Chapter One Hundred Forty-One: Captain Sully where art thou?…

Packing for this trip is stressing me out. I weigh my ridiculous Keyser Soze suitcase and, it is over the 50-pound limit( like its owner). I decide to pull out my underwear and pour those into my carry-on hoping the customs agent will think I am importing tents, and not realize they are my granny undies that could probably house a small family as shelter. I feel like Sophie in the movie Sophie’s choice. I pick which one will stay and which will go. My suitcase, like my life, is a stew of nonsense. I am EXHAUSTED! I am also not a good flyer, I have gotten an alert on my phone from the airline as I am doing my online check-in. They are informing me that because of my seat location, I will be assisting the flight attendant with the emergency exit door in case of an emergency. First of all, I want to answer back to them: “Do you not vet your passengers properly?” I am the WORST person to have to assist in a potential emergency! Especially one that involves opening a door thirty-five thousand feet up in the air. What are we going to parachute out and land on a nice island? I THINK NOT! I can guarantee you that I am CHARLIE BROWN! Captain Sully will NOT be my pilot landing smoothly on the water, plane intact. I will have Skippy who is on his first transatlantic flight. He will have a reaction from either his acne medication or the fish that he inhaled during the flight. Rusty his trusty co-pilot will announce in a semi-panicked tone if: “There are any pilots on board?”(I guess Rusty never got the memo that he is a pilot.)
A sketchy passenger who looks like Jerry Garcia, and is probably on the same stuff as Jerry Garcia, will come forward and stagger to the cockpit. We will find out from Ingrid, the stoic and sweat-resistant flight attendant that Jerry Garcia doppelgänger grew up on a farm in Indiana and would accompany his grandfather Henry in the crop duster. I will hone in on the word “ACCOMPANY” and tell myself that it’s another word for passenger. He was only riding shot-gun in Grandpa Henry’s plane.
There will be panic and screaming ensuing, and it will be coming from me! Yes, this is where my mind goes upon reading my marching orders from the airline. How about you send me an alert offering me an upgrade, say to FIRST CLASS? How about you send me an alert that my bag is FREE? and not more than a ticket to Florida? I am just saying…
I also am very selective about what I eat before I fly. I call it the Last Supper. It could refer to Jesus and his last supper BEFORE he was crucified, or an inmate on death row and their final supper. Pick one neither is a good thing. I don’t want the plane to be going down, and I am thinking: “I should have had the lobster!”.
So with my Keyser Soze suitcase, my vagina breathing travel pants, and my hoping that I hear “This is Captain Sully” and not: “This is Captain Skippy, and his trusty co-pilot, Rusty”.
I begin my stew of nonsense journey…

