Silver Lining

shutterstock_184127258So the other day I was on the phone with my friend Doris (not her real name).  She’s had a very rough winter.  Some strange malady has been sapping all her energy.  The slightest household chore sends her crawling to the sofa to lie down.  Her doctors have assured her that it is nothing life threatening, yet they can’t seem to get to the bottom of what ails her.

I call her regularly for an update on her situation.  Sadly, she reports about all the things she cannot seem to do, all the dates she’s had to cancel, how she suddenly feels very old and vulnerable, how bored she is, and how she doesn’t even have the energy to eat.  Her voice reflects her pathetic state of being.

I’m about to shed tears on her behalf, when suddenly there is a shift.  With a noticeable lightness of tone that definitely was not there before, she states, “…and oh, by the way, I’ve lost 10 pounds!”

Immediately, I experience a change in my own attitude.  The place where there had been empathy was now occupied by envy.  Her malady would pass, and she would be 10 pounds thinner.  Diet-less weight-loss.   That is so unfair.

I confess to finding my response somewhat alarming.  Envying my poor tired friend because she was spared the calorie counting and endless trips to the gym? What did that say about me?  Had I completely lost my mind, or was I merely a woman of a certain age looking for an alternative solution to “weight creep,” those subtle, sneaky 10 pounds that, with each passing decade, find their way to your middle?

And, suddenly, last year’s pants just won’t zip anymore, even if you lie flat on the floor and coax your large dog to sit on your stomach.  Even two large dogs sitting on your stomach won’t allow those stubborn pieces of metal to come together.

(Women blessed with the thin gene, do you even know what I’m talking about?)

Wasn’t there a condition that would work for me?   Nothing serious, of course, but maybe a prolonged stomach virus, or perhaps some extensive dental work that would render me unable to chew?

I thought longingly of my first trip to Mexico, when, in addition to a sun tan and a pair of huaraches, I arrived  home with some strange flora and\or fauna that had taken up residence in my intestinal tract.  Despite the fact that medical tests did not discover any deadly organisms,  my stomach had turned into a food processor with the button stuck on puree.  A little inconvenient, but over the course of three glorious weeks, despite eating hamburgers with the buns, and the sides of fries, I managed to shed seven pounds. Perhaps I should call my travel agent.

I wondered, would a man react similarly? Or was this just one more example of an intelligent, well-educated, sophisticated woman worshipping false idols?  Idols like Victoria’s Secret models, or half-naked women on “Dancing With The Stars?”  (Truth is, even in my best year, I never looked like that.)

I know.  This is the part where I should give myself a good talking-to.  A lecture about aging with grace, accepting the new normal, loving my still lovely, if slightly heavier self, about not focusing on belly fat, enjoying my food, and perhaps even considering getting a new pair of pants.  I’ve tried it.  It doesn’t work.

I do acknowledge, however, that it’s completely insane to focus on bacteria as a means of weight loss.   And so my thoughts turn to another sure-fire path to fat reduction that does not involve dieting and the gym – stress.

Yes, this had some immediate possibilities.  In another week, husband, dogs, and I would be relocating, leaving our place in Florida to move up north for the summer.   What this means for me is a sudden onset of OCD with more than a touch of mania.

Since I compulsively feel that the house must be left in perfect order, I will frantically move about the place cleaning, washing, straightening, and organizing.  I will run up and down the stairs with armfuls of clothes that need to be packed and shipped.  Outdoor furniture needs to be moved indoors.   I will lie awake at night creating to-do lists.  Closets must be reorganized, and perishable food disposed of.  I’ll be exhausted by the end of each day, and realize that I have forgotten to eat.  (Forgotten to eat? Isn’t that what skinny people do?) By the time we are ready to leave, I will be bone weary and sleep deprived.

But living through all this hysteria is guaranteed to shed a few unwanted pounds.  And that, my friends, is the silver lining.


Post Script:  This is a new feature that from time to time I might include in a blog post if I come across an item that relates to an essay I have recently written.  So here is the first P.S.

In an essay called “Eat My Face,” published on December 15, 2014, I talked about face creams that claim to harness the mystical powers of foodstuffs, such as avocados and artichokes, to create a more youthful you.  Here is the latest.  In a recent ad in the New York Times Estee Lauder has announced a new product which promises radiant, profoundly younger skin because it has been infused with the rare power of precious Black Diamond Truffle Extract.  Wonder how it tastes over  pasta?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

Are There Outlet Malls In Heaven?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing least likely to be overheard, and 10 representing most likely, how would you rate the following query:  “Hello, Irving, this is Sidney.  How would you like to meet for lunch and then go shopping?”

Off the chart on the low end, I would suspect.  But what if we substitute Carole and Jean for Irving and Sidney? I can hear the door slam as Carole heads for her car to rendezvous with Jean at the food court.

