Kathleen Norton

Archive for the ‘Middle Age’ Category

If only they worked like they used to.

Before last Friday, I’d only ever searched one parking lot on my hands and knees.

It was way back in college when I’d lost the most important thing in my life at that time – my ticket for Ladies’ Night at the campus pub.

But that seek-and-find mission was a cinch compared to last week. Plus, it ended with a free beer.

The only thing I had to show for my recent efforts were gravel tattoos on my knees and a giant headache because I never found the thing that got lost.

And it was the one thing I cannot live without these days.

I am not talking about my eternally patient husband. I am not talking about the secret stash of hormone survival chocolate in the back of the kitchen cabinet (which had better be there when I get home).

I am talking here about something far more critical to my survival at age 53.

I am talking about my reading glasses.

If you’re old enough to remember when thongs were footwear, you are gasping as you read this and saying: “OMG! She lost her reading glasses! What will she do?’’

If you are 40 or younger, you’ll have no clue why I might have been so desperate to find them.

You won’t understand why I ran into the restaurant I’d just left, grabbed the 20-year-old hostess by the collar and begged for help.

You’ll be aghast to know that I made my daughter, who was about six minutes from giving birth, help me search, and that we had her 2-year-old join in.

“Let’s dance with Elmo!’’ she squealed and ran in a circle.

“Get back to work, kiddo!’’ I replied, figuring that since she is the shortest among us she had the best chance of finding anything down on the ground.

What can I say? I was desperate.

Over the age of 50, you can lose just about any other possession and not go into a complete panic. But lose those reading glasses and your world turns upside down. Instantly, you are Mr. (or Mrs.) Magoo.

You can’t read the stockpile of anti-aging vitamin bottles on the kitchen counter (including the ones that were supposed to improve give you better vision) and you can’t figure out if you’re cooking a roast at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or at 35 degrees for 350 minutes.

Without those glasses, I couldn’t read the text messages and I couldn’t see the little tiny pictures and videos that being sent to my phone.

I got a text about somebody’s else’s new grandbaby, though I have no clue whose it was.

There was also a picture of a beautiful river somewhere, unless it was a picture of a flooded basement.

I think I got a video of my 2-year-old granddaughter driving a toy car. Either that, or it was my friend, who is also short and brunette, in a new sports coupe.

I won’t know until the new glasses come in. Bribing the eye doctor people might have sped up this process.

But it turns out that they are very moral people.

Darn them.

So for the near future, it’s back to tweezing gravel off my leg, remembering a time when a lost pub pass was my biggest problem and seeing the world through a fuzzy and frustrating lens.

They all look so innocent

Let me apologize ahead of time.

This column could end quite suddenly because complete and total exhaustion is taking over my body.

Running a marathon or climbing a mountain did not cause this. Those things are a snap compared to the real cause of my fatigue: A visit with a human phenomenon that packs more energy into her body than a nuclear reactor.

In others words, a toddler.

They are deceivingly adorable little people who babble excitedly and blow kisses even from far away thanks to the wonders of Skype.

But “Skyping’’ does not hurt your lower back. Reality does. And we have a heating pad on its last legs to prove it.

Our path to pain began with good intentions.

“Hi Grandma!’’ and “Hi Papa!’’ our 2-year-old granddaughter exclaimed to us not long ago from the computer screen.

Her cuteness factor was off the charts and before we knew it, the car was packed and we were off to collect some real kisses instead of settling for virtual ones.

Me: “I can’t wait to hug her!”

Him: “Me first!”

Me: “She loves me best!”

Him: “We’ll see about that!”

With all our gushing, we forgot the most important thing – a stint at Grandparent Boot Camp where the motto is, “The Few. The Proud. The Upright.”

At Grandparent Boot Camp, you do squat thrusts from dawn until dusk.

“You wimps think THIS is hard! Wait ‘til you’re squished in some kiddy chair for a tea party!’’ a drill sergeant screams.

At Grandparent Boot Camp, you are familiarized with the operation of a car seat fit for an astronaut.

“Wrong, you idiot!’’ the drill sergeant screams as you fumble with buckles. “Fifty more squats for you!’’

