Chapter One Hundred-Seventeen: Ma’am and the Great Pumpkin Spice Latte debacle…

It is that time of year again. Crisp air, leaves changing color, fall festivals, and the most controversial autumnal topic known to mankind. The infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte debate. Born of legends, a part of American fall culture and folklore, you either love it or hate it, there is no in-between. The divorce causing, friendship over, job quitting, employee firing, more controversial than the current political climate the “Pumpkin Spice Latte’s” debacle is tearing families apart, causing war in states, this is what the media should be focusing on. You either love them or hate them. There is no in-between. There are the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte Resisters who shame you if you order one. Then there are the others who love them and like a bad addiction hide their secret of being a Pumpkin Spice Latte Lover. It is equivalent to having an affair in most homes. I surmise it is like being a compulsive gambler and living in Vegas, walking into a Starbucks and NEEDING to order your Pumpkin Spice Latte no matter the aftermath of ones actions. Disregarding the damage your choice of beverage makes. You are selfish, you are an addict, and there is no stopping you and your craving.

I head to our local coffee shop and stand in line. When it’s my turn I order a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I say it proudly and without hesitation. The man behind me snorts in disgust, as though I have just defecated on his croissant. I am Pumpkin Spice Latte shamed. I feel like Hester  Prynne in the Scarlet letter.  A scandalous murmur ripples throughout the coffee shop, heads turn, fingers point. Even the barista looks at me with contempt. I am surrounded by anti-Pumpkin Spice Latte resistors. FYI I never got the memo to join the  Anti-Pumpkin Spice Latte resistance! Why am I being shamed for my taste of beverage? In the corner of the coffee shop, I spy Confused Husband trying to hide from me. I shoot him a look and he pretends to be very interested in reading the words on his cup. I will deal with him later.

My beverage of choice is ready, broadcast all over the shop like an announcer at a boxing match. Also, Howard Cosell at the bar has bellowed: ” VENTI PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE”. I do the walk of shame. People part ways to clear me a path as though I am Moses parting the Red Sea.  Dirty looks are shot in my direction, and evil eyes of utter disappointment by complete strangers are gifted to me. I shyly pick up my cup of controversy and attempt to thank the mouth behind the counter who has turned me into a character in the cast of Les Mis, instead of pitchforks, I will be assaulted with coffee stirrers and paper straws.

Fall used to be about Pagan rituals, Halloween, bobbing for apples, costumes, candy and pumpkins. Now it is all about shaming one over their beverage choice. The discrimination I have felt over loving Pumpkin Spice Latte’s is sinful! Now I know how Guy Fawkes must have felt! I am treated like a treasonous character. I am alone in my fight to make Pumpkin Spice Lattes a popular uncontroversial choice of beverage. It is my lot in life, and I must accept it. I will fight for all of us Pumpkin Spice Latte lovers! I will become our voice! I will hold protests and rallies and call for all of us to be equal with the Caramel Macchiato peeps! It will be a movement!

I head home and Google how to start an organization! #PUMPKINPEOPLE, #USTOO are some hash tags I am thinking of. On Next Door I post my new organization and anyone wanting to join. I sit and wait to see if anyone is brave enough to sign up. I am Pumpkin Latte shamed by people using aliases. Ramon526 tells me to move to Russia. I don’t get it and have no desire to respond to him(I also suspect that Ramon is really Dr. Wexler the neighborhood dentist.) Note to self; Change dentists. Another chimes in that I am a loser for drinking that. I can’t believe my neighbors are so mean! Finally, after a barrage of nasty comments I receive a message from Phil@mom’shouse, he joins and now we are two! I also realize that obviously there has to be more than just the two of us. We agree to have a secret meeting in hopes some others are brave enough o join our movement. We agree to meet at the faux pumpkin patch in front of the Whole Foods.

I find a ridiculously extra large pumpkin to sit on. I also felt brave enough to order TWO Pumpkin spice lattes, one for my new friend in arms! I wait… I finally receive a text from Phil@mom’shouse. He informs me that his mom won’t let him come it’s too dangerous. WTF?!

I am Charlie Brown sitting in the pumpkin patch with my TWO Pumpkin Spice latte’s waiting for the Great Pumpkin…

Chapter One Hundred- Sixteen: Ma’am’s take on PSA’S…

Do you know those “helpful” PSA’S that are consistently thrown in our faces like we are truly morons? For example: “Don’t eat detergent pods”. “Do not try this at home” (example a man juggling fire swords, a person doing a handstand on a bike.) Or the ones where the person on tv is doing something completely IDIOTIC and they have in captioning underneath (Actor portrayal) because I assume the real person has died from partaking in the stupid function that the actor on tv is portraying.