Women love to shop.  Men? Not so much.   Yes, there are a few of us who claim to hate it, and flaunt a sense of superiority at being less frivolous than the rest.  But dangle the temptation of a 50% off sale at a trendy boutique, and let’s see who’s the first to hail a cab.

This trait is nothing to be ashamed of.  I would even go out on a limb and suggest that woman’s love of shopping is a biological imperative; a vestige left over from more primitive times when men were hunters, and women were gatherers.

If we examine the act of gathering, we will see many parallels with modern-day shopping.  Women would leave their village in groups, chatting and socializing, and go into the forest or jungle in search of the best edible plants.  There they would part grasses, push back branches, take their time, go from tree to tree, examining, checking, until they were satisfied with what they placed in their baskets.  And feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when they returned to their huts with their bounty.

We need not analyze too deeply to see how this translates to a trip to Saks with a friend.  And, while we are no longer required to part grasses and push back branches, the motor memory of these actions surely enables us to deftly part hangers on pipe racks.

Men, on the other hand, often stalked their prey alone, and in silence.  This highly focused pursuit is perhaps why men buy, but women shop. 

shutterstock_92261554A man might go into a store if they need something, like a pair of socks or a new shirt.  They will spot their targeted item, buy it, and leave.  Women love to take their time and browse, looking here and there, lifting a sweater off the table to see if there’s a better one underneath.  The modern-day equivalent of foraging, I suspect.

And, women tend to shop whether they need something or not.  In fact, if you are fortunate enough to have some disposable income, “need” is a four-letter word.  It has little to do with the experience.

Women who are true recreational shoppers (and that is most of us) find it very hard to resist the lure of the fashion outlet mall.  It beckons to us like a siren’s song.  The anticipation of finding a deal at a high end store produces something akin to an adrenaline rush.

Besides feeling like you’ve discovered the Holy Grail, a bargain also comes with bragging rights.  “Did you know that this blouse originally sold for $500, but I paid only $75? And if I don’t raise my arm more than three inches, no one will even see the little tear on the right side.”

Do we really believe all those claims about original prices, and the five subsequent markdowns that appear on the tag?  Not really, but why spoil the fun?

And what about the fact that this was last year’s dress? So what? Was last year so bad?

Truth be told, a good deal of what is sold at outlets like Saks Off Fifth, Barney’s, and other high end retail shops are not the real thing, but goods made for discounting.  But among the inferior merchandise, are the authentic deals waiting to be discovered by the sharpest among us who have honed our skills in the forest.  There is treasure among the trash, and that’s what keeps us coming back.

As for me, I will shop ‘til I drop.  Or as long as the stamina holds out and I continue to believe that trying on clothing for several hours burns as many calories as the treadmill.

And in the end, who really knows what the afterlife holds?  I’m not sure if there are shopping malls in heaven.

But in the event that there are, and I decide to be cremated, please scatter my ashes in Neiman Marcus Last Call.

Posted in Shopping | 2 Comments

Eye Opener

By any chance, do you to remember an old movie called The Enchanted Cottage starring Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire? It was released a long time ago, 1945 to be exact.  If you don’t remember it, please don’t lie and tell me it’s because you weren’t born yet.  I happen to know how old you are!

Anyway, in this film, Robert Young plays a disfigured war veteran and Dorothy McGuire plays a homely maid.  The two marry, and as time passes, fall more deeply in love.  Within the confines of the cottage in which they live, they begin to appear beautiful to each other.

Well, apparently, I had been happily living in an enchanted cottage of my own.  At least until the other day, when a terrorist disguised as an eye doctor blew the whole thing to smithereens!

You see (she punned), I recently had cataract surgery.  No big deal, I hear you saying.   Just another, inevitable part of the aging process.    Everybody does it.  So if everybody does it, why didn’t anyone warn me?

shutterstock_117648916My eyes are considerably older than I am.  And because of this I accepted the fact that my reading glasses gradually got stronger, and I now needed distance glasses for driving.  And at night I did notice that the headlights of oncoming cars had become more distracting.  But I figured it was due to inferior workmanship.

So you can imagine my surprise, when, at my last eye exam, the doctor suggested that I consider having my cataracts removed.  What cataracts? Who had cataracts? Had he failed to mention this before, or was I just not listening?

Who knows for how many years these insidious little clouds have been gradually forming on  the lenses of my eyes, and, unbeknownst to me, eventually causing me to view the world in a gauze-like haze?  A little inconvenient at times, but actually not unlovely.  A little like a filter used on a camera to provide a mysterious, romantic ambiance.  And because the change happens slowly, one does tend to adjust.

Nevertheless, I agreed to the surgery, one eye at a time.  So my left eye is now younger than my right, resulting in both good news and bad news.  The good news is that I do see much better.  The bad news is — that I see much better!

