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 “October, 2015”

The Q-tip caper

I may go broke over Q-tips. Okay, I’m exaggerating. But something my clever, conniving cat is doing is certainly costing me a little more.

Everyone thinks his or her pet is the smartest, cutest, fastest, most loyal…you name it. But I know our cat, if not the smartest, is in the top ten. Penelope invented a game to keep herself occupied. It’s usually played while I’m in the bathroom, getting ready in the morning or preparing to go to bed in the evening. She’s developed the habit of sitting on the counter watching me wash my face, brush my teeth, and put on makeup. What really fascinates her is the sink. When I turn on the water, she comes very close. Once the water drains, she’ll even put her paws in the wet bowl. But that soon loses its power of engagement. Then the game begins.

Penelope loves Q-tips. I’m not sure why except that they’re sticks (she likes sticks) and have cute little white fluffy globs on each end. I use these swabs to fix eyeliner that’s traveled to the corner of my eyes or mascara that’s smeared on my lid because I’m not getting any younger and my eyesight is waning. If I leave a Q-tip on the counter, she spots it right away. Then she’ll creep over to it and either knock it on the floor or take it in her mouth. In both cases she jumps off the counter and begins to play.

She’s discovered that it’s fun to push the Q-tip under the bath rug and then burrow under the rug to retrieve it. At first, when I saw her trying to get the Q-tip out, I thought she’d accidentally pushed it under the rug, so I helped her by bringing it out. That wasn’t what she wanted. Later, I watched the procedure from the beginning. She was actually pushing it under only to attack the rug to get it out.

This game involves more than one Q-tip. She’s a Q-tip hoarder. One morning, I was about to take a shower and I wanted to straighten out the bath mat. I lifted it and shouted, “Oh, my goodness” at what I saw. I must have shouted a little too exuberantly, because my half-awake spouse called out from the bedroom, “What happened?”

“Nothing important; go back to sleep,” I replied. “But I found 6 Q-tips under the bath mat.”

Penelope's game, step by step.I was running low on Q-tips, and I needed to nip this in the bud (pardon the pun). So the next time I needed one, I used one side of it and then hid it among the cords leading to my lighted magnifying mirror and my Water-Pik. (Getting older requires additional appliances as well as numerous lotions and creams.) Penelope appeared on the counter, as if by magic, mimicking the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. And just like that, she nosed through the cords and uncovered the Q-tip. I needed a better plan.

I decided to hide the half-used tip in the box that holds my daily makeup and skin care needs, which I take out from under the sink when I need it.  I jammed the Q-tip in among the brown, gray, black, and even purple eyeliner pencils—many of which I never use. This worked well for a couple of days. But yesterday morning I stepped out of the bathroom for a few seconds. When I returned, the pencils were in their usual formation, but the Q-tip was gone. Then I saw it on the rug, Penelope standing guard and looking wide-eyed and innocent. “Mrrrow” was all she could say in her defense. “Tell it to the judge,” I told her, and then took a new Q-tip out of the package.

Disclaimer: No cotton swabs were harmed during these incidents. Or maybe just a few. Also, in case Unilever’s attorneys come knocking on my door, I am actually using the Q-tip® brand cotton swabs. They’re the best!

My baggage has baggage

This updated rerun (originally published in April 2010) is in honor of a dear friend who’s taking her first trip to Europe later this month. I’ve given her packing advice over the last few weeks, and, as the post below will prove, I have no business passing on my bad habits to the innocent.

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I’m a pack rat. But not the hoarding kind that seems to be—inexplicably—popular on reality TV. My inability to stop adding things to my stash takes over only when I go on a trip. I’m not a novice traveler. Through my job (earlier, when I was full-time), I’ve gone to conferences in Europe, Asia, and South America—even as far as Perth, Australia. I’m sure most people think I have the packing thing all wrapped up, so to speak.

I still struggle with it every time I travel anywhere.

Several days ahead, I start loading my carry-on bag, and here’s where I get a little obsessive. It’s important to note that I don’t like to fly. It gives me comfort to have my must-have items with me while I’m squeezed into an airplane seat. I’m comforted by packing my just-in-case items (small plastic bags just in case I want to save my airline-issued pretzels, extra underwear and maybe a sweater just in case the airline loses my luggage, two books just in case take-off is delayed and I finish the first one, an extra pair of prescription glasses just in case my good ones break. There are nonperishable snacks just in case I don’t like what the airline is serving, if anything. I could go on but I’d embarrass myself.

Two periods before leaving are especially stressful. One is when I’m trying to fill my travel toiletries kit with everything I’ll need. I have to make sure I pack my good eyelash curler just after using it that morning lest I forget and have to rely on the not-very-good one that’s always in my kit and risk pinching my eyelids. One might ask: Why do you keep the nasty one in the kit? The answer is that, if I forget to pack the good one, even a pinching eyelash curler is better than none. I also fill up my regulation quart bag with little bottles and tubes—not to exceed 3 ounces each—of stuff I would want with me if my luggage got lost. I make sure I have the right small containers for any cream or liquid without which I wouldn’t want to step out in public.

The second stressful period is just before actually putting stuff into the suitcase: making that final decision about what clothing goes and what stays. I try to coordinate my wardrobe, but I always have one or two tops or bottoms I’m dying to take but that don’t go with more than one bottom or top, and that’s not practical. And I’m constantly checking the weather report for my destination city to make sure I’m packing the right jacket and shoes.

Here I am traveling. I regret not packing extra-strength conditioner!

Here I am traveling. I regret not packing extra-strength conditioner!

Did I mention the plastic cleaner bags I put all my clothing in? Or the extra hangers (besides the ones holding the clothing) I bring just in case the hotel room doesn’t have enough? Or any at all, as evidenced by a trip to a rustic cabin this year?

But no matter where I go and how much time I’ve spent in preparation, I’ll always think of something I wish I had packed but didn’t and/or something I did take that has no hope of being worn during the trip.

For me, it doesn’t get easier with age. There are additional considerations: more prescriptions, more over-the-counter meds (you never know), shoes I can actually walk in besides the ones that are pretty, a magnifying mirror so I can see what I’m putting on or taking off my face in the hotel bathroom, and all those anti-wrinkle, anti-brown spot creams and potions I didn’t need when I was younger.

I shouldn’t be surprised at my need to take everything I might need with me when I’m away from home. You should see my purse!

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