Surviving the sixties

For my 60th birthday, my husband wanted to surprise me with some romantic bedroom action. I was all excited, so I trotted into the kitchen to check out my over-the-counter pharmacy.

I shot him flirty looks as I began. “Let’s see. Anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants … that should do it. Give it a little time to work, and in one half hour let the spontaneity begin!”

Nobody wants to admit that they are more fragile than they used to be. In the old days if I fell on my butt, it would be an occasion for snorts of laughter. That was before my bone density scans showed that I was calcium challenged. Now when I fall, I freeze for a moment, take a full medical inventory, and (barring a splinter of pelvis jabbing out of my Levis) snort.

I live with two dogs who have been carefully studying football games for new and painful ways to show me their joy at seeing me when I come home. Lately, their favorite is the chop block. One gets behind my legs while the other jumps up against my chest. Unable to step back to brace myself, my only recourse is to yell, “Timber!” At times like these, I wish I had shoulder pads and a helmet.

Rather than call the 800 number to order a wrist band that will have somebody remotely monitoring my blood pressure while I poop (operators are standing by), I watch survival shows. You may wonder how watching “Survivor-Guy” or “Nude and Screwed” can prepare one for spending all day alone with ninja canines. Don’t make me come over there and smack you!

Survival shows are about using the materials at hand to (as the title would suggest) not die. I can now make a splint out of old National Geographic magazines and stale bread. In a pinch, I’ll just drag myself over to the pantry where I can live indefinitely off of dog kibble and cooking oil.

In the spirit of idiotic independence and misplaced pride, you won’t find me calling an ambulance when I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. I’m the moron who drove herself to the emergency room while in shock, with a shoulder broken in three places.

So with the help of reality TV I can easily take care of myself in an emergency. And on the odd chance that I break a hip while having sex, at least I will have loaded up on anti-inflammatories in advance.

Survival of the fattest

The problem with reality shows is that I look at them and say, “I could do that.” I’ve been watching Mountain Men lately, and the one common ingredient is that these guys are old. I’ve got that covered. The other requirement is that they live in places accessible only by parachute.

I’m not likely to be jumping out of a perfectly good plane anytime soon, but I still wonder how I would fare living off the land with the grizzlies, cougars, wolves, and the occasional rabid beaver.

These guys build their own hydroelectric plants, and juggle chainsaws just for fun. I lack the basic coordination to walk the dog without injuring myself. I’m currently nursing a rope burn from the leash when my dog decided to lunge at an imaginary squirrel, and my wrist got in the way. The burn is bad enough that it had all the staff members at the doctor’s office gagging, and they see some nasty shit.

If I injure myself in the wilderness, I can’t run to the corner drugstore for industrial strength narcotics. This is a problem as I don’t want to be able to pass a sobriety test if I’m in pain. Conversely, when your life depends on bagging a 12 point buck for dinner, you want to be able to recite the alphabet while aiming your high powered rifle.

I picture myself enjoying the beauties of nature, like waist-deep snow in the winter, and mosquitos that can carry away fully ripened watermelons in the summer. As it is, I get frostbite just from opening the freezer door.

I’m not keen on the idea of taking a bath in a washtub. My showerhead might get lonely. I’ve had lots of practice stacking firewood, which is why I know that the woodpile is primo real estate for spiders. I think I’ll give that one a pass.

My imaginary wilderness adventure involves hard labor, blisters, bitter cold, and thirty channels of infomercials on TV. No internet, no libraries, and no UPS deliveries from Amazon combine for a colorless existence. I haven’t forgotten the fluffy woodland creatures that look at your cabin as an all-you-can-eat buffet.

You may think that this is a pointless flight of fancy, but don’t forget the end of the Mayan Calendar (blah, blah, blah) or the collapse of the US dollar (blah, blah, blah). Soon we may all be growing turnips in our front yard and hunting wild boar, or the neighbor’s Chihuahua for you suburbanites. Hey, it was either him or me.


The first rule in a survival situation is: don’t panic. I told myself this as I watched the sun shining on my wet skin. Beads of perspiration ran down my neck and pooled maddeningly in my eyes. I leaned back and tried to slow my breathing. There I was, heat index of 110 degrees, surrounded by sand, nothing to drink … rrr rrr rrr rrr, the damn truck still wouldn’t start.

I pictured myself in the Serengeti, 20 pounds thinner and wearing one of those cute little khaki safari outfits. Hey, it’s my fantasy. The illusion would have been perfect if not for the throngs of happy beach-goers, public toilets, and cold showers only a few feet away.

The problem is that my husband can fix practically anything, which means that he won’t ask for help until our bleached bones are discovered by a local Boy Scout troop; maybe not even then.

By now I knew the drill.

  • Kick the tires
  • Raise the hood
  • Swear
  • Crank the engine
  • Repeat

Apparently, the only cure for a vapor lock is time. I’ve cleaned the attic in August, been cooped up for eight hours with six teenage girls in a mini-van, survived hot flashes and night sweats, and had my parents walk in on me and my boyfriend in the bathtub. I can take the heat.

Even so, about an hour into the exercise I considered secretly calling AAA while my sweetie was swearing at the engine, or stripping down to stand under the outdoor shower until the police came to haul me away to an air conditioned jail cell. The latter would probably bring faster results, with the added bonus of free publicity in the local paper’s crime beat.

Finally, the truck turned over and we were able to return to our nice air-conditioned motorhome … just in time for my husband to try to replace a fan belt on the RV using only twine, pocket lint, and leftover hot dog buns.

While I was picturing myself on the Serengeti, he was reliving episodes of MacGyver. I guess we all need our fantasies. My next one will involve an igloo and tap-dancing penguins. A greater chance of hypothermia, but no risk of public nudity.