OMG! Would you just look at the kitchen floor! Where did all that dog hair come from? I mean, I was aware there was some dog hair from my two constantly-shedding Labrador Retrievers, but when did they start going bald?  Since the surgery, I have progressed from running the vacuum every other day to every fifteen minutes.

When did the walls get so dirty?  My new fashion accessory is a can of Ajax and a wet sponge.  And, look, the paint is chipping in the corner.  And I wonder what caused the scratches on the bedroom floor? We really need to consider whether it’s time for a new paint job, and having the floors redone.  Or possibly moving.

Shove over, Morty and Lee.  Adorable as you might be, it’s my turn to do a Swiffer commercial.  I, too, have been living in a fool’s paradise.

But the excess of dog hair, dirty walls, chipped paint and scratched floors were only foreplay for the grand-daddy of all shockers.

The morning following the day of the surgery, my husband heard a blood-curdling shriek emanating from the bathroom.  He sprung from the bed, probably believing that our bathtub had been occupied by an army of Palmetto bugs.  Even one of those creatures would call forth a vocalization that could land me a role in a horror movie.

A tub-full of roaches having a spa day in my Jacuzzi would have been preferable.  The true source of the shriek was the face in the mirror that was looking back at me.   Apparently, during the night, I had channeled the late Dorian Gray.

Who was this stranger? She did look familiar, but the Susan I remember did not have those pouches under her eyes, those deep laugh-lines around her mouth, the sagging jowls, and a neck that Nora Ephron would definitely feel bad about.    And where did all those freckles come from?  (Were they freckles or something worse?)

As terrifying as it was, I couldn’t take my good eye off that face in the mirror.  Whoever coined the phrase “reality bites” should receive a Pulitzer prize.  Truer words had never been spoken.

I’ve always been good in a crisis, so as calmness returned, I formulated a plan.  There was help out there.  I simply had to reach out to my friends whom, because they had been dealing with signs of aging much longer than I, knew the best repair people.

Later that day, the swelling under my eyes did diminish significantly.  Unfortunately, I can’t say that for the rest of it.

In two weeks I shall have the other eye done.  I can only imagine what additional imperfections await me.

While it is miraculous, cataract surgery can be quite costly.  Yes, insurance does cover the medical expenses.  But even the best policies don’t include house repainting, floor scraping, moving or cosmetic procedures.

So in the interest of parsimony, I’m considering an alternative to the costly cosmetic procedures.

For the near future at least, I shall choose my companions more selectively.  I will hang out only with those friends who still have cataracts.  That way, they will still see me through the slightly foggy, but highly complimentary filter, and together we can all return to The Enchanted Cottage. 

 Which, by now, could probably use a new paint job.

Posted in Aging, Anatomy, Beauty, Doctors | 4 Comments

How To Complain When There’s Nothing To Complain About

I knew this day would come.  I’ve been dreading its arrival for over three years.   It’s that very disquieting sensation of tranquility, however temporary, when your existence has reached an unsettling plateau of comfort.   And, try as you will, you just can’t seem to find anything to complain about.

I know how enviable the circumstance in which I currently find myself may appear, but when you’re engaged in a pursuit that requires kvetching, this situation is a disaster!   It’s humiliating.  I am an embarrassment to my ancestors.

How could it be that my life has no respect for my deadline, self-imposed as it is? An essay is due, and I am gripe-less.

shutterstock_100882081Feeling very much like Koko, the Lord High Executioner from The Mikado, I am in desperate need of a little list.  So I begin to flip through my mental file cabinet for potential sources of irritation.

Let’s see; last weekend we travelled north.  Surely an encounter with an airline could yield all sorts of problems.  But no, nothing, nada!  The flights were on time, even early.  My in-flight TV set was working, and, to my joy, showing a Law and Order marathon.  The man sitting next to me was not obese, did not have bad breath, did not try to talk to me while I was engrossed with my beloved Olivia Benson, and didn’t have to go to the bathroom – not even once!  Can things get much worse than that?

How about our outdoor dinner party? Certainly a ripe potential for multiple tragedies.  There was a whole host of concerns.  We worried about the temperature.  Would it be too hot or too cold? Wind gusts of 25 miles an hour or no wind at all but plenty of little biting things dining on our guests?

Would it dare to rain?  Would the intra-coastal be at low tide so our company would have a perfect view of mud?  And a possible odor of something akin to milk that had been accidently left out of the refrigerator for a few days? Would a female friend in too-high heels trip coming down the spiral staircase from the upper deck, requiring a visit from the fire department?

But no, none of the above.  Everything was perfect.  Couldn’t have been better.  Food was excellent, temperature just right, fish were jumping and the water level was high.  Slight breeze, no bugs.  And not one sprained ankle in the group.  Do you see where I’m going with this? I’m beginning to feel more than a little hopeless.

