Losing things doesn’t mean you’re losing it.

I misplace my glasses a lot but it’s not my fault. It’s Hugh Jackman’s fault. I have one pair for seeing close up and another for far away, and I switch them constantly. When I’m walking around with my far glasses on, I often need to read some small print—especially if it’s something important like a photo of a scantily clad Hugh Jackman. I may be 70 but I’m not dead yet. So I have to take off my far specs and put on my close-ups. 

I lost my close-up glasses for two days once. I gave up and made do with my previous prescription pair. Then Frank, my husband, went to get some ice cubes and there were my glasses, in the freezer. And I remembered I had stuck my head in there rummaging around, way in the back, for the Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and put my glasses down so I could see because they were fogging up. I got so excited when I found the Haagen-Dazs I completely forgot about my glasses.

Often I forget to pay attention to where I am when I take off the pair I don’t need, and I have to go looking for those glasses. Sometimes I’m carrying a cup of coffee and I put that down during my search, and after I find my glasses I have to go around looking for my coffee. And so on. 

At seventy the specter of Alzheimer’s always looms when you misplace something. One well-known sign is finding things you’ve lost in strange, inappropriate places. In a public service TV ad about Alzheimer’s, an elderly couple is looking everywhere for something the woman lost, and the man takes a break and goes to the fridge get some cream for his coffee. He removes the pitcher…and car keys are behind it! The mournful, worried look they exchange makes it clear they’re positive the wife has Alzheimer’s. 

I’m not worried. I didn’t even consider the freezer a strange, inappropriate place to lose my glasses. It made perfect sense. The worse thing about the whole affair was that Frank found out I’d been into the Haagen-Dazs.

“… there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” -Matthew 10:26

I searched an entire afternoon for my glasses once, and the cat had them all the time.

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The Sensuous Art of Plum Picking

Plums from our backyard tree are incredibly sweet and juicy. I take them to church and put them in the kitchen, where we munch. If you stand outside the room you’d think they’re having an orgy in there. “Oooooh…ummmm…OMG this is sweet…ahhhhhh…just one more… ”

I wait for the Magic Moment.

It sounds like they’re making love, but they’re just in the kitchen eating plums I hand picked. Actually, “pick” is too crude a word. I don’t just pick them, I caress them. I fondle them. I squeeze each one very gently and if there is a softness, I tug it ever so slightly, tenderly, away from the branch. If it doesn’t come off with this gentle grope, I leave it on the tree. It is not ripe.

My husband is annoyed by all this. Frank is a no-nonsense, just-get-it-done kind of guy. He goes out with his bag and just indiscriminately grabs every plum he sees hanging. He pulls them forcibly, with lightning speed. “You’re coming with me!” I can almost hear him say. He’s done in a jiffy, and comes in the house with a big bag of hard, slightly green plums.

It’s easy to tell whether people are eating plums that Frank picked or that I picked. When they’re eating Frank’s, it doesn’t sound like there’s an orgy going on.  

Support Groups to the Rescue

I’m starting a 12-step support group for people who are addicted to lattes.  There are millions of us, and LA, Latteholics Anonymous, could help us. The only answer for latte addiction is total abstinence. 

She looks calm and happy, but she’s a secret latte addict. She needs Latteholics Anonymous.

It’s the same as for alcohol. I know, because after trying to control my alcoholic drinking on my own for years, I went to AA 30 years ago and I haven’t had a drink since. The 12 steps work! In contrast, I have a friend who tries to cut down her daily lattes to every other day, or just weekends, or whatever, but she always shoots back up to every day.

LA would not only improve her life in general but also her pocketbook. That Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato at Starbucks costs about $4.00. Yikes, that’s $1,500/year. That’s a latta money.

Though I like lattes, my habit isn’t daily—yet. But it could be. I qualify for many 12-step programs. My car used to autonomously steer itself into 7-Eleven parking lots. I would wander inside like a zombie and buy lottery scratch cards, often several times daily. I scratched all my cards off in secret after everyone was in bed. I finally admitted my addiction was controlling my life, and somehow managed to quit cold turkey. But it was comforting to know Gamblers Anonymous was there for me.

After LA gets going, I might start Chocoholics Anonymous. I have that heavenly substance every night, a piece each of Dove plain milk chocolate and caramel milk chocolate. Sometimes I spin out of control and have more than one of each, and maybe a cookie too. I never know when that’s going to happen, I just wake up in the morning and realize it did. It reminds me of how I never knew how many drinks I would have at night.

I make jokes—it’s my survival mechanism—but the truth is I’m profoundly grateful for AA and all the 12-step programs it inspired. In addition to AA, I also went to Al-Anon, for family members of alcoholics of which I am one. I went with my daughter, for help in healing the effects of my drinking on her and on our relationship. I also found help in CoDA, Co-Dependents Anonymous.  

I see how I could easily develop a dependence on support groups. If I’m not careful I’ll end up needing a support group for addiction to support groups. SGRA, Support Group Recovery Anonymous! I’ll get to it after I get LA and CA going.

Senior Discount Trauma

All of a sudden I felt ancient.

Believe it or not, I remember the exact day I got my first senior discount. I remember it because it was a total bummer. I wasn’t a senior yet. 