What about the good old: “Just say NO!” kind of hard to do when the guy puts a roofie in your drink. Strangers on tv lecturing us on how to behave and stay safe. Well, I would like to see realistic PSA’S like: “Wear your knickers!” PSA! How hard can this be to figure out?! “Ladies PLEASE wear knickers under your yoga pants! No one and I mean no one! other than your significant other needs to be that familiar with your “Nether-regions” whilst I am sitting trying to enjoy my Keto-friendly Violet drink from Starbucks, as you are stretching, and your crotch is eye-level to my outdoor table. Other than your waxer, I do not need to know if you have a Brazilian wax or a seventy style fluff. I do not want nor need to see your camel -toe as I am trying to explain to you what kind of drink I have. Also, when it is sunny out you can see right through the knicker-less yoga pants front AND back!

A PSA for Gentlemen! “Contain your balls!” I am thrilled that when you hit middle age you decided to take up jogging and or cycling! BUT, please note! Those booty basketball shorts you once fit into, and are now screaming for mercy like a band or cummerbund, placed between your girth and crotch leaving one or both balls to hang out! Do you not feel one of your balls dangling out of the shorts as you peddle on your bike?! How about it slapping when you are attempting to jog? Where are your knickers?!!! Again, I do NOT need to be eye-level with your scrotum when you are asking about my drink!

Another I think useful PSA would be for dog owners “Please STOP talking about your dog! No one cares! ( note, I am a dog owner as well!) But I do not insist that EVERYONE walking by has to comment and pet Cujo! I don’t want to see Bingo rollover, lick and hump my leg. I do NOT care what kind of dog he is, or his sad tale of how you rescued him! I am sitting ALONE at this table TRYING to enjoy my drink, sans dog because I want to avoid these conversations! How dare I reveal I too have a dog and yet chose not to bring him out! Yes, I am a selfish person and do not feel like engaging with other dog people right now! My God! it is not as though he is tied up to the fire escape in one hundred degrees weather! He is home in an air-conditioned house ensconced on a VERY pricey sofa probably licking his balls without a care in the world!

An additional PSA I think would be extremely formidable right now is NOT being shamed if I forget my recyclable grocery bag!  # StopBagShaming .Trust me, Skippy the cashier at the grocery store already did ENOUGH shaming by bellowing out: “THAT WILL BE FIVE EXTRA CENTS BECAUSE YOU NEED A PLASTIC BAG!” (Can you shout any louder Skippy? I don’t think they heard you in Scandinavia! )I already have to do the walk of shame home with my plastic bag. The perilous journey is a mere two blocks from the grocery store! I am like Hester from The Scarlet Letter! I attempt to ignore the looks and tongue clucking, and muttered comments! A situation that could very easily turn into the infamous scene from The Lottery! How about A bag PSA? “Attention people, to err is human! We all at one time or another have needed to use a plastic bag! Don’t be a bag shamer and abuser! I mean I think plastic bag carriers get more abuse than an altar boy by a priest!

I realize, there are a lot of stupid people, they need to be told not to eat glass, have sex with farm animals, and not to use detergent pods as mints. I look at the Grand Cheeto telling his disciples to drink bleach and I get it…. How about a PSA for “Orange is the new Stupid?...

Chapter One Hundred-Fifteen: Ma’am and a three way with Jonas Salk…

Nowadays it seems like I need to wear one of those Forensic HazMat suits whilst cleaning my house. Upon entering teenage son’s room to clean, I am happy and reassured that my Tetanus vaccination is current. I feel like an archeologist in ruins. Sifting through artifacts with instead of a brush and pick my tool of choice is a Swiffer, garbage bag, and various cleansers.

Finished, I move on to my fridge where a multitude of science experiments are forming. It looks like I am growing penicillin in there with all of the various molds. I reckon Alexander Fleming would be proud of my mold accumulation. I could totally give him a run for his money!
I should Google to see if they are offering any paid case studies on findings in one’s home for the good of science. I surmise that lurking in my home has got to be a cure for something. Completing my task of cleaning and its discoveries makes me realize I need to contact the insurance company in regards to my yearly flu shot. This mission seems to be more intricate than navigating the Alp size dust mountains within my home.

A phone call with the insurance company turns into an all-day fiasco of a stew of nonsense! I am relegated into automated hell. FINALLY, after several hours I hear a human voice. Skippy the millennial rep, informs me that I need to call the pharmacy and then bring him in on a three way. I laugh wittingly and share with Skippy that I do not participate in Ménage Trois’! My humor is not appreciated! Confused Husband enters the room to ask what’s for dinner? (Keep in mind it is only late afternoon!) I reply I haven’t the faintest as I am trying to figure out how to have a three-way with the insurance guy and the pharmacist. He replies “My aren’t you upping your game!” Keep on with the jokes mister!
Walking by teenage son’s Zoom class and hearing “Who’s that old homeless person in the background?” Makes me realize I need new pajamas. I wasn’t aware that I was included in the Zoom classroom virtual teaching brought in as a show and tell object.