Keep searching, I tell myself.  Something will come up.

The dry cleaner has not lost any clothes lately.  No long lines at the bank.  The person ahead of me at Starbuck’s bought only a bottle of water.  The supermarket did not run out of my favorite no-fat, sugar free imitation chocolate fudgesicle.   And there was plenty of Cool Whip.

The weather has been beautiful, the air reasonably dry, and my golf game, after taking a dive, has recovered to its accustomed level of incompetence.

My appliances are purring, my computer is behaving, and I haven’t scratched the car in two weeks.

I’m not feeling fat, my bad hair days have been at a minimum, and a stranger in a diner told me I was beautiful.  Can circumstances get any worse than this?

I suppose I could always complain about my children, but I have declared them off-limits.  I may have to reconsider, however.  It’s starting to look like these are very tough times for a whiner.

I concede that this is not going well.  That my quest for a societal offender is coming up empty.  I have one last hope.  I turn my thoughts to my spouse.

Yes, he still falls asleep gripping the TV remote in a tightly clenched fist, but that’s an old story.   As is his misplacing things, constantly giving me driving lessons, and messing up the house with papers.   Good news, or in this case, bad news – he has lately limited his cooking to the outdoor grill so my kitchen has not been under siege.

Surely, we must have had an argument about something recently, or at the very least, a mild disagreement.  But I can think of nothing.  Maybe I’m losing my mind.  Now that would be something to complain about, but I’ll need more proof.

Perhaps the universe is trying to tell me to relax and appreciate the fact that for this brief moment in time, my stars are in alignment.  It is a shaky peace at best, because we all know how quickly the axis can shift.

So I shall do just that, and be grateful that I am leaving the rest of this page as blank space.  For now.

Posted in Kvetching | 4 Comments

Alternate Realities II

They’re ba-a-a-a-ck!  Along with the tulip shoots pushing up through the snow, the robins, the melting ice, and the mud, the coming of spring marks a new season of Reality TV.  But is it really new?

From the commercials, I see the same young faces and half-clad bodies with not a single love handle to be spotted in the entire group.  The days and times might be different, but it is quite clear from the lack of Silver Sneakers, that not one television executive heeded my suggestions for winning an “older” audience.

Moreover, I noted with mixed emotions, that The Real Housewives of Miami may or may not be returning for the 2015 season.  While I shall sorely miss Lisa, Lenny, and Marysol, perhaps I now stand a chance of some forward-thinking producer paying attention to my updated version of:

RHOCVThe Real Housewives of Century Village

The stars of this show are six friends of a certain age who reside in a retirement community located in South Florida.

The group consists of Connie, a platinum blonde; Carole, an ash blonde; Roz, a champagne blonde; and Sue, a golden blonde.  Zipporah, playfully referred to by the others as “Zip the Lip,” is the token brunette.  Jane, the non-conformist of the group, courageously allows her hair to remain its natural gray – although this is subject to change now that Mr. Lerner, her neighbor, has become available due to the recent death of his wife, may she rest in peace.

Connie, Carole, Jane, and Sue are widows.  Roz, however, is recently divorced, her husband having left her for his physical therapist while he was recovering from a knee replacement.  After forty-five years of marriage, Roz bitterly recalls the day she watched him hobble off, leaning on his walker, with his suitcase strapped to his back.  Zip the Lip is the only housewife who is still married.

For the first show of the new season, the camera pans in on each of the six amigas  at home, preparing to meet for a shopping spree at the latest south Florida outlet mall.   This is the first outing to this new destination.  You will recall last season’s final episode where we left the women in deep sadness, lamenting the demise of Loehmann’s.

The first vignette belongs to Roz, who is trying to apply her mascara while weeping over her divorce.  She explains to the audience that while she still loves him, at the same time, wishes he was dead.  She gets some comfort from the fact that their children are not speaking to him.  As she rearranges her champagne blonde hairdo, Roz tells the viewers that the one good thing that came out of all the intense grief surrounding her divorce was that she lost twenty pounds, and is back to her college weight.  She stands up from her vanity to show off her skinny pants with matching jacket from Chico’s, size .05.  She dons the jewelry she recently purchased through binge buying on the Home Shopping Network, and steps outside to the parking lot to meet her friends.

Connie, Carole, Sue, and Jane are introduced consecutively.  Connie, who is the most affluent of the friends (her husband owned a chain of funeral homes) walks us through her decorator-appointed condo as she searches for her Bottega Veneta handbag, which, unlike her friend Sue’s – she assures us in confidence – is not counterfeit.

