Kathleen Norton

Archive for the ‘women’ Category

What's not to love?

OK people, get ready for a stroll down movie memory lane.

If it’ll help, grab some popcorn and chase it down with Ginkoba.

In honor of the upcoming Academy Awards, let me know your favorite all-time movie from the ’60s or ’70s. We’ll share here – and in my newspaper column for the Poughkeepsie NY Journal.

You probably don’t even have to think that hard about it.

Saturday Night Fever? Jaws? Love Story? Carrie? M*A*S*H? Easy Rider? The Godfather? The Way We Were? The Graduate?

It may be the first movie you saw with the old “M’’ rating, or the first one you saw with the guy or gal who’d be “The One.’’

It may be the movie you saw four times in a theater that had only one movie showing at a time.

Remember when everybody going into a theater at the same time was there to see the same film?

To get things rolling, this baby boomer will reveal her all-time favorite movie.

It’s the one I have seen at least 45 times – three times when it first came out – but most of my viewings have been on TV.

I simply can’t click past it. I have to stop whatever I’m doing, put my feet up and watch Rocky Balboa beat the you-know-what out of a side of beef before he gets you-know-what pounded out of him in the boxing ring.

I love the movie so much I even watch the sequels – even the one when they kill off Adrian, who of course is on the receiving end of my all-time favorite movie line: “Yo Adrian!’’

Ok, it’s not Shakespeare. But I’m a sucker for an underdog and Rocky led the pack in that category. He still does.

I mean come on, how many barely literate tough guys can melt a girl’s heart simply by introducing her to a couple of pet turtles named “Cuff and Link.’’

And don’t get me started on the “Rocky’’ theme song. One bar and I’m jogging up the nearest flight of steps and at the top, doing the slow-motion Rocky jumping dance.

It used to get laughs in our house. But after 24,867 performances, they don’t even look up.

“Go ahead,’’ they say. “Knock yourself out. We’ll wait.’’

A couple of years ago, we went to Philadelphia and I hit pay dirt. I found a shop that sold Rocky paraphernalia only.

They even sold a fleece throw blanket featuring the scene where Rocky beats up that bloody meat. How’d you like to snuggle with that on the couch?

I had to be dragged out of the shop against my will and don’t remember seeing the Liberty Bell though I am told we went there on that trip.

BTW, the picture you see here is what’s on my favorite T-shirt.

So now you know my favorite movie from the ’60s and ’70s – and possibly of all time. How about the rest of you?

Send them in lickety-split. To get inspired, click here for some scenes from the original Rocky!



Shock and awe

Our wool hats and scarves are barely tucked away and KAPOW!

Every clothing store on earth has put out racks of little, bitty, colorful bathing suits that assault us when we walk in the door.

It’s the fashion version of “shock and awe’’ and I ask:

Must they remind us that soon, all women no matter how tall, short, narrow or wide begin a period of ritual self-loathing also known as Swimsuit Season?

If a woman’s hefty, she thinks every suit makes her look heftier. If she’s scrawny, she thinks they make her look scrawnier.

And men do not get it why bathing suits make us suffer so.  They just don’t.

Oh sure, they complain about a little flab here and there. They may look in the mirror when they are 62 and come to this startling realization: OMG! I am not a young man anymore!

But for the most part, they float along, not caring how they look in a bathing suit except for when at 20-year-old chick walks by at the beach.

This concern passes quickly and soon they are back to bathing suit la-la land, which explains why you see guys in little Speedos when their little Speedo days are obviously over.

A man would wear the same swimsuit from age 20 to 70 if his wife did not stop him.

“You’re not getting on that ship for our anniversary cruise in the bathing suit you wore on our honeymoon!’’ the woman says.

“But those trunks are only 35 years old!’’ he replies.

“I have crow’s feet older than that. Get a new one,’’ she orders and he goes to the store and buys the first one he sees.

For the woman, it’s not the same.

She would not be caught dead in an old suit because she thinks that like every other one she’s owned, it looks bad on her.

So the woman goes to the store for a new one and tries on 483 swimsuits.

She repeats this ritual in 13 other stores, which if you are keeping track, is 6,279 swimsuits taken on and off.

Then she orders 146 more online and has to pay to send all of them back because none are right.

Now she has tried on 6,425 suits, spent $1,460 on return shipping, and adds “buy wig’’ to the To-Do List because she’s pulled out her hair in frustration.