Skippy and the Pharmacist begin to banter back and forth. I imagine this is how Bridget felt when Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver fought over her! This is the closest I will ever come to a duel! I put it on speaker phone so Confused Husband can hear these two males fighting over me! He shakes his head and bellows:”You know the insurance rep gets paid to defend you! Actually, he is defending the insurance company because they don’t want to pay anything extra, and the Pharmacist isn’t fighting over you! He is insisting on a co-pay! They aren’t dueling over you! They are dueling over a co-pay!” (Leave it to him to rain on my parade! He cant even throw me a bone! I have just risked life and limb in order to clean our home and fridge and this is the thanks I get!)

My life is not for me to be dressed elegantly and sipping tea in the garden whilst two swash buckling men duel over me. My forte in life is to wear ratty pajamas, and look homeless to a bunch of teens while cleaning fungus in my home, have two men one a millennial probably in a flannel shirt and fedora arguing with a curmudgeon pharmacist over whether I am worthy or not for a flu shot. Meanwhile the man I had children with, who’s dirty underwear I wash, as well as tolerate his platypus type snoring cannot even indulge me in my fantasy of two men dueling over me! Sensing he may have hurt my feelings he announces:” If growing mold were an Olympic sport, then you would be taking home the gold! I bet Salk would like a three way with you!”

Yes, these are the pathetic crumbs he throws me…

Chapter One Hundred-Fourteen: Ma’am’s homage to Spanx…

The closest I have come to scuba diving is wearing a full unit Spanx. Which obviously is hidden under garments. I CANNOT imagine wearing only a Spanx and then jumping into the ocean. I would look like a sausage swimming around to some hungry shark. I would definitely become his next meal. My story would be on the eleven o’clock news with some catchy title like: ”Sausage of the sea…”

I remember when Spanx first came out. All of these emaciated actresses were saying it’s their secret weapon. I drank the Kool-Aid thinking I would look like Gwyneth if I crammed my middle aged body into these sausage encasement contraption. I couldn’t breathe! My circulation was cut off! I was in pain! Also, it only covered my torso. What about my fat arms flapping like a bird? I looked like the Michelin Man!

Another thing is, wrapped in my Spanx I sweat. I am already in the throes of hot flashes. Now because of Spanx my flashes have become more intense! Also, they squeak when I walk like a rubber suit. When I purchased my first Spanx I was super excited! Almost as if I had found the PERFECT dress.

I locked my bedroom door and began the what turned out to be hour long process of compressing into my Spanx. I imagine this is how Fat Elvis felt attempting to squeeze into his jumpsuit twenty years later, and seventy-five pounds heavier. It dawned on me that like Fat Elvis I needed a Colonel and the chosen one was my son who was five at the time to assist me in obtaining my Twiggy like shape. He had to “help” mommy in and out of them. It was a game. I would say over and over: “It takes a village!”

An hour or so after beginning this ridiculous feat I was truly exhausted and sweaty from this backbreaking endeavor. It really is a two person job! I felt like I was being crushed! I waddled over to the mirror and the sight before me was HORRENDOUS! I looked like a vat of jello crammed into a sausage encasement! Flesh color Spanx was NOT a good choice! I slipped my clothes over the flesh colored sausage cocoon. Staring back at me was a muffin top looking shape, or an ill wrapped dumpling. My back-fat and stomach had been pushed towards my chest. I now had Dolly Parton size boobs that were just weird! I looked disproportioned.

Because of my lack of circulation I walked like Herman Munster. If I held my arms straight out, I could do a great Mummy interpretation! Walking like a penguin into the kitchen to show Confused Husband my new shape. He stared at me and then said:”Is that your Halloween costume? Are you a sausage?”

One day at school, a fellow teacher said that “I looked nice”. My son overheard and said: ” It takes a village! If only you knew what was under her clothes!” I was GOBSMACKED as was the giver of the compliment!

Years later I still wear Spanx, but now I know how to wear them. I feel like Clark Kent and they are my “S”under my clothes, instead of standing for Superman they stand for Spanx. I may walk like Herman Munster and be unable to breathe, but like Fat Elvis I too feel confident in my jumpsuit….