We meet Carole, the most indecisive of the group, in her bedroom, still in her bathrobe.  Half the contents of her closet are strewn on the floor as she tries to decide what to wear.  We politely leave her to resolve her quandary.

Sue has just stepped outside, and is locking her door as the camera catches up with her.  She is a vision in pink with her Chanel jacket and Prada sunglasses.  (But are they?)

Practical, non-conformist Jane, the only one of the crew wearing sensible shoes, is distracted as she talks to the camera, keeping an eye out for Mr. Lerner, should he emerge from his condo.  Her plan is to dash outside and “accidentally” bump into him, offering words of comfort, and a helping of home-cooked brisket.  We now understand the purpose of the sneakers, which clearly do not go with her otherwise coordinated attire, complete with dangling earrings.

We are introduced to Zipporah in her kitchen, where she is still yelling at her husband about how he ruined the previous night’s meal.  Fresh from a French cooking class, she was intent on showing off to Connie and Sue, whom she had invited for dinner.  But the stupid lout had brought home three cucumbers instead of zucchini squash, completely ruining her plans for ratatouille.  Phil is saved from further debasement when Roz knocks on the door to tell Zip that everyone is waiting outside.

During the last half hour of the show, the audience is treated to a discussion about whose car they should use, and who should ride with whom.  Carole, of course, is vacillating.  Connie and Roz are somewhat on the outs, since Roz accused Connie of cheating at Mah jongg.  And Zipporah sullies the air by telling Jane that her dangling earrings make her look like a slut.

Jane still holds a grudge against Sue for sneaking into her bathroom and taking her last Depends, leaving an empty box in the cabinet.  Connie is whining because, although she has the largest, most expensive, most comfortable car, it isn’t fair that she always drives.

We leave the six friends as they argue in the parking lot.

Previews of the next week’s episode invite us to be flies on the wall as the real housewives of Century Village finish their post-shopping spree luncheon, and discuss how to split the check.

I hope this show is a success, because I’m already hard at work revamping other, remaining reality series.  For example, in my version of The Amazing Race, which will be called I’m Still Walking – That’s Amazing, ten couples compete for a grand prize, which is yet to be determined, but might be a lifetime supply of early bird dinners at the local deli.  Considering the age limitations and reduced stamina, the playing field will have to be modified, let’s say from racing around the world to fast walking around a gated community, while telling Phil, the host, about their latest maladies.

And my version of Survivor?  I’m considering an intimate portrait in real time of those facing the challenges of life after being voted off the condo board.

Posted in Aging, Change, Television | 1 Comment

 State of the Reunion

I am frequently confronted by a situation that would appear to be a statistical improbability but is nevertheless true.

shutterstock_233094220My husband and I are out for the evening.  Our destination is of little importance.  We could be on line to purchase movie tickets, or waiting for our table in a restaurant.  Or even preparing to board the first flight to Mars.  It doesn’t matter.  Invariably he will run into a guy he knows from high school.

What makes this so astonishing is that his high school class had all of 106 students, while my class had about 900.  And yet, I bump into nobody.

So these old acquaintances, (frequently, the wife is a hometown girl, as well) acknowledge each other with great surprise and delight, and sit down and join us at the dinner table.  Or plan to meet up after the movie for coffee.  What ensues for them is a thoroughly enjoyable three-way conversation about old times.  I just sit there and smile.

My husband grew up in a small town on Long Island, New York.  For those of you not from the New York area, Long Island is a strip of land that is actually a part of Brooklyn, although its inhabitants would rather jump in the Long Island Sound with rocks in their pockets than admit to that.

In addition to being given fluorinated water to prevent cavities, and inoculations against whooping cough, I am firmly convinced that children growing up in or near his town in the above-mentioned location, were implanted with a homing device that enables them to find each other in whatever hemisphere they happen to be residing.  Or vacationing.  Or golfing.  Or visiting the proctologist.  I refuse to believe that these encounters are mere coincidence.

As a result, I have become a silent participant in a fairly steady stream of both informal and formal get-togethers during which I witness, somewhat enviously, their nostalgia.

Just this winter alone, there have been three such occasions, and as an observer, I have begun to notice a pattern.  Besides the good will, the pleasure of seeing one another, and some requisite whining about how their golf games are deteriorating, each reunion seems to have three essential ingredients.  These are: “ The Medical Update,”  “The Geography Game,” and an activity that I have named  “Alive or Dead?”

The medical update consists of a general review of everyone’s body parts.  In this segment we are informed about recent hip surgeries, knee replacements, shoulder operations, and who knows the absolute best doctor to see if you need work on your right arm between the elbow and the wrist.  This inventory may or may not be followed up with what has come to be known as the “organ recital,” and includes any pertinent information about liver, kidneys, pancreas, and of course, the heart.  Cholesterol count is optional.

