Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Stop Calling Me Ma'am!!

Stop Calling Me “Ma’am!”

Because in Hollywood: 2 + 3 = “Sharknado 5.” Kate + 8 = “Television.” And… Actress + 40 = “DEAD.”

Stop calling me, “Ma’am!”

When I tell people how old I am, the common response is, “Really?” accompanied by a slight gasp and an eyebrow raised in suspicion.
Embarrassed, they quickly add, ”You look great!” as their voices trail off with that tell-tale (dot, dot, dot) which means I know what they’re really thinking, “You look great…for your age.”
They seem incredulous that someone “my age” isn’t lying prone on a Carnival Cruise deck chair recalling the revolutionary impact of control top pantyhose while eating a 7 course meal — through a straw. So perhaps hearing “You look great! (dot, dot, dot) should be considered a compliment. I’d raise an eyebrow in suspicion of that theory but I’ve had so much Botox I can’t move anything above my knees.
By the way, I’m 55. There, I said it. And there you are with your facile forehead saying, “You look great!” (dot, dot, dot) Thanks. I think.
An embroidered pillow on my bed reads “Aging Gracefully Is Overrated.” I believe that’s true. And, I believe I need to get over it. By “it” I mean my — and perhaps all of society’s expectations of where my life should be by now.
Let’s not get started on where my butt and boobs should be. If they keep sinking, I’ll need a Navy Seal to dredge them up. Hmmm…what a fantastic idea. “Hello, Sailor!”
So taking this all in I channel my 70’s inspired, yet delusional, Helen Reddy goals. By “this age” I was supposed to be roaring and soaring — managing my 401k, winning a 10k, all while maintaining a size six with bowls of Special K.
None of this has happened.
So, today my choices are to find a way to feel good about my accomplishments — or not. I can accept my life “at this age” while shouting “I’m 55 and Fabulous!” as I wave my AARP card for 15 cents off a McDonald’s coffee — or not. I can don stretch capri pants and let my hair go gray like Jamie Lee Curtis in a yogurt commercial — or not.
I choose “or not.”
I’ve lied about my age since I was 40, shaving off five years knowing I could pull it off which worked until I turned 45
Ageism hit me hardest at the gym when I found myself lying to the elliptical machine. It would prompt: Input program: (1) Walk in the Park — nope, too easy. (2) Run Up Big Hills — nope, too hard. (3) Lie Through My Teeth About My Age. Bingo! I press 3. Then it prompts: “Input weight.” I cover the LED with my hand like I’m shielding my pin number at an ATM as I enter the ungodly number.
Then it prompts, “Input Age.” What’s that got to do with bobbing up and down on a machine? By the time I pound the numbers 55 into the machine my time is up and another gym member is waiting. “Great workout! It’s all yours!” I say to Barbie as I mop my brow and collect my dignity — and my More magazine.
I stopped denying my age the day I found out I had a Wikipedia page. It was put together by some over-eager yet well-meaning cyber geek who’s apparently one of the six viewers of my TV host stint on Game Show Network. Right there on the World Wide Web is my birthdate glaringly displayed for the entire universe to see.
It’s not hard to edit a Wikipedia page — believe me it’s not if I can do it. But every time I went online and shaved five or six years off my birthdate, this unseen “Julian Assange” went back and restored it.
How does Mr. Wiki-Stalker know I’ve changed it anyway? And why does he care that I’m so emotionally immature I can’t bear to see the numbers 1–9–6–1 lined up in that order?
Besides, MY Wikipedia page is about MY life. I can fake, forge or revise my own damned history, thank you very much. Who is this basement dwelling Wiki-Weirdo? This pleather-belt-wearing, mouth-breather who’s cutting and pasting my life on some makeshift encyclopedia? Who has that kind of time?
Okay, confession. I do Google myself — occasionally. Maybe because it’s much easier to look at photos of my younger self than face the face I see in the mirror now — the one with the jowls of life.
It is really crazy how crazy I can let my age make me. And it is just a number, right? Which I’m sure is how my silent editor feels as he posts what he decides are “Just the facts, Ma’am.”
Stop calling me Ma’am!! Being called Ma’am is like hearing, “Hey, aging lady with a coupon for chocolate calcium chews who’s buying Fresca and writing a check, how are you today, Ma’am?”
I blame modern technology for making us all so self-aware and too self-important. Why else do we constantly check email, texts, Tweets, Facebook and Wikipedia? Is it to reaffirm our existence and our worth? Or is it to find a Groupon coupon for half off some modern technology that can make us look half our age?
Is anyone else tired right now? I am. But then, I’m 55. I had much more energy last year. Yet, I so want the oomph to embrace my age, my aging and technology’s grasp on my truth.
Perhaps I should get rid of that pithy little pillow and learn to age gracefully because it is, after all, “Just the facts, Ma’am. Just the facts.”
Which I’m jiggy with it…on one condition... that you stop calling me Ma’am!