Chapter One Hundred-Thirteen: A Lunatic and his fringe…

Shaving my legs lately has been like an Indiana Jones excursion. I truly need a machete to get through the untamed wilderness. I picture myself with Indiana’s infamous hat on and rope lasso. I thought as we aged the hair process would diminish. Ha! I was never hairy, now I look like a muppet. I am EXHAUSTED after hacking through the hair jungle. If I left my leg hair untouched any longer, I could pose as Sasquatch and charge tickets for a photo op. With all the hair gone,  I have to admit, my legs look thinner! I feel ten pounds lighter! 

I decide to celebrate my newfound weight loss by purchasing a bottle of Rosé ! I don my Covid mask and basically skip over to the liquor store. I twirl and admire my thinner, hairless legs! I smile behind my mask ignoring my sweat and Darth Vader like breathing.  I choose my Rosé like I am a Sommelier on a mission. Heading to the checkout I lock eyes with Skippy the probably underaged teen manning the register. I laugh at the irony of this and through mask ask if he needs to see my ID since I have a face mask on and it’s hard to tell how old I am( my thinner, hairless legs are like my invisible super hero cape!) He snorts and then exaggeratively chuckles and says: ” No need! I can see from the crows feet around your eyes you’re about my Gran’s age.” WTF?!!! I glare at Skippy with laser like crows nest weapons. Wishing that I could truly shoot lasers out at him! I would laser that existing smirk behind his mask right off of his stupid face!

Exiting the shop a man says “Nice mask MISS!” he called me MISS! “Ha take that Skippy you snarky, ill mannered teen!” 

With my new found confidence I leap home! This is how Mary Tyler Moore must have felt during her legendary tossing of the hat scene! I have no hat to toss, so I rip off my mask tossing it high in the air, twirling on my hairless, youthful pins! My Mary Tyler Moore moment is ruined when a passerby shouts out:” Ma’am put your mask back on!” Moment ruined I look at my heckler. His mask covers the majority of his face. He has a Friar Tuck hair- do going on. He is a lunatic with fringe.  He has ruined my youthful, hairless moment! I will bet money that Skippy in the liquor store is his spawn! No one called MTM Ma’am and told  her to put her hat back on.

Yup, I am old, I am Ma’am…

Chapter One Hundred-Twelve: Ma’am and the Monikers….

Confused Husband tries to Mansplain a sports event to me. This is unrequested by moi. I could care less about some neanderthal’s chasing after a ball as they knock the crap out of each other. Confused Husband fancies himself as a witty raconteur. This is up for debate. He is also really bad at remembering people’s names. Hence he has given my friends monikers. We have “Sophie’s Choice” whose name is Sue and she can’t make a choice to save her life. At least he got the S part right! It can take what seems like years for her to make any kind of decision. It is like living through the real life version of War and Peace with the length of time that passes waiting for her to decide on something. When we are in restaurants and she has to order it becomes the MOST annoying thing! Confused Husband SWEARS he watched the entire Scarface movie on his phone while we were waiting for her to decide what kind of dressing she wanted on her salad. Another example, my friend well let’s call her “H” is referred to as “The Holland Tunnel”. She is in her late fifties single and has lots of visitors passing through her tunnel. He dubbed her this moniker years ago, as she likes to talk about her”visitors”. Then there is the extremely wealthy friend. She complains about ridiculous things like her cleaner ( full time) forgot to iron her sheets. He has christened her “Thinks she’s Oprah”. She sends me pictures of her exotic trips and says things like “Wish you were here!” I couldn’t even afford the suitcases she travels with let alone the airline ticket! 

Next we have the friend designated “The Librarian”. She always has her nose in a book and is constantly suggesting chic rom com books for Confused Husband to read. For example, he will come into the room asking “Where are my glasses?” She will say: “This sounds like the book I am reading! Desperate Passions! George is legally blind and loses his glasses on a double decker bus in London. Sara the American who is a famous ophthalmologist finds them!” She becomes extremely animated while narrating this RIDICULOUS scenario.  I watch as Confused Husbands eyes glaze over and he goes into”The Zone”. I know this look oh too well, as it crosses his face frequently whilst I am trying to have a conversation with him.

Another friend whom he knighted the “Winds of War” because of the endless hot air she spews, and her always wanting to cause conflict and war.She is constantly trying to debate. His go to example is one day he came into the kitchen and I asked him if he wanted a coffee? He asked for tea. She went on a confrontational rant about how coffee was offered but he asked for tea which wasn’t on the table, she then challenged him to a cantankerous  conversation about his selfish need for tea when he was offered coffee and should be grateful for the offer in the first place. He muttered on his way out that this is why she was divorced and her ex absconded to Scandinavia and deleted all of his social media to escape from her.