The Geography Game is one of my personal favorites, although it can become a little contentious.  This is the part of the evening when those who are no longer living in the home town ask those who are, about historic landmarks.

“Remember Romeo’s Pizza Parlor on Main Street? Is it still there?”

“That wasn’t on Main Street.  That was on Jones Street, across from the movies.”

“No it wasn’t; you’re thinking of the ice cream parlor.”

“You think I don’t know the difference between an ice cream parlor and a pizza parlor?

Similar inquiries take place regarding the bowling alley, kosher butcher, and the pharmacy where you could get the best egg creams.  Or was that malteds?

Finally we arrive at that inevitable part of the evening when the discussion turns to those former classmates who are not present at the current gathering.

“Whatever happened to Bill Mason?”

“Didn’t he die recently?”

“Are you crazy? He isn’t dead.  I just spoke to him at a member-guest.”

“Are you sure you spoke to him? Because I heard he was dead.”

At a typical reunion, at least five other people are discussed in this manner before dessert is served.

Despite the small disagreements about what was where, and so-and-so’s mortality, the evening is congenial, and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.  Even me, although I’m not an integral part of the original group.

And I’m sure it would be not one iota different if it were my old neighborhood and my high school friends.  If only I could find them.

People of Brooklyn, you have got to get out more!

Posted in Friends, Relationships | 5 Comments

A Belated Valentine

ScreenClipUnless you’ve recently crawled under a rock, or have been hiding out on a Pacific island with the Japanese soldier who didn’t know WW II had ended, you must be aware that the much- anticipated film version of “Fifty Shades of Grey” was released this weekend, with the biggest advanced ticket sales of any movie.  Ever.

If you, like me, are at that age where novel erotic positions are guaranteed to give you leg cramps, but don’t want to feel left out of the sexual frenzy, I offer you a reprint of my own, formerly released versions of two out of three of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy.

As I’m sure all of my literati friends already know, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is about a kinky relationship between a very unreal 27-year-old drop-dead gorgeous male who is a self-made gazillionaire, and a somewhat unreal beautiful 21-year-old female recent college graduate who is still a virgin.  She is an English literature major with a perfect grade point average who nevertheless expresses her emotional astonishments by repeating the phrases “holy crap,” “holy shit,” and “holy fuck” on alternating occasions.

Since my version is written for those of a more advanced age, it is both responsible and legally prudent that the book come with a warning.  Opening the cover, or firing up your Kindle, may be hazardous to your health.  Consult your physician before reading.  Perusing this volume may result in: shortness of breath, atrial and\or ventricular fibrillation, spiking of blood pressure, shingles, varicose veins, loosening of dental implants, and short-circuiting of hearing aids.   Don’t read this story if you are prone to erections that last more than four hours.

“Fifty Shades” Reconsidered

Judah Gold, shortened from Goldberg, encounters Anna Steelman at a class reunion taking place in Boca del Mar y Lago, Florida, where fifty shades of grey refers to the hair color of all those in attendance who have given up on Clairol.

He remembers her from high school as a pretty cheerleader with sexy legs, whose pom poms used to give him an erection.  He approaches her.  “Anna,” he calls out, noting the name tag on her left breast just to be certain, casually sweeping his eyes over to her right breast as well.  He takes in the rest of her with an appreciative eye, noting that she is still very attractive, and that he finds her love handles a turn-on.

“Holy cow,” she says, “Judah Goldberg.  I haven’t seen you in over 40 years.”  She does not fail to appreciate him as well, noting his still handsome face, almost full head of hair, trim physique and expensive clothes.  “If he can still drive at night,” she muses to herself, “he would be a perfect catch.”

“It’s Gold now, Anna,” he says in a rich, sophisticated voice with just a hint of a Long Island accent, “Judah Gold.”

“You look wonderful, Judah,” she remarks.  “You’ve kept yourself very fit.  Clearly, your Medicare supplement includes the Silver Sneakers program at the gym.”

“I have a personal trainer, Anna,” he corrects her, somewhat haughtily.  “I’m very wealthy.”

They chat and catch up on the intervening years.  Both are widowed.  He informs her that he is retired, and living full time in Boca, except when he uses his private jet to visit exotic locations, or his helicopter to take him shopping in Palm Beach.

“And how are you keeping busy?” she asks.

“I have a new hobby,” he replies.  “I practice domination.”

“Domination?” she repeats querulously, “is that anything like canasta?”

He is instantly stimulated by her naivete, and tries to quiet his throbbing prostate.  He tells her he will explain in due time, and they continue talking.  He is becoming aroused by thoughts of bringing her to his home, where he has turned his Florida room into a tropical pink playground of submission.

By the end of the evening, Judah has asked her out to dinner the following week.  Anna’s inner yenta urges her to accept.  Because he wants to sweep her off her feet, he resists inviting her for the early bird special.  Although he is wealthy, he is also very frugal when it comes to restaurants.