Chapter One Hundred Forty: Keyser Soze abroad…

I am going on a trip overseas. I am very excited. After being sequestered, in place for the last year, I feel like a bird about to be free from its cage. I imagine myself in the airport all chic and matching, gliding through the international terminal, destination unknown. I am Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn! I toss my perfectly wrapped scarf around my neck in a “Je ne sais quoi” fashion. My overly large sunglasses scream “Film Star!”
Unfortunately, this is fast-lived as Confused Husband brings home my new luggage. I am no longer Grace Kelly. I am more like Marge Simpson. It looks like something Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High would use to transport his dope in, or one of the Golden Girls lost her luggage and, Confused Husband found it. The cornucopia of garish colors used to paint this LUDICROUS beach scene on the outside of my suitcase. It is a row of surfboards as though they are surfboard criminals in a police line-up. I am wondering which surfboard is Keyser Soze, in the line-up.
Perhaps it was a cheap freebie from a Vegas win. Whatever, it screams DUMB AMERICAN traveling abroad. I imagine well-seasoned travelers with their matching expensive – luggage snickering and shaming me as I walk past wheeling this stew of nonsense behind me.
I envision my luggage being- mocked by the other bags in the cargo section on the plane. Like, the kid at recess whose mother forced him to wear the salmon-colored crochet sweater that she attempted to make for him. Ridiculed and called names by the other bags. Alone in the corner at the bottom of the plane.
I will look like a cartoon character wheeling my bag through the airport. I attempt to explain this to Confused Husband, who retorts: “No one will even notice!” Coming from the man who notices NOTHING, NADA, RIEN. He would be the absolute WORST witness in any situation. I cannot rely on his opinion. I ask One Too Many(teen son). He informs me to: “Hang ten and how gnarly my bag is!” and goes on a surfer dude reenactment. I know he is doling out this parody of a pantomime at my expense.
I explain to Confused Husband that I want to be taken seriously as a traveler and NOT look like an Idiot Abroad.
The expression on his face says it all. He has zoned out and is probably imagining, all of the fun he will have when I am gone. He says: “It’s a good suitcase and expandable. Who cares what the outside looks like?” I begin a text thread of my suitcase debacle. Daughter number three suggests I wrap it in vinyl. Daughter number one sends laughing emojis. Son-in-law wants me to keep it.
I decide if my suitcase looks like a stew of nonsense, at least my travel ensemble won’t. I GOOGLE: “Chic travel outfits” and pull up several ideas. Of course, the models in the photos are six inches taller than me and weigh as much as one of my legs. I then get on Amazon and search for comfy travel pants. I find a gorgeous color one, yet the description is less than desirable. It states: “Traps moisture! Allows your vagina to breathe! I was not aware my vagina needed oxygen? Does this mean I can pee in them on the plane? Do they have those astronaut diapers built in them? I wonder if I can fashion them into a face mask? I get on the live chat and speak with someone named Yvonne. I am asking her what I think are legitimate questions. Yvonne doesn’t seem to like her job. I can sense her snippy attitude through her typing. I wasn’t the one who wrote the pant description! I wonder aloud if perhaps Yvonne has never even read the depiction of the company that she works for?
She suggests that I wait until they arrive and then try them on. I ask if they have built-in Depends? Yvonne asks: “What are Depends?” I type in adult diapers. She types back that perhaps I need to look in the incontinence section. I type back that I am not incontinent, but am curious to know about the traps moisture part of the advert. I then explain how my hot flashes make me all sweaty and discombobulated. I also point out that I have to tinkle a lot. Somehow, I get disconnected from Yvonne.
I turn my attention to my Keyser Soze surfboard suitcase as I now dub it. I have to make sure that as much as I can hide the LUDICROUS beach scene. I consider spray painting it but then worry about the fumes seeping into the interior of the case and all of my stuff reeking of spray paint. I even contemplate wallpapering it. I just do not have the bandwidth to deal with this.
Confused Husband looks like one of those Price is Right models as he demonstrates all of the bells and whistles that come with the Keyser Soze surfboard model. (Relax Bucko! It’s just a suitcase!). This pitiful Willy Loman-Esque demonstration is making me queasy. I must deter from this atrocity and have the attention brought to my fashionable traveling attire.
I leave Confused Husband and Keyser Soze alone, and immerse myself in Googling my future stylish traveling outfit, just in case the vagina breathing, moisture trapping pants don’t work out. I begin to chat with someone named Thom and wonder if he pronounces his name TH-OM like TH in thing? Or if it’s Tom? I ask since I need to make sure he is on my side, unlike Yvonne with the attitude. He writes back that it is actually pronounced PHOM. I want to type “WHAT THE PHUCK PHOM!” but decided against it. I share with Thom pronounced Phom the abomination that Confused Husband wheeled into our home. I explain the Keyser Soze surfboard line-up that dominates the outside of the suitcase. Thom/Phom types back: “Who is Keyser Soze?” ”Exactly!” I type back he then sends me question marks. (I really need to find employees on these live chat things that know what is going on!)
I type back: “Unlike caring that Keyser Soze is actually Kevin Spacey, and not a made-up person, my Keyser Soze surfboard debacle literally exists!” Thom/Phom types back: “Kevin Spacey is a pervert!” I type back: “Yes, but we didn’t know this when he was Keyser Soze! Look, Thom/Phom I am trying to find out if the women’s flowing floral skirt has pockets? because if it does I want to order it in case the breathable vagina, moisture trapping pants don’t work out for me. I am channeling my inner Audrey Hepburn/ Grace Kelly to draw the attention away from Keyser Soze and focus on my chic travel ensemble.”
Thom/Phom types back:” I don’t think it’s appropriate for you to be talking about your vagina to me.” I am FLABBERGASTED! I type back:” YOUR company talked about my vagina! Or, as a matter of fact, their female consumer’s vaginas NOT me!” (They honestly need to give a tutorial to their employees on their products!). Thom/Phom disappears from the screen. I investigate and decide to order the:” Women’s flowing floral skirt” anyway.
Meanwhile, Confused Husband comes into the room wheeling, Keyser Soze behind him. It is like his new friend or pet. He smiles and says: “Just taking it for a test drive!” I glare at him and mutter: “It’s NOT a new car!” (he is a HORRIBLE salesman!).
He asks: “What are you doing?” I retort:” Trying to disguise Keyser Soze by purchasing breathable vagina, moisture trapping travel pants.” …

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Nine: Ma’am’s Super-hero Sausage costume…

I reckon that Spanx is supposed to be a middle-aged woman’s super-hero costume. We are intended, to think that like, Clark Kent, all we have to do is open our shirt to reveal an S but instead of representing SUPERMAN, SUPERWOMAN, it stands for SPANX. Honestly, the S really symbolizes SAUSAGE. Yes, if you have never experienced wearing a SPANX, all I can compare it to is the encasement on the outside of a sausage. But, the inside of the Sausage, what it’s holding in, is not for the faint of heart. Because of Covid restrictions here in DC, you cannot try on clothing. You must purchase it and then bring it home in the hope that it fits when you finally get to try it on. I have returned so many items as of late. I am literally on a first-name basis with every employee, on every shift, at our local TJ MAXX. I have taken back more items than Imelda Marcos had shoes. I lie to myself in the store mirror as I hold up medium-size cotton- summer pants. Sure my inner voice says: ” You can squeeze your Goodyear blimp size ass into these with the help of your sausage encasement.” Your secret weapon! So like the Village idiot and a smile as big, I head home with my purchase.