Then there’s the “Phone-A-Holic.” She calls and rambles on and on and I could( and have) literally put the phone down and come back and she is still yammering away much ado about nothing. He laments on how these woman are so tiresome like he has to hang out with them. My friends that he does like are usually the ones that he actually makes an effort engaging with. He is also annoyed like it’s my fault that the majority of my friends do not have husband’s!He blames me that they are divorced or never married! I could say the same for the majority of his motley crew as they are perpetual bachelor’s over fifty. Still wearing ill fitting sports shirts and living like they are straight out of college in their poster ridden Ikea apartments. I love my single friends way too much to set them up with his friends. I am like George Costanza never wanting my two world’s to meet. It would be a disaster! Our conversations go something like this:

Confused Husband:” Did I tell you that I saw “The Winds Of War” at the grocery store and she was arguing with the manager about The Pillsbury Doughboy having white privilege? Then at Starbucks I had to hide because “The Librarian” was in there holding her mock book club to her captured audience aka the other customers.” “Thinks she’s Oprah” added me to her thread from her safari, all day wild animals were showing up on my phone it is ANNOYING as hell!”

Me:” Well, please tell your friends I am NOT having another laundry tutorial! They are GROWN men and they still can’t figure out a washing machine! Also, “Mr. Casanova” keeps liking “The Holland Tunnels” Instagram stories and you need to inform him that he has a snowball chance in hell of zipping through that tunnel!”

Yes, these are our friends….

Chapter One Hundred-Eleven: No one puts a hot sweaty Ma’am in the corner…

I am always hot. I don’t mean hot like sexy, I mean hot like friggen boiling! This is due to menopause. I sweat like a nun in a cucumber patch. I have massive hot flashes that make me look like the Heat Miser from that claymation Christmas show. All red and sweaty and just a hot mess!  Now I find out that some menopausal women are being turned away from stores because if their temperature is taken during a hot flash then the thermometer registers as having a fever FUCK! I can’t win! It’s already stressful enough going into a store because of Covid, now to perhaps being perceived by Skippy the store temperature taker as having a fever and be seen by others as Typhoid Mary is RIDICULOUS!

We need to have medical ID bracelets that say PATIENT HAS MENOPAUSE! Proceed with caution! I also would like to be able to apply for a Handicapped parking pass. It is an ailment and should be recognized as such.  I am also tired of having my face melt off in my mask like a Salvador Dali painting. Why bother putting makeup on? Why can’t they make makeup for menopausal women?

I watch movies and fantasize that’s me. I am not sweaty and discombobulated, I am lithe and carefree. I can wear a handkerchief of a dress and not have it look like a saturated, sweaty gauze wrap, basically like a menopausal mummy. I am not sweating, I am glistening! I want to be the one Patrick Swayze marches up to and rescues from the corner!  But alas, that is not my forte. I am delegated to reside in a nook,  like a sweaty potato left overcooked in the corner of the oven, while all of the other non-mushy, non-sweaty vegetables are chosen.

I am wallowing in my sweaty misery on the couch. Confused Husband plops down next to me and asks me to scootch into the couch corner…

Chapter One Hundred-Ten: Ma’am and the Marie Kondo Tiger King…

Confused Husband watching Marie Kondo is like his version of watching porn. He has a ridiculous smile on his face and says things like: “Look at that!” “Wow!” He shakes his head in awe as she rolls clothes, places them in baskets that are labeled. He acts like she has just found the vaccine for Covid-19. Turning to me, he says: “Why can’t we do this?” He is obsessed with organizing and no clutter. I on the other hand like to collect things.

He heads into the kitchen stands in front of the open fridge freaking out like he just found a naked man inside. “Everything has its place!” he announces. Interesting coming from the man who has never actually put his dirty clothes in the hamper, usually they are dropped on the floor like a trail of bread crumbs.

He gets extremely excited throwing things out. He institutes his”Kondo” as he calls it while talking to the items. He speaks to the products like they are people going on a trip. To the ones he is chucking in the trash bin, he clucks and says sympathetically:” Sorry you were sitting there collecting mold.” ” I guess no one here likes artichoke hearts.” “I have no idea what you were, but well happy travels.” The fortunate ones who are granted a stay of execution are put back with fanfare and encouraging words like they have accomplished something extraordinary by not growing mold, or expiring. He takes his cleaning out the fridge position very seriously. I mean who does he think he is Oskar Schindler?

My take on the whole Kondo phenomenon is having a house devoid of stuff would not feel like a home to me. I enjoy my teapot, book, and tin collections. He would be happy with just a couch and no tchotchke’s what so ever. He forces me to watch Tiger King, and the entire time he is saying things like Marie Kondo needs to help Tiger King clean out his trailer! Look how messy those tiger cages are! He recites the Kondo method for the 6 rules of tidying. He is laser-focused on the clutter the Tiger King has. He mentions “Live a life that sparks joy!” Like a cult follower. It is RIDICULOUS!