On the evening of their date, he has his driver, Barber, pick her up at 6:30.  Judah is waiting at the restaurant and escorts her to the table.  “Sit,” he commands her.  The waiter brings the menus and he orders for both of them.  In a short time, the appetizer arrives.  “Eat,” he tells her.  During the meal, Judah’s cell phone rings.  As he excuses himself and walks away to take the call, he instructs Anna to “stay.”

Why does he talk like a dog trainer?  She wonders to herself, but is distracted by the delicious food.

Dinner is very pleasant, and Anna is becoming giddy from the wine.  Judah decides to make his move tonight.  At this age, one cannot afford to waste time.

She agrees to go to his house for a nightcap, after which Barber will take her home.  She is overwhelmed by the size of his estate.  “How do you manage to get around all these acres?”  she asks him.  “Remember, Anna,” he responds, “I’m very wealthy.  I have my own golf cart.”

Anna “oohs” and “ahs” at his beautiful art work, the expensive furnishings, the 14 kt. gold grab bars in the bathrooms.  He escorts her through all of the rooms but one.  He is conniving to make her curious.  She takes the bait.

“What’s this room?” she asks, glancing at the closed door of the former Florida room.  “That is where I play at domination,” he responds in a suddenly curt and clipped manner.  My, thinks Anna, he certainly is moody.  Nothing like my Harry, may he rest in peace.  “So let me see,” she implores.  “Perhaps it’s a game I can teach to the girls at the club.”

Again, he finds her naivete a turn-on, but tells her that before he can show her the room, she has to sign a disclaimer that she is entering at her own risk.  She is puzzled, but consents.  He produces the paper as she searches through her handbag for her reading glasses.

Once the formality is accomplished, he proceeds to unlock the door.  Anna steps inside and gasps.  She has never seen anything like it.  In the center of the room is an ornate king-sized four-poster bed covered in expensive satin fabric with a palm tree motif.  Little monkeys decorate the matching pillow shams.  Silk ropes are tied around each of the posts. On one wall, at least twenty very expensive Gucci and Pucci silk scarves are hanging on hooks.  Another wall contains a rack with canes of various sizes.  To the left of the bed is a rhinestone-studded walker.  Could those be handcuffs attached to the grip? A wheel-chair upholstered in genuine snakeskin, and equipped with restraints, stands by the window.  Ropes with leather wrist cuffs hang from the ceiling.  She spots a tie rack with clearly very costly men ties.  At this moment, Anna is not sure if she has stepped into the pages of a Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalog, or a rehab center.

Anna nervously begins biting the knuckle of her right thumb.  A woman biting her right thumb knuckle has always been the sexual tipping point for Judah.  He can stand it no longer.  He pulls Anna to him.  His hands caress her love handles.  He kisses her squarely on the mouth, his tongue finding its way between her teeth, as he backs her onto the ornate king-sized four-poster bed.

Fifty Shades Greyer

When we last left Anna Steelman and Judah Gold (ne Goldberg), she had just been introduced to his Florida Room of Pain (aka the Pink Playground), and was being ravished atop the ornate four-poster bed by a turned-on Mr. G.  He succeeded in awakening stirrings within her that she had not experienced since discontinuing hormone replacement therapy some twenty-odd years ago.  At first she confused these sensations with a bladder infection, but soon discovered they were really dormant sexual longings.

Anna quickly learned that the game of domination had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with canasta (possibly strip poker, but definitely not canasta), and that a sub, in this case, was not a hero sandwich.  Uncertain of her limits, but intrigued in spite of herself, she agreed to become his sexual slave.  “After all,” she reasoned, “how far can he go? We’re not exactly kids anymore, you know!”

Judah suggested they establish a “safe word” that she could use if he did, in fact, get too frisky due to an extra Viagra.   After tossing around several possibilities, like “Uncle” or “Get off me you sick bastard,” they agreed on “Genug,” Yiddish for “if you don’t stop right now I’ll kick you in the kishkas.”

Anna also discovered that, in addition to liking kinky sex, Judah was very possessive.  He wanted to know where she was and with whom at every moment she was not with him.  To this end, he presented her with a lap-top computer and a special cell phone so he could call, e-mail or text her throughout the day.  She reluctantly accepted these devices, but absolutely drew the line at wearing an ankle monitor.  Her inner yenta was also appalled by this suggestion, reminding Anna that she was prone to fluid retention which often caused swelling in that precise body part.

Anna was not familiar with lap top computers and mistook it for a cutting board.  Luckily, her eight-year-old grandson, who happened to be in the kitchen, stopped her just as she was about to chop onions.  He then proceeded to teach her how to use it for its intended purpose.

