What's Not to Laugh?

Almost everything about aging–except grave illness and death–can be funny as well as disturbing. I try to find the funny and help us all get through it!

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

battle of the (morning) bulge

The telltale sign has arrived: I now know for sure that I have to lose weight. But who am I kidding? I knew this nearly two years ago, and it’s only gotten worse. But yesterday’s sign was unmistakable. I changed clothes six times in the morning.

There are many reasons women change clothes before going to work, or anywhere. But for me, multiple changes in the morning mean that whatever I’ve put on either makes me look fat or, even worse, doesn’t fit at all.

I’ve been used to bottoms not fitting every time I’ve put on a few pounds…times two. The bottom half of me is where I usually put on weight. I’ve worn many sizes of pants and skirts. But I was wearing a pair of pants that I’d bought after the weight gain, so I knew they fit. (I didn’t say they looked good. They fit. This generally requires that I wear something longer to cover the overly curvy parts.)

This time it was the tops that were the problem. Tops that had fit me when I bought them but were now clinging revealingly to my midriff. And showing that miserable upper belly bulge—the one the articles always call “dangerous fat.”

So yesterday morning I went from wearing a blue drapey sleeveless top that I had to keep fluffling to prevent its clinging to my mid-section to a green top that seemed to be suddenly clinging too, to an orange one that fit a little looser. But then the neckline of the orange top was higher than the others I had tried on, so I had to remove my necklace and put on one that could be seen.

Then I started in on the jackets to cover the top. Some jackets hit right at the hip—which hides nothing—and some emphasize parts that are not enhanced by emphasis. I finally ended up wearing a jeans jacket that was semi-fitted but swung loosely enough to be flattering.

I apologize if I’m boring you with details, but I can bet there are a lot of you (women) who can identify.

Those who know me but haven’t been able to compare the before (say, about mid-2010) and after will probably exclaim, “You look just as svelte as ever!” But these are people who don’t glance below the belt or who are fooled by my jackets and long shirts that hide the result of too little exercise, too much rich food, and playing Boggle.

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Words get wrinkles too

Do you find yourself using outdated words? Do you talk about those lovely pair of sequined thongs you saw at Macy’s when you mean, in today’s terms, flip-flops? Do younger people think you’re describing bejeweled skimpy underwear? Underwear that hurts in certain places?

In our efforts to not look and sound like old ladies, we need to be mindful of the changes not only in technology, but in words that describe new technology and sometimes items that have been around, in some form, for ages.

Do you go shopping for pedal pushers? I hope not. I hope, if you wear that length pants at all, you are on the hunt for capri pants. (Personally, I don’t like that length on me and go either shorter—Bermudas—or longer—ankle pants.)

Have you gone into Sephora or Ulta looking for rouge? Did the young woman behind the counter smile sweetly at you and ask “Oh, you mean blush?”

Have you ever asked a young person whether he is in junior high? Did you get a cold stare in response? And did his mother rush to his side and say “Bobby’s in middle school”? (Since writing this, I did see a local newspaper article about a suburban school that is called junior high, so take this one with a grain of salt…unless you’re on blood pressure meds.)

There are names for many things that will instantly age you: Kleenex, Frigidaire, Mixmaster, all trade names that became household words—in the 50s. Use them to apply to any other brand of those items, and you might as well be saying, in a croaking voice, “Back in my day…”

Have you found yourself telling someone you have a “beauty shop” appointment? The updated name is “salon.” The same goes for that person who works on your hair. If you talk about your “beauty operator,” let it be known that, in modern times, they like to be referred to as “stylist” or “colorist.” (So many people want to be an “ist” these days.)

I’m not suggesting we try to communicate on the same level as Generation X or Y or the Millenials. We could never keep up. Every day I see a photo of yet another young celebrity in the newspaper (singer? band member? actor/actress?) and when I read his or her name, my reaction is “Who?” And the names of popular songs are just as unfamiliar. But we do need to keep our ears open for word trends—except the ones that come and go so quickly you’d get whiplash if you tried to pay attention.

Even the benign “I’ll call you later” would make us sound ancient to the youngest generation for whom calling has been replaced by texting. So this could be a battle we could never win. Or, I should say, a perception we could never dispel. A perception that our generation is so out of it, we belong on another planet. But maybe another planet wouldn’t be such a bad idea…especially if it were populated by people who never said “No prob!” and “Whazzup?” and didn’t roll their eyes when we call something by a 20th century name.

How much (trouble) is that doggie in the window?