During this bizarre exchange, he proclaims” I think Marie Kondo should come on Tiger King and help him organize the zoo! now that would make great television!” (I can see one of the tigers eating Marie Kondo for a snack.) I tell him that is another one of his ridiculous ideas! He accuses me of being jealous of Marie Kondo. He then suggests that we have Marie Kondo come to our home to “Kondo” it! I retort if that happens then Marie Kondo can “Kondo” our divorce. He is quiet after that.

We finish Tiger King and find out that he is in jail. Oh well, I guess that Marie Kondo won’t be headed over to the zoo anytime soon. Confused Husband then recites Marie Kondo’s philosophy to me:

“Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.” I inform Confused Husband that he is getting really close with this nonsense to me putting him in that pile…

Chapter One Hundred-Nine: Ma’am and the Mad Beekeeper…

Navigating the grocery store experience nowadays is like partaking in an episode of the Hunger Games or a scene from Game of Thrones. We adorn our Covid attire. Masks and gloves. Confused Husband has added a hat to his pandemic fashion. He looks like an insane beekeeper. I am truthfully embarrassed by his outfit and keep a good social distance six feet away. Since my hands have been getting sweaty in the latex gloves, I have put on my long satin evening gloves. I feel like this is how Audrey Hepburn would dress during a pandemic. At the store, Confused Husband maneuvers the cart like he is driving in the Indy 500. No turn signal, no consideration for the other shoppers. I attempt to harness in his erratic cart driving but words through my mask sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

He like road signs disobeys the one-way arrows. Did I mention he learned to drive in Turkey? We lived in Turkey, I drove in Turkey and it’s every person for themselves! It’s like a scene from that crazy car race movie The Cannonball Run! I now dub him the Mad Beekeeper. He almost runs over a senior citizen in produce by the cauliflower which he quotes Mark Twain;” Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education ” I tell him to put the college-educated cabbage in the cart and keep going.

He makes a sharp left almost taking out a pregnant woman because like a kid he follows the shiny object which in his case are bags of almonds. He tosses those into the cart and instructs me like Louis Gossett JR. to Richard Gere in An Officer And A Gentleman by hollering: “Mayonnaise !” as he zooms to the condiment aisle. The Mad Beekeeper seems to be in some sort of race with himself.

In his clueless wake are frustrated shoppers. Thank goodness we are all in masks like the witness protection program hiding in plain sight. He searches for brownie mix and has no regard for social distancing. He is in his own zone. I roll my eyes to blend in with the other shoppers in the hope of covering up the fact that I even know him. Forget about being married and having children with him! Nope, I am like Rose from Titanic floating on the door and he is Jack bopping in the cold ocean. It is self-preservation at its finest.

When no one is looking I throw things in the cart and then socially distance myself from him. It is as if Mr. Magoo has been left alone in Giant. I watch as he takes corners on two wheels of the shopping cart, at a speed that I wasn’t aware shopping carts could go. he is a mad beekeeper on a mission and no one can stop him!

He bellows through his mask that we need eggs. Beekeeper hat askew on his head, he looks insane and people nervously glance around to see who he is speaking to. I become extremely interested in reading the ingredients on a can of soup.

He then heads to aisle five and informs its unfortunate occupants that it’s taco night but because of the CEO of Goya’s allegiance to the Cheeto in chief, there will be no cans of black beans in his cart! No Goya products PERIOD! a man in a dumb-looking homemade mask accuses him of being racist. Because of the masks, it is hard to understand what they are saying. I scuttle away and wait in the frozen food section as I am having a massive hot flash. My once lovely satin gloves are now stained and drenched in sweat. This would NEVER happen to Audrey! The pearls I added as a last-minute touch are stuck to my skin because of the sweat. They have made unattractive indentations on my skin. Instead of Audrey, I now look like a menopausal Wilma Flintstone. It is tragic!

The Mad Beekeeper approaches after holding court in front of the taco shells. He says he explained to the guy Phil who called him a racist about the boycott of Goya. Pleased with himself he says he stopped several customers from buying Goya products. But then Skippy the stock boy told him to keep moving and he had to march on from his protest. He is chuffed with himself. I just want to buy groceries not star in a reenactment of Norma Rae with the Mad Beekeeper on aisle five.

Ironically considering his present ensemble he is perusing the honey and announces that he is thinking about going into beekeeping. It would be cheaper to “capture some bees and force them to make honey then paying eight bucks for a little jar.” he states. I explain that I don’t think you just capture bees and force them like indentured servants to make honey. He adjusts his ridiculous hat and sighing tosses a jar of honey into the cart. There are some muffled things said like: ” Crush all his dreams, blah, blah, blah”.