After a good cry and a vow to undo damage from a late-winter delivery of Girl Scout cookies, she starts again.

Eventually, she finds a suit she likes. Loosely translated in women-speak this means she hates it less than the others.

On the cruise, he thinks he looks great – guy gut and all. She hardly dares to breath and let out her stomach.

Turns out the “tummy control’’ tag that came with her suit, and every suit these days, is propaganda worthy of the old Communist Party.

Which takes us back to those racks of bathing suits in all the stores.

Ladies, we could let them get the best of us again this year. Or, we could buy them up and have a spectacular polyester bonfire.

Matches, anyone?

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.

As beefcake photos go, it was not the most revealing.

The subject was covered from the neck down in pants, a winter coat and a scarf.

He also sported minor jowls, a head of hair that is surely dyed and lines around his eyes that crinkled like tissue paper.


He looked so good that I did not mind if my neighbors saw me standing at the mailbox gawking at Robert Redford, an AARP Magazine cover boy.

Normally, I would stuff the magazine under my jacket, run into the house and say loudly, “Look! They put this stupid thing in our box again by accident!’’

Then my husband would say, “Guess that AARP card in your wallet is there by accident, too.’’

But not this time. There was no discussion at all. Not with those blue eyes staring back at me from the front page.

Who cared if anybody saw me at the box as the music swelled inside my head and Barbra Streisand began the lyrics to “The Way We Were.’’

Me and Bob were in a time warp, and there was no escape.

It was the 1970s and I was one of three teenage girls huddled in a tiny bedroom, plotting a huge undertaking:

Convincing our mothers that we were old enough to see the new Redford-Streisand movie.

That was Plan A.

Our Plan B was the usual – fib to our mothers, sneak in and see the movie anyway.

It was rated “M’’ for mature audiences, which meant you didn’t have to show any proof of age but you had to be ‘’mature,’’ which was up to your parents.

Up to then, we were seeing movies that featured cartoon characters, talking or flying cars and singing nuns.

Now we were asking to see a movie that might have a scene where a man and woman were in a room with a bed.

Our mothers surely did not think we were “mature’’ enough to handle that and they were already mad about one thing or another.

So they did the worst thing that mothers can do. They conferred with each other.

There’s only one thing worse than a suspicious mother: A suspicious mother who calls in reinforcements.

We don’t know what they said to each other, but our imaginations ran wild.

One mother might say she’d heard there were love scenes involving Robert Redford. The second mother would confirm this. The third mother could suggest that the girls were forbidden but the three of them should go and not tell.

We were in a panic. What if that really happened? Now we were afraid of Plan B (fibbing and sneaking) because we may run into our mothers.

Talk about a pickle.

As expected, we were told we could not go. We enacted Plan B anyway. We figured Redford was worth the risk. And he was. That smile practically melted the theater screen.

Whether our mothers snuck around on us, too, we never found out. But I sure hope so now that I know what it’s like to raise teenagers.

Today, everyone in this story is on the AARP mailing list – mothers and daughters alike – and history is repeating itself.

We’re all in a trance, this time at our mailboxes, thanks to Robert Redford.

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.

LaLanne success story

His only props were tight pants, great abs, a German shepherd named “Happy” and a chair.

Always a chair.

Combined with his personality, they gave him the staying power to be the star of the longest running fitness show in TV history.

Boomers, you know who I mean. He was a fixture on the black and white TVs of our childhoods.

Sometimes our mothers did squat thrusts and push-ups along with him. Sometimes they contorted their mouths as part of his anti-aging face workout.

Sometimes, they just stared.

Cigarettes and coffee cups in hand, they put down the laundry basket or the mop and the vacuum and sat on the couch, watching him bend and stretch.

Their staring seemed odd to us kids.

Why did our mothers stop everything? Why did they pause in their rants about the Idiot Box? Why did the act like zombies at a certain time of day?

It made no sense.

Later, we understood. Jack LaLanne was that kind of guy.

Wavy-haired, muscular and clean cut, he did jumping jacks to corny music and urged America’s housewives to cure themselves of “pooped-out-itis.’’

He was the boy-next-door and a fantasy gym teacher all rolled into one.

“You can do it!’’ he’d cheer. “Get up on your feet!’’

And if you were watching, you thought that you could.

