Generation ___________?

It occurred to me the other day that I was invisible.  Not just me, but my entire generation.  It appears that we lack importance.  I’m basing this rather sad conclusion on the fact that we have been entirely overlooked by the folks who bestow catchy cohort labels.

Let’s get specific.  At the risk of revealing my true age, which most of you already know, I’m referring to those of us born before 1946 and after 1926.  Admittedly, I have steel wool in my brain when it comes to math, but according to my calculations, we number almost 28 million (2010 U.S. census), and yet we go about our daily lives without a cultural tag.  And personally, I’m feeling a bit resentful.  What kind of legacy is this to leave to our children and grandchildren, otherwise known as the Xs and the Ys, and possibly the Zs?

Born too late to be World War II heroes, and too early to be a part of the post-war birth explosion, we have wound up sandwiched awkwardly between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers.  An entire generation without a context!

No doubt a result of having too much time on my hands, I decided to delve into this matter a bit further.  Perhaps understanding the genesis of other generational labels would allow me to suggest something clever and catchy for my own.  Something that would acknowledge the faceless 28 million.  Something that might fit neatly as a crossword puzzle response or a question on Jeopardy.

Well, thanks to Tom Brokaw, who, himself, happens to be one of the faceless, those born between 1901 and 1926 were widely lauded as the Greatest Generation.  I don’t disagree.  They survived the Depression and fought the second world war.  They deserve the recognition, but come on, Tom, whatever happened to taking care of your own?

And the hype about the Baby Boomers? Aren’t you just sick of it?  Those born between 1946 and 1964 think they’re so special.  And who can blame them with all the attention they’ve always gotten from the media and the marketers.  So big deal.  You’ve earned a lot of money and went to Woodstock. But you have no exclusive claim to rock ‘n roll, civil rights, or feminism.  Some of us latter-born question marks  were right there with you.

Generation-naming just kept moving forward, leaving us further in the dust.  Soon there was Gen X, a term with literary roots co-opted once again by Madison Avenue.  Covering roughly the years 1966 to the early 80’s, the X originally meant that the fate of this generation was unknown.   Gen Y was so-called because it was the next letter of the alphabet.  These folks are also known as the Millennials because the majority come of age after the turn of the century.  There are actually more of them than there are Boomers.

But I’m getting a little sick of  the attention they’re getting, as well, with all the tweeting and Instagramming, and the me-me-me attitude.  But what else can you expect from a generation that wins ribbons just for showing up?  All of that self-centeredness, however, does not make them ineligible for an unique identity, even if the word “millennial” does evoke visions of a multi-legged insect.

And have you heard about Gen Z, also known as iGen?  Born after 2001, and most barely old enough for a bar mitzvah, they already have the attention of the cultural pulse-takers, while their grandparents and great-grandparents slip further into obscurity.

All of which brings us to today, when I’m sure somewhere someone is working hard at predicting the zeitgeist of a generation yet to be born, and trying to figure out a catchy name.

So back to the predicament of the invisible 28 million.  Surely there were significant events during our decades that would lend themselves to an overriding identity. For example,  I’ve heard us referred to as the “Depression Babies” or the “War Babies,” but those are such downers.  Certainly we can do better.

shutterstock_112636382We are the generation that saw the end of prohibition, the New Deal, Social Security, Superman, and sliced white bread.  (Forget the last one.  I think I’d rather be known as a “War Baby.”)

The truth be told, I actually discovered that my generation did, in fact, have a name.  If you are not a sociologist, I challenge you to tell me what it is.  I don’t recall ever seeing it used in any type of popular media in my lifetime.  If you were born between 1926 and 1945, welcome to the “Silent Generation.”

The “Silent Generation.”  How does that sit with you? Called thus because we didn’t make waves, worked hard, and stuck by good old fashioned values.  All positive traits, I suppose, but so boring!

So as the Silent Generation, it seems fitting that we have gone unnoticed.  And now that the truth has been revealed, however disappointing, perhaps it’s time to move on to more important  causes, such as discovering the true nature of Atticus Finch.