We make a detour down the dairy aisle where he runs into his former arch-nemesis Phil who is now his co-protestor in arms. Phil is telling a woman who is merely trying to buy milk about the protest in aisle five in regards to Goya products. She says she saw something on the news but was only buying milk and since they are not made by Goya she really needs to get going. Too late! between Phil and the Mad Beekeeper, they have cornered her and are dragging her into their aisle five protest. She pleadingly looks at me and I give her a sympathetic look. (She would be giving me one if she knew I was married to one of her kidnappers.)

There is a disturbance in aisle five. A man with an electric scooter is filling his basket with Goya products. He said someone on Fox News told him to do so.

Here we go!

The Mad Beekeeper and Phil verbally assault the schmuck on the electric scooter! They tell him in purchasing these items he is bankrolling the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue diatribe of hate. Scooter Man says he just wants beans.

A lady in what looks like a hazmat suit chimes in and tells Scooter Man that he is “contributing to hate and division in our country with his grocery purchases. And why the fuck is he listening to a nincompoop on Fox News in the first place? or even watching that channel?” she asks. A war of words ensues. I am desperately attempting to get the Mad Beekeeper’s attention even though he is the catalyst for the uproar on aisle five, I need to get home and take a cold shower. He is having his Norma Rae moment and there is no stopping him!

I am pretty sure that Scooter Man obnoxiously said something like “black beans matter.” All hell breaks loose. It is hard to decipher what was said because of the swathe of masks making the words jumbled. It is a circus of ridiculousness! Skippy the stock boy tries to break it up, but it is definitely above his paygrade. Out of the chaos emerges the Mad Beekeeper. He looks like he alone has knocked down the Berlin Wall. Taking control of the cart he moves along like a man with a purpose. I look back and see that an angry mob has surrounded Scooter Man. I feel like I am watching the infamous scene from Shirley Jackson’s book The Lottery.

We head to the checkout and announced over the store’s PA: “Clean up on aisle five…”

Chapter One Hundred-Eight: Ma’am and Next Door…

I am obsessed with the website Next Door. For those of you unfamiliar it’s a place to connect with neighbors. You can talk about comings and goings in your neighborhood, sell things, post things, complain, network, you name it. I find it hysterical! For instance: Dan and Bunny have posted that they both work from home. Apparently, Dan is writing the next great American novel. He shares that his most creative writing time is between 10:00 am- 1:00 pm. ( Yup three hours) He is complaining about the use of leaf blowers, car horns, garbage trucks, to name a few, are causing immense noise pollution and because of this, he cannot work. He laments that he must take his laptop and walk over to Starbucks to work(seriously). Here’s the thing, we LIVE in the city! There is NOISE! Bunny interjects that she is a life coach and whilst she is ” life coaching”, the obnoxious invasive noises in the background disturb the atmosphere for her and her clients. My suggestion? Close your windows put on your central air and problem solved! I also am wondering just how good a life coach this Bunny is that she has to go on Next Door to help her solve her current dilemma? Of course, I don’t post this, I am merely a voyeur to this stew of nonsense.

A guy named Hal retorts pretty much what I was thinking, and is lambasted like crazy from some other work at homers named Gerry, Phan, Karl, Sam, Tucker, Lynn, and Fay. They are like a gang obliterating poor Hal. They have an abusive thread running like Niagra Falls. Hal is the schmuck in the barrel going over the falls. Skip and Jen come to Hal’s defense saying that Hal was merely offering a remedy for the situation. Hal who I assume is sweating like a nun in a cucumber patch at this point, posts a ‘Thank’ with a smiling emoji to his defenders.

Someone named Pru gets on this verbal train of abuse and points out that Hal must not work from home, although she doesn’t either but can see the side of the homers. She kisses up to them, and then goes on a diatribe of how much she respects people who work from home! The accolades she praises upon them is nauseating! Pru acts like they are home finding a cure for Covid in their at-home labs! Pru also throws in that the sirens from the fire trucks should have set times when they can blow their sirens because they are waking her up with their ridiculous middle of the night siren blasts.

She gets about 12 thumbs up emojis from this LUDICROUS statement. Someone named Holly sarcastically points out that so Pru can sleep, the firehouse should schedule their fires around her sleeping pattern.

Hal who seems to have rallied back, responds by stating how crazy Pru sounds. The DC Nine as I now label them go after Hal like a scene from Les Mis. Phan states that calling someone CRAZY is racist and wrong. Gerry seconds that and then someone named Connie says it’s not racist just wrong and she complains about the people walking at night in front of her house from the bars, are drunk, loud and sometimes peeing into her flower pots. Tucker from the DC Nine gang chimes in that at least she has flower pots as his were stolen off his stoop. Mitch asks Tucker if he has filed a police report?