At Grandparent Boot Camp, you take a crash course in complex toys like Potty Time Elmo, whose miniature potty makes realistic sound effects.

At Grandparent Boot Camp, you are immersed in rescue and retrieval so you are ready when a toddler sprints away from you at the mall and does a long jump over another stroller.

“Run you wimps! Run!’’ the drill sergeant screams as you stumble and fall.

Unfortunately, we experienced this very mall escape scenario and it goes without saying that we were not prepared.

“Get her!’’ I yelled at my husband.

“I can’t keep up!’’ he huffed. “Besides, she loves you best, remember?’’

We caught her in the Disney store and then we had to load a cranky, nap-free toddler into a car seat and fill the trunk with a stroller, diaper bag, giant Dora doll, crates of snacks, the stuffed animals of the week, a Minnie Mouse purchased at the mall, plus everything else needed for a 30-minute outing with a 2-year-old.

All without benefit of Grandparent Boot Camp.

Our conversation on the way home was quite different than on the way there.

Him: We’re too tired to drive.

Me: I’ll press the pedal. You steer.

Him: How did we survive our own kids?

Me: We were 25.

Him: Ahh, 25. I miss 25.

Me: This is crazy but when can we go back?

Him: After traction.

Me: And Grandparent Boot Camp?

Him: Definitely  Grandparent Boot Camp.

The time: New Year’s Eve.

The setting: Our house.

The situation: Two middle-aged Baby Boomers who cannot remain awake past 11 p.m. though they desperately want to believe they still can.

But no matter what, our eyelids begin to close well before Leno and refuse to open until dawn. Apparently, we need our beauty sleep so desperately that Mother Nature gives us no say in the matter.

She just steps in and renders us unconscious.

What happened to the good ol’ days? What happened to the good ol’ us?

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, our weekend nights routinely began AFTER Saturday Night Live was over at 1 a.m.

And New Year’s Eve was no different. But now, on Planet Middle Age, things are quite the opposite.

I have my flannel jammies on as soon as the sun goes down, which this time of year is before dinner. And he is slumped over the latest biography of Lincoln while I rally to stay awake for “Glee.’’

The last time I can remember staying awake on New Year’s Eve was to ring in  2000, and that was only because Y2K madness and mayhem were predicted.

If we were going to lose modern civilization, we wanted to be awake for it.

Even with that hanging over our heads the kids were nudging us on the couch because we kept dozing off. They were disgusted that their parents were so old they could not remain awake on such a momentous occasion.

Actually, now that I think about it, they were teenagers then and were pretty much disgusted about everything, especially if it had to do with us.

We could have been leading the New Year’s Eve charge at Times Square and they would have been disgusted about that, too.

At least in 2000, we gave it the old college try. We wore party hats and made onion dip and roused ourselves to shout “Happy New Year!’’ when the ball finally dropped after what seemed like the longest night of our lives.

Since then, we’ve called it an early night and mumbled something about “getting over serious colds’’ when confronted by other middle-agers who party on New Year’s Eve because they go by the Second Childhood Approach to Middle Age.

But this year, we came up with a new scheme. We choose to ring in the New Year according to a different time zone.

We decided on Brazil because their clocks are several hours ahead of our own and because it is the kind of place we are very likely to never visit.

A quiet round of golf in upstate New York is more our speed so this would kill two birds with one stone.

We have no clue how they really celebrate in Brazil.

Based on the pop-up ads we have seen for “Brazilian butt lift’’ exercise routines, it’s probably pretty good.

After all, if they can invent aerobics look make you look like that, they probably can throw a great party.

Besides, just saying we had a Brazilian New Year’s Eve, even if it only means we rang in the New Year a few hours early, sounds lots better than the reality:

Warm jammies, a New Year’s toast with hot cocoa and bedtime before 11.

Watch your fingers!

It’s not clear whether it was the yelp or the spurt of blood from my finger that got the sewing instructor’s attention.

But the look that followed was familiar.

“Oh,’’ it said. “You’re one of those. You sure you want to come back next week?’’

And after the recent episode, where I’d let the sewing machine needle clumsily pierce the tip of the finger, I realized where I’d seen that look before.