I suck at math, but when the young man at the register in Michael’s gave me my change I knew something wasn’t right. I had bought items totaling around $35.00 dollars, and gave him $40.00, and got over $10.00 back.

“I shouldn’t be getting this much money back,” I told him, confused. He looked at me blankly. I studied the receipt. 

“What’s this?” I asked him, showing him a credit.

“That’s your senior discount,” he mumbled.

I went into shock. I was fifty-two. In my prime. I hadn’t yet even remotely thought of myself as being old.

“Senior discount?!” I croaked ungracefully. “I’m not fifty-five! Why are you giving me a senior discount!?”

He just stared at me. He was tongue-tied. Then I realized he was scared, and I calmed down and smiled at him. “Well, never mind, young man. I can use the extra money. Thank you, dear.” I forgave him. He didn’t do it on purpose. 

When I got home I felt better after realizing that surely my white hair had caused him to misjudge my age. It must have been that, because certainly everything else about me was youthful. My smooth skin, clear eyes, athletic body…I could go on but don’t worry, I won’t. But the thing is I’m a towhead, of Scandinavian descent, born with white hair. Just like Tiger Woods’s former wife, Elin. And Greta Garbo, au naturel.

Funny how the years change us. Now, 20 years later, I LOVE my senior discounts. I get upset when they don’t give them to me. Bring ‘em on!

The Right Way to Give a Compliment

Their well-meant praise landed with a thud.

My 50-something girlfriends and I were walking along the beach one day when a group of 20-somethings passed us. They looked back at us, smiling, and said, “You guys look great for your age!” 

It was a beautiful compliment that boosted our self-confidence…until they added that bit about age. 

We had been having a perfect time, soaking up sun, cooled by a perfect breeze coming off a sparkling ocean. But our spirits slumped. The sun seemed to darken, the breeze grew cold, the sea dulled.

“How old do they think we are?” we wondered aloud to each other. Fifty? Sixty? Who knew? Maybe they thought we were seventy or eighty. The flattery had fallen flat.

We finally figured out we were putting too much store in what others think. When we got that straight, we bounced back. We look good for ANY age, we agreed assertively as we walked briskly on, shoulders back and heads high, keeping in shape and enjoying the once-again beautiful day.

When you give someone a compliment, you have to stop when you’re ahead. Especially if it involves a group of 50-something women who look great. Period. 

Fifty Shades of Meow

You’d be shocked to know what seethes under this cool exterior.

Cat experts nowadays say that cats can form at least 50 different meows that express a wide range of emotions: love, fear, bliss, distress, loneliness, surprise, shock…and more. It’s been discovered, evidently, that cats produce both consonants and vowels, and this enables complex expression. 

Okay, I lied. The real number of meows according to experts is 30. My title tweak was just too tempting to resist.

I’m pretty skeptical about this. My beloved, now-departed Buttercup had only one meow. It never varied but it meant different things depending on where she was standing. If she was standing by her food bowl and meowed, it meant she was hungry, so I fed her. If she was standing by the patio door and meowed, it meant she wanted to go outside and I let her out. Those were the only two things she ever wanted that I’m aware of. Well, she wanted to sit on my lap a lot but she just jumped up on it and settled in without asking. 

Actually, she did have a second meow, a sort of abrupt, short snarl when she was irritated: for instance, when she wanted more wet food and I didn’t give it to her. She got only a half can of wet food daily, and no more, vet’s orders. After that it was kibble. She did live to twenty, so I think her sensible diet was in her best interests.

I guess, if the experts say so, there must be cats that have a wide repertoire of expression and emotion. But Buttercup wasn’t one of them.  

I miss Buttercup, and her one meow, and even her little snarl. I really miss her cuddling on my lap. She wasn’t much of a conversationalist but I know she loved me. She was just quiet about it.

Amazon, no way!

“Excuse me, where can I find the chocolate truffles?” I asked the sales assistant.

Amazon sucks for buying books. It has to be done properly. I need real-life books to leaf through, chairs to sit on while leafing, and a café that has espresso and chocolates and people to chat with.

A trip to such a bookstore is still one of my favorite outings. These days, in my area, I have a choice between Barnes & Noble, or Barnes & Noble. There’s one 30 miles north of me and one 30 miles south. Fortunately I’m fond of B&N. It’s a survivor, like me. I’m 71 and my friends said I’d never make it this far. I used to drink a lot of wine. Today I eat a lot of chocolate. Yet here I am. 

Yes, I know, B&N is often more expensive than Amazon, even with Amazon’s shipping charges. I suppose I could go to Half Price Books or Rasputin, but they don’t have the café and the chocolate.

I prefer the B&N south of me. Traffic getting there is always heavy and getting heavier, but it’s a lovely drive along a beautiful freeway lined on the east with horses and rolling hills and oak trees and mansions. I cruise along contentedly listening to Tony Bennett – Lady Gaga duets.  

If B&N doesn’t have the book I want, I have them order it. They might even get it from Amazon for all I know, but that’s okay. C’est la vie! At least, that’s life for a plump, book-loving senior lady with a penchant for chocolate truffles and espresso (double long shots), who loves to chat in cafés with all kinds of people. And who still pays cash whenever possible.  

I hope B&N doesn’t suffer the common fate nowadays of brick-and-mortar stores, at least not before I myself float up to the great iCloud. As long as B&N is still with us, Amazon will just have to limp along without me.