The Day My Therapist Fell Asleep...Should I Get a Discount or Get a Life?

Every April 15th, I, like most good US citizens, fill out my tax forms and list my occupation as “Entertainer.”

Unlike accountants, gynecologists or coal miners, being an “Entertainer” can mean having a myriad of careers as an actor, singer, dancer, comic, writer, artist or any hyphenated combo of those.

Entertainer also includes street performers like those freaky frozen living statues, chainsaw jugglers or city kids pounding out percussion on plastic buckets. Oh, let’s not leave out New York’s famed “Naked Cowboy” who struts around Times Square playing the guitar wearing only a pair of tightie-whities, cowboy boots, and a ten-gallon hat. Call him crazy, but this crazy guy rakes in about $150,000 a year in tips from tourists who’ve only had, up till this moment, the excitement of getting their picture taken with the Easter Bunny at their local mall.
*NOTE TO READER: I have not included “reality stars” in the entertainment category out of personal disdain for their misleading oxymoron of a moniker. These stagnations of humanity, i.e. ALL the Kardashians, the Housewives, the Honey Boo-Boos, the Duck Dynasty Douchebags and ALL of the Duggers (and that’s a lot of Duggers), etc., do not exist in any form of reality in my world. They alone, and collectively, have no discernible talent to deign them a “star.” I hold the Naked Cowboy and his ilk in higher regard. At least he can play the guitar.

How is it then, that after 30 years of earning a living and paying taxes as an “Entertainer” that I can single-handedly lull my $150 an hour therapist to sleep?
No, he wasn’t just closing his eyes to better focus on my weekly “woe is me” diatribe and self-absorbed whining. This guy actually nodded off. I’m talking full chin to chest. Then I watched his lower lip, succumbing to gravity, fall limp. His pen rode a slow motion descent from his finger’s sleepy grip.
I had to assume he was in that first stage of sleep — which I Googled while he dozed.

It’s considered a very light sleep from which one is easily awakened. So I decided to blow my nose — gently. I just wanted to get his attention back on the task at hand…listening to my bullshit. But hey, it’s my bullshit. And, it’s real for me. Why else would I be blowing $150 an hour on therapy and not on the latest Nordstrom Rack deal?
My subtle nose blowing roused him. I pretended to be mopping up a case of the sniffles so he wouldn’t guess I’d witnessed his brief nap. He pushed his glasses back up his nose, retrieved his pen from the floor and jumped right back in, “So, how are you doing with your insomnia?”

“Not quite as good as you” started to form on my lips, but I controlled myself. Barely.

If this were the first time I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. Dear God, if I had to listen to people like me all day I’d need a nap — or maybe a bullet in the head. But it wasn’t the first time. And I guessed that if I didn’t get more “entertaining” it wouldn’t be the last.

I remember going to the beach for a girl’s day with a friend who is a therapist. I was so proud of her winning struggle to put herself through grad school which landed her a job working at a prestigious celebrity-studded rehab.

Yet, on our beach day, there she was, unloading a tote bag full of tabloid magazines onto the blanket. There they were…the Kardashians, the Boo-Boos, the Housewives… all those “entertainers” I refused to acknowledge above.

“Are those for research?” I asked since her clients often graced the covers of these rags.

“God no! It’s my day off.”

“So…you’re going to read them…for fun?”

“Marianne, do you have any idea what I listen to in my office hour after hour, day after day? Yes, I know it’s my job. But you try listening to people whining about their problems and how tough their lives are. It’s exhausting.”

“Yeah, I guess that would be exhausting.”

As she thumbed through the “Mama June’s Revenge Weight Loss” issue of US Magazine, I asked, “So, have you ever, you know, dozed off during a session? I mean even for a little bit?”

“Oh, my god, yes! At least a couple of times — that I remember.”

“That you remember?!”

Now she was on a roll. “Once, I nodded off and only woke up when I let out one of those loud snorts. Wow! That snapped me back to life. It was embarrassing but pretty hilarious.”

“You were snorting? Actually snorting?”

“My client didn’t even notice. When I came to she was still ranting about her blackouts…didn’t miss my blackout for a minute.”

With this in mind, I arrived at my next therapy session determined to entertain Dr. Freud. Keep him fully alert.

I’d already decided it would be my last session and I wanted to go out with a bang.
So I channeled my inner New York Naked Cowboy. I entered his office wearing a pair of tightie-whities, cowboy boots, and a ten-gallon hat — and, yes, donning a tube top to cover my backup singers. I strummed a kiddie guitar while I sang George Benson’s “On Broadway.”

I got a one-man standing ovation.

And, after signing my autograph on a check, I booked my next gig…on the couch… entertaining my therapist. (Note to reader: Yes, this was Photoshopped. Damn.)