Even if you were watching with a ring of smoke around your head and a cup of caffeine on your lap while your kids ate heaping bowl of Frosted Flakes with Ring Ding chasers.

For decades, Jack was called the “godfather’’ of fitness though by the time he died last month at age 96 you’d have to say he was more like the great-great grandfather of the fitness movement because of how many followed his TV footsteps.

Do you think Leotard Queen Jane Fonda’s or Gush Master Richard Simmons would have made it without Jack? Bob Greene? Denise Austin? Chuck Norris? Dr. Oz?

They owe him big time. And don’t think for a second that the “The Biggest Loser’’ doesn’t owe Jack for planting the TV seed for all the shows to come about fitness and second chances.

Jack did it without gimmicks or any shtick.

He had no sexy dancers mimicking his moves, no movie star status to cash in, no tropical beach as his backdrop and no machines doing the work.

He had only an anatomy chart he’d point to on TV, a common sense workout and an amazing personal childhood story.

Did you know that our energetic, smiling Jack once tried to attack his brother with a knife and set his house on fire?

That after he’d been thrown out of school his desperate mother took him to a lecture on the benefits of healthy eating?

That lecture changed everything. He went from sugarcoated teen to exercise impresario, advising vigorous workouts and body building regimens.

Some called him a crackpot but Jack had the last laugh on national television. Maybe he’s the reason so many Boomers have an age-defying attitude? We had a good teacher.

So rest in peace, Jack LaLanne. We’ll remember your style. We’ll remember your advice. We’ll remember your pants.

And we’ll remember your chair, too.

This 'vintage' roast is delicious!

Marriage vows are heavy on the “L’’ word, which is all fine and dandy.

“I love you. You love me. ‘Til death do us part. Yada, yada, yada.”

But does anyone mention the other “L’’ word? The one that has been known to wreak havoc on marriages since the beginning of time?

I refer to “leftovers’’ – last night’s meatloaf, Monday’s pot roast, Saturday’s spaghetti.

Toss or save? Reheat or chuck?

How a bride and grooms works out those dilemmas tells more about their compatibility and odds of surviving marriage than any Love Quiz that Cosmo Magazine can invent.

Yet, nobody warns them that the honeymoon period for every couple ends the night they find themselves going head to head in front of the fridge over 9-day-old lasagna.

One thinks that lasagna is ”vintage.” The other thinks it is fungus.

One argues: ‘“We’ve got to stretch the food budget.’’ The other replies: “Yes, but food is not Spandex.’’

It is a story as old as time.

It’s well documented that a cave woman invented fire solely so she could warm up last night’s din-din.

But her caveman had other ideas.

“Old meat bad!’ he roared when the remains of a wooly mammoth roast became a minced mammoth casserole.

“Old meat good!’’ she roared back. “And if you don’t like it, invent a PBJ. Knock yourself out!’’

Sadly, things have not changed much and “tossers” always seem to end up marrying “savers.”

Leftovers are always a sore subject in our house, and I wish pre-marital counseling had broached this touchy topic.

We could have done “rock-paper-scissors’’ on other things – like whether we wanted to bring other humans into the world or who would control the checkbook.

In those areas, things have turned out fine.

But we’ve never been able to find a middle ground on the nights when I wanted to toss every leftover in the fridge into one big bowl, add grated cheese and dig in.

I will admit that early in our marriage, I gave my leftover creation an unfortunate name.

“It’s ‘Garbage Salad,’ ‘’ I chirped, thinking I was so clever. “Yum!’’

“I cannot eat anything with the word ‘garbage’ in it,’’ he pronounced and knew he had married a woman who enjoyed the very thing that made him gag: Unidentifiable aging food in little plastic containers.

You should see us on “Clean Out The Fridge Day.’’

“Save,’’ I say to everything. “Toss,’’ he says at the same time.

It’s a real hoot.

We’ve tried to adjust. I’ve gotten better at hiding leftovers in creative dishes, casseroles and soups. And he’s gotten better at throwing leftovers away when I am out of the house.

So let this be a warning to all the young couples out there.

Go on and talk about future kids. Talk about money.

Talk where you’ll go on Thanksgiving and whether her mother can clean the bathroom every time she visits.

But for the sake of your love, don’t forget to work this out, too:

Just how many encores are acceptable for the Sunday chicken dinner.


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