After all, “What’s in a name?” asked Juliet, from her balcony in Verona.  But at our age, should we really be debating existential questions with an iGen?

Posted in Generations | 6 Comments

Getting In Touch with Your Inner Hostile Person

As an adult at the outermost limit of middle age, I admit to embracing  two bits of pop psychology by which I try to live out my days: staying in touch with my inner child, and not sweating the small stuff.

Generally, the two popular wisdoms co-exist side-by-side rather peaceably.  In addition to being playful and potty-trained, I have also learned to be rather tranquil about  life’s little inconveniences. I try to keep my head when all around me are losing theirs, and generally maintain a calm demeanor even while on hold for thirty minutes and forced to listen to Kenny G.

If dates get cancelled, they can be rescheduled.  If I miss a train, there’s the next one.  If I burn the toast, there’s still another slice in the loaf.  No need to get upset.  That’s me most of the time.   Mature and dry.

shutterstock_283471874Notice I said most of the time.  Hey, I don’t claim to be perfect.  Nor does my inner child.  And like most children, she is prone to occasional temper tantrums.

There are definitely things in this life worse than Kenny G., things  that deserve a good lashing from the dark side of my younger self.  So I take an occasional holiday from tranquility and sublimely enjoy getting really ticked off!

I’m not proud of the fact that I throw sponges at the television, but there are certain commercials that just drive me nuts.  For instance, the two cardigan-clad women  who claim that the biggest fright of their lives was losing their tooth enamel.

And then there are those middle-age dames seductively prancing around in nightgowns, tossing their long locks, and making seductive eye squints while a voice-over talks about vaginal dryness.   I’d like to put them in a room with those dreamy couples from the Viagra and Cialis commercials and have them all deal with a four-hour erection.

But the juiciest TV tantrum of all is brought on by none other than toilet paper ads.  Especially the latest one that extols the virtue of ripples and its ability to let you drop your drawers.  Oh please, lady, your refined British accent notwithstanding, are you really okay with the fact that you’re getting paid to discuss shit?

I can feel my temperature rising even as I write.  So why, you might ask, don’t I simply walk away, or mute the sound, or change the channel?  Stop being sensible.  I don’t do any of these things because…   I’m enjoying myself!   Hey, my cranky inner child also deserves an outlet.

But yelling at the television is small potatoes when compared with the primary target of my latent temper —  my local super-duper supermarket.

The hostility rises within me even as I approach the parking lot, silently daring anyone to try to beat me out of a parking space.   This response is triggered by the fact that I know before entering the store that they will be out of the exact items that brought me there in the first place.  It happens all the time.

It’s as if everyone in my town wants the same brand of cottage cheese on the same day, and I get there last! Or is it that the store is mismanaged and they can’t seem to keep the shelves stocked? My money is on Option #2.

So I walk from aisle to aisle, getting grumpier by the minute.  By the time I get to the check-out counter with whatever items I manage to salvage from my long list, I’m in quite a state.  And, damn, I now have to get scanned by the smiliest, most pleasant check-out person in the entire store.

“Find everything okay?” she innocently asks in a voice so sweet it could send you into a diabetic coma.  “No,” I snap.   “You were out of the cottage cheese again!”  I don’t stop there.  I go on to describe the other items I couldn’t find, how poorly managed I think the store is, and how I wouldn’t be here at all if there was another supermarket within 10 miles.  She stares at me,  clearly stunned, but somehow manages to stutter “Have a nice day!”

My supermarket tantrum is not my dirty little secret.  My husband is well-aware of my Dr. Jekyll\Mr. Hyde dualism when it comes to stocking the larder.  He hears me muttering under my breath as I make out my shopping list, and in the interest of not having me ram my car into a shopping cart, he has kindly offered to take on this domestic chore .

But no.  I won’t even consider it.  Because, as in the case of those stupid television commercials, I derive some perverse pleasure from an occasional bout of foolish outrage.