A know it all named Dez states these are first world problems people! Then dares to point out that he is paying his housekeeper and nanny regularly even though they are not there working because of Covid and suggests everyone should do the same. ((Says the man who ironically claimed the others were having first-world issues!). Muffy adds that she is also paying her pool man and gardener as well. Then she sits back and is praised by the other one percent online like she is Mother Teresa.

A newcomer named Doug who just wants to sell his couch inadvertently steps into this minefield thread. He posts several pictures of this brown monstrosity of a couch followed by a description worthy of an NYT bio. He is a virtual Willy Loman! Fay from the DC Nine first informs Doug that his couch is an abomination to furniture and interior decorator’s as she is one and he should donate it to a homeless shelter and do it as a tax write off because no one in their right mind would buy that! Phil chimes in why is it good enough for a homeless shelter but not for anyone else?

Doug thanks Phil and points out that his couch is extremely comfortable and doubles as a bed. ( I have got to give Doug credit for pushing this couch!) Phil then responds that he saw someone whose name was either Brett or Brent on the website who was looking for a couch. Doug thanks Phil and then the gang goes after Doug for being so selfish for trying to sell his couch and not donate it. Doug replies that he needs the cash from the couch for a plane ticket to go see his dad. He is a student.

The ever-helpful Phil asks why his dad doesn’t pay for Doug’s plane ticket, and Doug shares that his dad is not financially able. Phil tells Doug to start a Go Fund Me for his airplane money because he points out that Doug will need a couch to sit on when he returns. The DC Nine on their self-righteous soapbox says you cannot start a go fund me on Next Door! Dan and Bunny claim that they know someone who was fined for doing that!

Karl from the gang says he is going to Google the rules of Next Door because he is a retired attorney. (Umm.. an attorney who is Googling to get his information?) I refrain from typing my cornucopia of questions for this supposed attorney. No worries! Brave Hal does this for me. He questions Karl’s professionalism in this matter. Uh oh, the gang goes after Hal like flies on shit.

Another person named Boston Ben comments on how this is all so high school and bully pulpit behavior. Seconds later an entourage of assaults are thrown at Boston Ben by the Gang of Nine. There are threats of”What do you know Mr. Bean Town?” “Want to get thrown off this ship like the tea in your harbor?!” Ben goes mute.

Entering into this shit show is someone named Flynn. He shares that his father in law is visiting from Pakistan and was out walking the other day. He was in the alleyway behind their house and according to Flynn, his father in law couldn’t believe all of the wasted food people were throwing out! He was seen rummaging through trash cans, taking pictures and someone called the police. Now he has to appear in court. Karl the questionable attorney asks the most ridiculous questions such as: ” Was he going to eat the food?” “Was he on their property or in the actual alleyway?” “Does he look homeless?”

Flynn goes off on Karl as expected and calls Karl a bigot. Flynn said that his father in law was stating his position to show the waste that he witnesses when people are starving. Flynn also points out that his father in law is a retired Professor of economics and a huge advocate for helping the underprivileged. Fay from the gang asks if Flynn’s dad has been properly vetted by Homeland Security? Hence causing a grenade to be tossed into this whole thread. It is like watching a train wreck and you cannot turn away.

There is name-calling, lawsuits threatened, politics brought in, just one big cluster! I am a witness to the absurd! The thread is vicious and long! Everyone pipes in. A woman named Beth whose dog was missing just the other day and posted this sweet, tearful message when her dog Otis was found, now has the mouth of a sailor. Karl the dubious attorney posts his contact info for potential lawsuits. Bunny the lifestyle coach attempts to use her skills to calm everyone down. Doug during all of this mayhem, asks Phil if he could help him start a Go Fund Me page if his couch doesn’t sell by five today. Mitch again asks if Tucker has filed a police report on those stolen flower pots? Pru asks if anyone else is willing to march with her to the firehouse and confront the firemen about their inconsiderate middle of the night siren blasts?

This circus continues. I begin to wonder if this is why the people who work from home can’t get any work done? It is like falling down a rabbit hole that you can’t get out of. I see this thread as becoming longer than War and Peace. Tonight I will read this instead of my book. I need to know the ending! I feel like I am reading a bad Tele Novella! But these burning questions linger:

Can Doug sell his couch and get his plane ticket home?

Will Pru march on the firehouse?

Will Karl get any clients?

Did Tucker file a police report for the stolen flower pots?

Can Fay be kicked off Next Door for being a racist?

How can Bunny and Dan ever find solace working from home?