At eleven p.m. that evening, Anna was startled awake by a strange dinging sound.  Ruling out all other sources, such as maybe she forgot to shut the refrigerator door and all the food was spoiling, she finally realized it was coming from the lap top.  Anna opened the cover, releasing the bright light, and sure enough, there was the first e-mail from Judah.

“To:  Anna Steelman;  Subject:  What are you doing and with whom? Date:  April 12, 2014;  23:10:06

Dear Anna,

Sorry if I disturbed you, but I get particularly jealous at night, and need to be reassured that you are alone in your bed. Sincerely,

Judah Gold, President and CEO, Boca del Mar y Lago Homeowners Association, Phase I”


“Oh my,” thought Anna, “he is crazy.”  Nevertheless she found his jealously exciting, and decided to answer him.


“To: Judah Gold; Subject: Take a sleeping pill; Date: April 12, 2012; 23:14:05

Dear Judah:

For this you wake me up? Although I find your jealousy flattering, may I remind you that my late husband died ten years ago, and except for the dog, who died four years ago, I have been sleeping completely alone.  While it is a little lonely, I have actually been sleeping better since no one is snoring in my ear.  That would be the dog, not my late husband.  So would you please refrain from late night e-mails.  The dinging gave me quite a start. Sincerely,

Anna Steelman, Treasurer, Women s Canasta Society of Vista Shores”


“To Anna Steelman; Subject: Sorry about that; Date: April 13, 2014; 9:30:10

Dear Anna:

I’m sorry I disturbed you last night, but it was relieving to learn that you have not replaced your husband or your dog.  I hope you have a restful day because I have big plans for us tonight.  Later today, Barber will deliver a dress and matching shoes that I bought for you and would like you to wear this evening.  And by the way, do you have a bra without quite so many fasteners? Undoing all those hooks last time inflamed my carpal tunnel syndrome.”  I can’t wait to see you.   I’m tingling with anticipation.

Judah Gold, President and CEO, Boca del Mar y Lago Homeowners Association, Phase I”


“To: Judah Gold; Subject: Tingling; Date: April 13, 2014; 13:20:04

Dear Judah:

Barber just arrived with the dress and shoes, as well as the bra that fastens with Velcro.  Sorry you weren’t here to see me rolling my eyes when I opened the box.  I think you had better take down the tingling a few notches, because I won’t be wearing any of it.  First of all, the dress.  I can’t tell the front from the back.  Either way, I haven’t worn a neckline that low since my hospital gown fell open when I was having my tonsils removed.  I was four at the time.  And the shoes? Judah, do you really want to spend the night in the emergency room watching some teen-aged doctor tape up my ankle?  I will consider the bra, however.  Under the circumstances, Velcro does seem practical.

Anna Steelman, Treasurer, Women’s Canasta Society of Vista Shores”


“To: Anna Steelman; Subject: Our Agreement; Date: April 13, 2014; 14:07:07

Dear Mrs. Steelman:

May I remind you that you agreed, when we were together, that you would wear the clothes I chose? I insist you wear the blue dress.  Regarding the shoes, you may have a point there.  My itinerary for the evening does not include the emergency room.  Barber will come around again with another, lower-heeled version.    And, for rolling your eyes, you will be punished!  Laters, baby!

Judah Gold, President and CEO, Boca del Mar y Largo Homeowners Association, Phase 1”


“To: Judah Gold; Subject: Anger Management; Date: April 13, 2014; 14:30:10

Dear Mr. Gold:

Do I detect anger in your communication? May I remind you that I reserved the right to decline any garment that revealed more skin than would be appropriate at a bar mitzvah party?  I don’t know what kind of affairs you attend, but if I showed up in the blue dress, the party favor for every child would be a case of PTSD.  Tonight, I shall put on something of my own choosing, but promise to wear the sexy lingerie, even though it makes me feel a little foolish, something like Victoria’s Secret meets Depends.  And what, pray tell, do you have in mind for punishment? I can hardly wait.  If it’s anything like the last time, I better take an extra blood pressure pill.  I can’t believe what you’ve awakened in me.  Insatiably yours, Anna XO

P.S.  What’s with the “laters?”

Anna Steelman, Treasurer, Women’s Canasta Society of Vista Shores”

And here we leave Judah Gold and Anna Steelman as their digital footprints continue to trek through cyberspace.  Eventually, the e-mails stop when they move in together.  She gives up her smaller space for his lavish house.  Having found someone who believes he is a good person and worthy of love, Judah gives up his fetish and allows Anna to turn the Pink Room of Pain back into a Florida Room, where they spend many happy hours together playing canasta.

(Watch for the next movie version, featuring Barbra Streisand playing Anna.  To be shown in select cities everywhere!)

Posted in Erotica, Fantasy, Relationships | 5 Comments