    I haven’t given up on wanting to adopt a little dog. I am realistic that this could be either the stupidest thing we’ve ever done or a smart move. So I’ve compiled two lists: one for Stupid and one for Smart. (Even if Stupid has the most entries, I still want to adopt a little dog.)

    Decidedly Stupid

    • We’re already starting to count our pennies in our retirement and semi-retirement stage of life. Do we really need another expense? Vet bills, dog food, dog treats, leashes…
    • We live in a townhome with a very tiny patio and no back yard. The patio is paved with bricks. No grass = no place to poop.
    • I love my peacock blue velvet chair. I don’t think dog hair would add to its charm.
    • I dislike standing out in the cold. I watch my dog-owner neighbors shivering out in the back of our complex, waiting for Snuggles or Rex to do their business and am glad I can retreat into my warm home at any time.
    • I’m not really a “dog person.” I love them and think they’re adorable, loyal, amazing. But I’ve had minimal experience with a dog, and it didn’t go well. (There were extenuating circumstances. And it was in 1963.)
    • Did I mention expenses? I thought of a few more: dog crate, dog bed, obedience school…
    • I hate the idea of muddy pawprints on hardwood and tile. Will I have to wipe off the paws after every rainy day outing? Do obedience schools teach the command “Wipe your feet!”?
    • My husband has allergies. There are non-allergenic dogs, like poodles, and his response is always, “How about a cat?” Don’t dwell on the lack of logic in that. Just know that he had cats for many years and survived.

    Exceedingly Smart

    • I’ve read that just petting a dog can lower your blood pressure. Just think what cuddling up with one could do for our health? (Take some points off here for BP that shoots through the roof when the little darling pees all over the just-cleaned carpet.)
    • Having to walk the dog several times a day would solve my “I hate to exercise” problem. There’s no motivation like a whining dog, threatening to make a mess if you don’t take action.
    • My pet might break me of the habit of spending my non-working hours playing Boggle, Word Solitaire, and Word Warp. I may be learning new and interesting words, but I’ve also gained at least 15 pounds, propping myself up in bed tapping the iPad.
    • Most important of all: Dogs adore their owners and shower them with unconditional love and devotion. Wait…isn’t that what my husband is for?

    There you have it. Stupid wins. And I’ve learned something from this exercise. I want to adopt a little dog. Maybe.

A non-pressing issue

The other day, a couple of coworkers and I were talking about ironing. No, I don’t work at the most boring place on earth. We just happened to be standing near the water fountain gabbing, and the ironing conversation rose out of the oohs and aahs over a lovely blouse one of us was wearing. As most women do when faced with a compliment, she deflected it and said, “I should have ironed it; I’m wearing this jacket over it so you don’t see the wrinkles.”

That’s when I chimed in with my latest mantra: “Iron is a four-letter word.”

I can’t remember the last time I ironed anything. I’ve steamed a few pairs of pants with the upright steamer. You know how they get those horizontal creases when you sit for long periods? I used to steam them away, knowing that as soon as I got into the car, they’d be back. Now I don’t even do that.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that, if something comes out of the dryer needing ironing, it hangs untouched in my closet for months…even years. I just never get around to hauling out the board, plugging in the steam iron, and proceeding to add more creases to the sleeves of a shirt than it had when I started. So one obvious reason for my dislike of ironing is that I’m no good at it.

Please understand: It’s not that I don’t care if my clothes are wrinkled. I can’t stand wrinkles, whether they’re on my forehead, my neck, or my jeans and shirts. My clothing needs today are well-satisfied with knits and stretchy items that look fine if I grab them just at the end of the dryer cycle, smooth them, and hang them promptly. For not-so-cooperative items, there’s the dry cleaner.

Today I’m wearing a white shirt that is a good blend of fabrics, along with some stretch. It comes out of the dryer looking good—except for the button placket on the front, which looks a little “bubbly.” I assessed myself in the mirror this morning and decided that, if you take a quick look at it, it resembles the puckered look that’s so in today. Believe me, that was better than invoking the four-letter word again.

What’s all this got to do with aging? Here’s the connection. At my age, I’m not embarrassed to say I hate ironing and am dreadful at it. I am who I am. I’m a product of the 50s, and I used to feel that if I failed in any task that was related to homemaking, I failed in life. I’ve never been a balabusta (Yiddish for good homemaker). So I wasn’t keen on admitting my inability to carry out those basic duties. And if I wanted to emulate my mother, I had a long way to go. She was a great cook, you could eat off her floors, and she ironed my father’s boxer shorts.

But now, who cares? Besides, culture changes and technologies have made doing so many daily tasks a choice, not an obligation.

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