It was 40 years ago in the Saturday sewing class at our local public high school.

I had just sewn shut the armholes of the groovy, hot pink and bright orange outfit I was making to rebel against my navy blue Catholic school uniform, a frock designed to made a girl look like a gender-free sack of potatoes.

My sister – a co-pilot in these weekly torture sessions –snickered from behind her sewing machine.

“Oh, you’re one of those,’’ the sewing teacher’s eyes said. “Are you sure you want to come back next week?

We wanted to be home, comfy in our jammies, slurping down bowls full of Lucky Charms and fighting over the lone TV set in the house. We were miserable as we hunched over the sewing machines, but I was determined to show my rebellion through fashion.

Which explains why my project was something that looked like it could have been designed by Timothy Leary after he had eaten “special” brownies.

It had short-shorts and a tunic top – the kind of thing that you see go-go dancers wearing in in old James Bond movies.  It glowed in the dark and it was as different as it could be from my daily, drab outfit.

My sister knew that at some point, our mother would ask what we had made at sewing class so she worked on something far less psychedelic.

I was not good at thinking ahead. I ripped open those arm holes and started again, never giving a thought as to how I would sneak that outfit in and out of the house.

My very first attempt was my undoing. I put it on the next day, slipped out the back door, shouting “Goin’ to church.’’

What mother would question that?

Stupidly, that’s just where I went. By the time I got home, news about my outfit had beaten me. News traveled by something we called a “rotary phone.’’ It hung on the wall. We took turns using it.

When I walked in, Mom was waiting. “Hello Miss Hot Pants,’’ was all she said had to say. Translation: The Timothy Leary outfit was going into the rag pile.

I never touched another needle until recently, when I decided to overcome my fear of sewing, and fight off a mid-life crisis with a fun new hobby – like nearly taking off my finger during the first sewing lesson.

I guess it’s a kind of a revenge of the Sewing Gods.

And, of course, payback from my mother.

Thanks to all who threw in their two cents on anti-aging creams, especially Karen, who led the charge and said she dumped a ton of stuff from her bathroom just the other day.

My old friend Lark said a facelift would have been cheaper than all the moisturizer she’s used over the years.

(Why didn’t my Mom name me something cool like that???)

Anyway, for more laughs about beauty cream, click here to see a hilarious video.

“All the Wrinkled Ladies!” From Comic Anita Renfroe.

Funny stuff!

Turn back the clock!

In the drugstore, I cringe at all the creams that say “ANTI-AGING,”  “ANTI-WRINKLE” and “REVITALIZING.”

I cringe because women of a certain age hate one thing above all else – a reminder that they are women of a certain age.

And as I stand there, I declare: “The only things that are gonna ‘revitalize’ me are an appletini and a hunk of chocolate.”

But then I look both ways to see if anybody’s around and proceed to fill my basket with these promises-in-a-tube.

They go right next to my year’s supply of NUCLEAR STRENGTH ESTRO TABS.

I grumble that the names of  all these things are  so obnoxious, and that they are in big print, but I won’t admit that I couldn’t see them otherwise. Despite the fantasy in my mind, I am not 25 years old. Or 35 or 45 – and 55 is on the horizon.

My sister came upon one of these ill-named beauty creams on a trip out of town last week. She went into the bathroom of her guest and saw a bottle of moisturizer called MENOPAUSE AND BEYOND.

She thought of two things.

1.  Cartoon space guy Buzz Lightyear, who shouts, “TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!”

2.  The marketing twit who made up the name of the cream.

The second thought made her want to hurt something.

Badly.

She went to grab her Raging Hormone Toolkit, which contains a nifty, mini hatchet. She planned to do a Lizzie Borden on that bottle and chop it up to bits.

But she’d left the kit back home. So she did the next best thing. She called me on her cell to report the discovery of  MENOPAUSE AND BEYOND so we could laugh about it.

Me:  How stupid! Why do they think anybody would buy something with that name!

Her:  Who knows? Why not call it LAST DITCH MOISTURIZER?’

Me: I bet a 30-year-old guy thought of it!