So I have granted my inner hostile person, young or old, to express her full emotional range.  There’s nothing quite as refreshing as a good hissy-fit aimed at an inanimate object. (Apologies to the supermarket clerk.)   Besides, perpetual tranquility can be such a bore.

Posted in Kvetching | Leave a comment

No “F” in (the) Way

As a “woman of a certain age” who attempts to chronicle life’s nonsense with wit and wisdom, it is completely understandable that one of my role models should be Nora Ephron.  To me, she was the gold standard.   When it came to humorous essays from a female perspective, no one did it better.  After all, what mature woman couldn’t identify with feeling bad about her neck,  or the belief that life would be better if only she could find the perfect handbag.

I will never be Nora, not even if I lived another hundred years and kept writing.  But that’s okay.  I’m content to have her as the focus of my admiration and my muse.  I evoke her name each time I sit down to write, and derive inspiration by asking myself, “now what would Nora say?”

So when a  friend  happened to remark  to me, “Your essays are so funny, you should really put them in a book,”  I immediately thought, “that’s what Nora did.”

Flattery notwithstanding, I could have let it go at that.  But unfortunately, ideas often assume a life of their own.  And this one morphed into a disembodied voice, which might have been Nora’s (or perhaps my mother’s?), who kept repeating “so do it already!”

IMG_0810The idea of creating a book was daunting.  Nevertheless, I decided to go for it.  I spent the better part of last summer writing, rewriting,  and organizing, and much to my own amazement, produced a cohesive manuscript consisting of 50 of my essays.  Well, somewhat cohesive, anyway.   After all, it was my first attempt.

But the 200-odd pages just sitting on my desk wasn’t going to get me anywhere. Then an acquaintance kindly offered to show it to an editor she knew at a publishing company.  And so the journey began.

But the manuscript, professionally packaged according to the industry standards that I researched on Google, never got out of the box.   The editor couldn’t possibly read anything that wasn’t submitted by an agent!

So my manuscript needed a middle man.   Locating a literary agent was all that was standing between me and The New York Times best-seller list.  Surely this next step was not beyond the scope of my abilities.   Wrong!

Looking on the internet, which contained listings of thousands of agents, was not very fruitful, so I racked my brain to come up with anyone I knew who was a writer — and had an agent.  Yes, there was that woman, the journalist, who had a few books to her credit.  So with high hopes, I shot off an email.  She politely replied that her agent represented only journalists whose last names started with letters from L to Z.  If you fell into the A to K category, you had to look for someone else.

Yes, the literary world was highly specialized.  It was necessary to define my genre.  I did not write mysteries or science fiction, self-help books, or bodice-ripping romances.  I wrote humorous personal essays. (“Like Nora,” I wanted to scream to all those who ignored me.)   The problem was, unless you were a famous person writing personal essays, no one was interested in what you had to say.  Well, if no one was interested in what I had to say, how was I ever going to be a famous person? I seriously thought about changing my last name to Ephron.

I didn’t.  Change my name, that is.  But, so far, no agent, no editor, no publisher.  Thus, like so many other frustrated new authors (notice I didn’t say “young” authors), I decided to shortcut the journey and self-publish.

Self-publishing is a lot like regular publishing except that the exchange of money moves in a different direction.  Instead of the publisher paying you for the right to print your book, you pay them for the right to print your book.  And who knows? Perhaps my book would eventually sell enough copies so my heirs would each make $1.50.

And so the process began and nine months later, my baby was born.  My book of essays, entitled How Old Am I In Dog Years? and other thoughts about life from the far side of the hill was a reality.

The book was officially released on May 12, with immediate distribution to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other on-line book sellers.  There was a promise, but no guarantee that the book would find its way into actual book stores.

So you can image my surprise when I recently walked into my local Barnes & Noble book store, and sauntered over to the humor section.  Much to my sheer amazement and utter delight, there I was on the shelf, spine following spine, nestled right up to Nora!    I’m so glad that I didn’t change my name.  Because she’s an “E” and I’m a “G.”   And there we will remain, side by side, me and my idol.  As long as there’s no “F” in the way!


