Sunday, July 20, 2008

How the other half LIVES

July is my birth month. I have always liked being a summer baby. This July I will be a summer baby for the 50th time...


I have never really dreaded a birthday because I strongly feel growing older is much better than the alternative.
I have always been okay with whatever age came before this one. However, my upcoming birthday, I admit, bugs me a little. I think it is that half-CENTURY mark that is tripping me up. I still feel like I just got out of high school, and as long as I don't pass a mirror or go to a reunion my mind can almost pull it off.
Lately, I've spent a great deal of time taking a look at life and everyone in the ages above and below me. A few years back my college dance teacher, a famous and fabulous person was retiring and a big hoopla get-together was planned at my Alma mater. My college roommate, Patti and I were planning to rendezvous there and relive some good times. Before she left home her husband teasingly asked her if she was planning to have a fling with any of the guys at the reunion. She aptly replied, "If I didn't want them when they were young, handsome and virile, what makes you think I want them now that their old, fat and bald.
Makes you think, doesn't it?
The point I am getting to is one that has been repeated ever since people started hitting landmark birthdays - you are as young as you feel. Or as your spirit feels.
I was blessed to have my paternal grandmother in my life well into her eighties. She had many wrinkles on her round little face, and everyone of them old me a story of how she lived her life; came to America; married, raised her 5 children; watched the men in her family go off to 3 different wars; welcomed her daughters-in-law; adored her many grandchildren; buried her husband and her daughter before her and then went off to heaven to meet up with those she missed. Her face was absolutely beautiful. Her hands, though lined and spotted were softer than anything I have ever touched. And, best of all - her laugh was that of a giggly little girl. And she laughed a lot.
So, please do me a favor. As a birthday present to me, be good to yourself, whatever birthday you are at. Put down the Botox; cancel the plastic surgeon and please have a piece of birthday cake. Let people know that you are alive and show the wonderful years of joy and sadness that created who you are.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Strife in the "Fast Lane"

It was only a few items for a picnic. The rest of the check out lanes were backed up like I94 out of Chicago on rush hour. I spotted the FAST lanes. An innocent looking row of self-check out lanes where you do all the scanning and bagging yourself. Brilliant. I'd be out in no time. I even had my trusty 12 year old son there to assist me.

Alex and I began scanning items and it was only then that I realized I was checking out on HAL, the computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

My first item went through benignly. Then I made the mistake of trying to enter the PLU on the produce. You know, the little sticker that is supposed to be keyed to the price. Well, as soon as I entered it the whole machine lit up like a jackpot at a casino and a gnarly looking attendant came to fix it. He punched in a bunch of codes, gave us a nasty look and left without a word. We tried the peaches next. BIG mistake. Same response, same ugly attendant. I wondered why he didn't just stay there and check out my last few items - but that would mean it wasn't... the FAST lane.

We tried scanning and bagging faster to make the machine happy but it kept droning on at us in that non-human voice saying that there was "a foreign object in the bagging area". What foreign object? Was it peas? This was a grocery store for Pete's Sake how could peas be foreign. I began to look around for the zebra that passed in front of the scanner, or possibly a UFO - something I could accept as foreign.

Then the diabolical machine began a new type of torture. With each item I tried to scan it asked me to punch in "skip bagging" before I could move on. I'll bet you can guess what I really wanted to punch.

In a mere half an hour (!) we got through the last item and paid. As we turned with our one measley bag to walk away, a sadistic, mechanical voice behind us said,

"Thank you for using the Fast lane".