Her:  Thirty! I’ll bet he was 20!

Me: Hahahaha!

“Oh,” we both said, “We are sooo clever! How do we stand ourselves!”

Then there was a pause.

Me: Umm…do you think that stuff works?

Her: I’ll let you know. I just slathered it on from head to foot!

She did not call back. I can only take that to mean there was no good news.

I don’t know why that surprises me because where these creams are concerned, there never is any good news.

They might as well all have one name, “GOOD LUCK SUCKER!”

Still, we keep buying and hoping. Buying and hoping.

I suppose if any of these face cream people were smart enough to turn back the clock for good, they’d be working for NASA. Not making useless face cream.

So my sister and I have a message for the makers of MENOPAUSE AND BEYOND if they want to sell more of their product: Take a cue from ol’ Buzz Lightyear.

On your bottle, put a picture of a perspiring, agitated, middle-age woman. Make sure she wears a superhero outfit that looks like it fit her better 10 years ago.

She should raise her fist in the air, and have a balloon over her head that says, “TO MENOPAUSE AND BEYOND! NEXT STOP, THE MORGUE!”

Then we will know that your cream, like all the others, won’t make us young. But at least we’ll get a laugh out of it.

And that, as they say, is priceless.

——–

(If you missed it, click here and check out Kathleen’s new  feature — Funny Stuff This Week!)

The 'No Oreo' Zone

Ladies, think twice before asking your man to put down an Oreo and pick up a carrot.

And be prepared if you want him to give up the Official Man Diet of sugar, fat and salt.

Once he stops eating like a boy and starts eating like a girl, things can get ugly.

I know. It just happened to me.

And instead of living with a middle-aged man who grumbles that his pants are tight as he reaches for the ice cream, I’m living with a middle-aged man who wants to talk about calories and carbohydrates and then drag me out shopping for his new clothes.

Who is this guy? He’s not the husband whose proud eating motto has always been:  “I never eat anything that comes out of the ground!”

Not that I’m unhappy he’s lost weight, feels better and has begun thinking of mushrooms as food and not fungus.

I’ve been lecturing him about these things for 30 years.

But I have plenty of girlfriends who want to know if their butts look OK in everything they wear. I did not count on getting another one now.

Hopefully, his weight loss euphoria will wear off fast.

Really fast.

I can’t stand much more of him lingering in the produce aisle so he can tell me about the wonders of veggies he couldn’t identify until two months ago.

Actually, he’s still confused about some of these.

Last week, he pointed to a cucumber and said, “I’m not sure you’re aware of  this, but spinach is really good for you.

Then he picked up a pineapple and said, “This advocado looks yummy!

The confusion aside, he was never the nutrition Nazi in the house. That was my job.

But who knew he was listening? It was like all those times I said we should spend more time with my relatives.

I’d talk. He’d pretend to listen. Nothing changed.

Dinner table conversation went like this:

Me: “How was your day? Eat the salad.”

”Him: “It was OK. Have we got more fries?”

Me: “Cut back on that stuff.”

Him: “Pass the salt. What’s for dessert?”

A few months ago, when he decided to change, it wasn’t easy. His first week without chocolate, I had to lock him in a room until the hallucinations stopped.

When he emerged, he had a new attitude, a new way of eating and a new interest in how he looked in the mirror.

It’s a lot like having a teenage girl in the house. He’s bubbly.  I’m annoyed.

Him: ”Sugar is evil! Bread has carbs!”

Me: “No kidding, Dr. Oz.”

Not wanting to be a totally bad sport, I did agree to try the diet, too. But this did not work out well because out local Girl Scout showed up with my order of coconut-covered, big-thighs-in-a-box.

I hid them and only stuffed my face when he wasn’t home. It was the least I could do.

He still can’t figure out why he lost 15 pounds and I lost a whopping 1.5, but when he gets over his love affair with string beans, he’ll realize I was fake dieting the whole time.

About the same time, he’ll realize that I was right all those years.

Maybe not about seeing the relatives.

But about broccoli? Dead on.

(If you missed it, click here and check out Kathleen’s new  feature — Funny Stuff This Week!)


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