ScreenClipHow Old Am I In Dog Years? may be purchased from Amazon.com, B&N.com, Booksamillion.com, and Googlebooks, or check with your local Barnes & Noble bookstore.  The book may also be purchased directly from me at SusanGoldfein.com.  An electronic version is also available.    For those attending the book launch in Westport, CT, the book will be available for sale at that time.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Pop Quiz

shutterstock_175225310There is nothing that says “old” more than conversing with someone several decades less ancient than you, and having absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.  The grammar and syntax seem familiar,  but the actual words may as well be Urdu.  This could bring tears to the eyes even to those among us with Twitter accounts.

So, as a public service to my cohorts on the upper end of the age spectrum, in an effort to keep everyone well-informed and au courant,  I present below my second annual “English As A Second Language” self-test.   As much as I would like to credit myself for having  invented this new jargon, the words were actually selected from among the 1,500 new entries into the Oxford English Dictionary.    Have fun!

Vape

a) A monkey in a preppy sweater
b) A cross between a vanilla bean and a grape
c) A spelling error committed by the dyslexic man who comes to resurface your driveway.
d) Some of the above

 Listicle

a) A part of a man’s anatomy that no longer hangs straight, but tends to lean to one side
b) A mouthwash that makes you laugh
c) A new type of frozen treat
d) None of the above

 Dox

a) A veterinarian that treats only beasts of burden
b) Places where you park your yaux
c) Something you eat with your dagel
d) All of the above

YOLO

a) Sylvester Stallone calling his friend Lola
b) A yoyo that can’t get off the ground
c) A depressed Latino
d) A and B, or maybe not

Mansplain

a) Ricky Ricardo asking Fred Mertz for an explanation
b) A “for men only” grassy area
c) A male ordering an egg cream without the milk and chocolate syrup
d) I’d like to buy a vowel, please.

Emoji

a) Nickname for the comedienne who used to work with Sid Caeser
b) An electronic moji
c) An item at a sushi bar
d) You’ve got to be kidding!

Repurpose

a) An aquatic mammal that wanted to be a dolphin but decided to remain as he was
b) Taking another photo of a cat, but in a different position
c) Asking someone to marry, changing your mind, then asking again
d) I don’t have time for this nonsense.

Douchebaggery

a) The act of sanitizing one’s purse
b) Paper or plastic?
c) A place for old people to shower
d) I’ll take “European history” for $800, Alex

Clickbait

a) A worm with loose dentures
b) An underage “tsk-er”
c) Your seatbelt pretending to close, but then switching to “open”
d) A; definitely A

Meme

a) Title name on a Broadway marquee when they ran out of “a”s
b) Half a memory
c) Peter Sellers describing a performer who doesn’t speak
d) Enough already!

Bonus Question:

Vishing

a) The yearnings of a Russian speaker
b) The yearnings of a Polish speaker
c) An English speaker imitating the yearnings of a Russian and\or Polish speaker
d) I vant this to end right now!

Interpreting Your Score:

0 – 4     Best to stay inside your gated community
5 – 7     OK to talk to people age 50 and over
8 – 10   Congratulations!  You have been approved to converse with millenials.

If you care, here are the real answers.  1) Vape:  inhaling vapor from an e-cigarette; 2) Listicle:  internet bullet-point list; 3) Dox:  personal information getting out on the internet; 4) YOLO:  You Only Live Once; 5) Mansplain:  boorish man needing to correct what a woman says; 6) Emoji:  A picture used in electronic communication to denote an emotion or expression; 7) Repurpose:  to change something so that it can be used for a different purpose; 8) Douchebaggery:  Obnoxious or contempible behavior; 9) Clickbait:  Attractive link on the internet used to tempt readers to click on it; 10) Meme:  An idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.  Bonus Question: Vishing:  phony phone call attempting to acquire personal information.

Posted in Communication, Language | 2 Comments

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