled fangs each time a person gets within range.

Last weekend I took on the challenge of cleaning the screened porch. This involved sweeping away cobwebs along the roofline while standing directly underneath them. Tiny strands and egg sacks were flying every direction and I was at ground zero. I struggled to be strong and not beg for rescue each time I had to gish a live one. I couldn’t wait to strip out of my shorts and t-shirt so I could take hot shower.

The night after my ordeal when I went to bed, I felt some discomfort in my yoo-hoo area. I was itching and scratching in a most unlady-like manner. Fortunately, as we all know, scratching is acceptable as long as you are under the covers with the lights out. Finally, I turned on the light to investigate and found a spider bite right where the panties meet the inner thigh. Let me be perfectly clear: there had been a spider IN MY PANTS! Thank God for those extra pounds that kept my panty elastic stretched tighter than shrink wrap, forming an impenetrable barrier between my lady parts and any 8 legged creatures.

I should be used to it by now. I live in South Carolina where they grow spiders as big as saucers. A walk through the woods involves a lookout man with a baseball bat, and a revolver. On one such walk, my son stopped to do what guys normally do when confronted by alligators, snakes and giant spiders: he poked one of these monsters with a stick. I swear I am telling the truth. The spider grabbed the stick and took it away from him. Then he shook the stick menacingly at my son. Even the armed and dangerous lookout man wasted no time getting back to the car.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from visiting our beautiful state, but you might want to stay out of the woods and off of my back porch when you come.

Send in the rodeo clowns

A funny thing happened to me on the way to menopause; I became a fan of professional bull riding. As if that weren’t enough, I bought a musty smelling, second-hand snakeskin and suede western jacket – WITH FRINGE. Did I mention that it is dyed forest green and has long dangling laces at the cuffs with heavy miniature musket balls attached to the ends? Each time I reach up to brush the hair out of my eyes, these decorative yo-yos from hell swing away from my body, gathering speed before arcing back to bludgeon me in the face. Not everyone can pull off that look.

I’m pretty sure that hormones are involved, because the same time that I began listening to Tim McGraw, I lost all desire for chocolate. I wish I’d known that one of the side affects of menopause is a desire to visit Dollywood. They don’t mention that in the brochures at the doctor’s office.

I decided to run with it and paid top dollar for the best seats when the PBR (Professional Bull Riding) tour came to town. As the cowboys were introduced, I cheered and clapped, smacking myself repeatedly with my jacket laces. We were in the front row, right next to the gates. From this distance I could see every acne scar on the faces of the kids who were riding thousands of pounds of angry pot roast. The cowboys didn’t look old enough to shave, and the lineup included one Amish lad on his Rumspringa. Can you imagine? After living a simple life for sixteen years, you’re given a year to go nuts and you choose serial trampling over Jäger?

Soon I found myself staring into the bloodshot eyes of a huge white Brahma bull, with only two feet and a flimsy rail separating us. It seemed to be fixated on my green jacket. It stood staring long enough to give me plenty of time to reconsider my recent fashion decisions. When he finally returned to the chutes I had made up my mind – I’ll cancel the line dancing lessons.

I don’t know where this mid-life affinity for all things country will take me. I only know that when I get there, I’ll smell like Grandma’s attic and have tiny pellet sized bruises on my face.

I didn’t know my pelvic would be a written exam

The doctor asked, “What happens to our vaginas as we get older?” I just stared at him stupidly. A) Only one of us had a vagina. B) Didn’t he go to medical school so he could tell me the answer? The doctor then explained the aging process to me with graphs, charts, and sweeping gestures. He came just short of breaking out the hand puppets.

It turns out that we get drier, the tissue gets thinner, and it gets more sensitive. I only got one answer right out of three, so I hope he’s grading on a curve. I like my OB/GYN, but he seems to take a perverse pleasure in pointing out my aging anatomy.

He ordered the bone density scan that told me I had osteoporosis. I scurried back to work after that doctor appointment and made a beeline for the ladies room. I proceeded to turn one way and the other looking for any telltale signs of a dowager’s hump in the mirror. I swear, if I’d had a pimple on my shoulder I would have freaked!

It’s really disconcerting when your years of hypochondria start to pay off. Most of my life, even when I thought I was dying, my blood tests and x-rays came out normal. Then, about a year ago a doctor ordered an EKG for a simple blood pressure issue.

“Ms. Telega, we found an abnormality on your EKG.” the doctor announced.

“Pull the other one!”

“No really, you have an extended QT wave.”

“Where’s the camera? Did my kids put you up to this?”

The abnormality turned out to be a side-affect of a new medication I was taking, and my heartbeat went back to normal as soon as I stopped the meds. Nevertheless, it earned me my first trip to a Cardiologist.

So far, plummeting estrogen levels are responsible for: lower tolerance for some medications; broken bones; vaginal dysfunction (the other VD); and a mustache. I shouldn’t be surprised since they call it “the change of life,” but I had only mentally prepared myself for the facial hair.

With so many Americans entering their 50’s, newly old people will be flocking to all kinds of specialists in the medical profession. I hope the doctors all have a good supply of hand puppets.