At my abode, it’s a whole different ball of wax. I am embroiled in a horror movie and, I am playing the first imbecile in the film to enter the dark cellar with a chopstick as my weapon of choice saying: “Hello?” to the serial killer who is lurking at the bottom of the stairs. Splayed out on my bed like a fish out of water, I flop, wiggle, squat, twist, ANY movement to roll the sausage suit and wrap and encase my wobbly bits. Like a scene from The Exorcist, I am the victim of this tragedy, and the only saving grace of this entire tragic scenario is that I am not under fluorescent lights. EXHAUSTED, SWEATY, PANTING, I have only gotten the sausage encasement over my thighs. The struggle is real!

I need assistance in this, but can I call on teenage son AKA One Too Many, who perhaps will be, scarred for life from this situation? Confused Husband doesn’t need to see the truth of what lies next to him at night. Let him have his RIDICULOUS fantasy that you are still that twenty-something with the twenty-six-inch waist. Darkness and no lights are our friends! In the light of day, you are Rita Hayworth.

Rita Hayworth used to say, “They go to bed with Gildathey wake up with me.” In my case, it’s: “Confused Husband goes to bed with a stick, and he wakes up with a sausage.” For a fleeting moment, I wonder if I had just purchased those compression-type pantyhose if it would have been easier? As I lay there in my depleted state, I truly, consider starting a business where you can rent a person to assist you in your Spanx dressing. Candidates must be visually impaired so; there is no embarrassment or awkwardness from the Sausage client. Candidates must also be EXTREMELY- strong, as a lot of brut force goes into capturing all of the loose bits and rolls, and compartmentalizing them. It is truly a task NOT for the weak, not for the queasy stomach.

As I lay dying from this encounter, I wonder aloud if trying to squeeze into these fun summer fashions is worth it? Perhaps, I should just start wearing Muumuus? But I give it that good old college try and wriggle and squiggle like a fat worm into my Spanx. I valiantly try to roll off of the bed in the hopes that when I am standing upright in a vertical position, all the fat will have shifted to its proper place.

The vision of horror reflected in the mirror is astounding! I am the Michelin Man or a Shar-Pei. It is a comedy of errors, a sight for sore eyes, a TRAVESTY… It is a stew of nonsense, a fashion faux pas, an abomination to fashion! I slip on the “Fun-frolic, summer fashions and hope for the best! I bravely open my eyes. Although I cannot breathe, I am astounded, at how smooth and roll-free I look! My back-fat has miraculously been -shifted to my boobs!

From lack of oxygen perhaps, my sight is fuzzy, but I look okay! I do a model walk around my room. It is quite a feat! I may be moving a little like Frankenstein because of the Spanx restriction, but it is worth it! I hum the Superman theme in my head(when he is about to rip off his shirt and reveal his Super-hero costume!) I hum the Wonder Woman theme and leap around as much as my encumbered state allows.

I have discovered my superpower! Albeit not sexy and visually enticing, it does the trick! My confidence grows! My strides are more purposeful and, I feel like I have a secret! I smile at the person in the mirror, ignoring the lack of blood flow and oxygen! Panic sets in! What if I am walking; and, say, get hit by a Fed Ex truck? They will most definitely have to cut me out of my Spanx! The horror of this reality occurring shakes me to my core! (Must Google: “Can I have a DNCS order(DO NOT CUT SPANX) like a DNR order?”)

I model walk into the living room and like Madonna told me way back when:

Strike a pose, strike a pose! Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it

Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it Vogue, vogue.”

I strike my pose and freeze, ignoring my labored breathing, waiting for Confused Husband to say something complimentary…

“Why are you breathing like Darth Vader?”…

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Eight: Ma’am in Wonderland…

I find myself to be the victim of many Rabbit Holes. Like Alice, I just follow that Rabbit wherever he leads me. For example, a friend texts me about an absurd post on the website Nextdoor ( which is supposed to be your friendly neighborhood site for help and information in your hood.) Instead, it turns into a stew of nonsense and, I dive headfirst into it willingly.

Two hours later, after reading an insane diatribe from someone named Luke Skywalker’s Doppelgänger. I have investigated him and found out that he is a twice-divorced, bankrupt, unemployed IT tech. I even through Google maps, locate his house, and do a walk-by with my dog to see if anything suspicious is afoot. I have concluded, all because of his post, that he is either a Jeffrey Dahmer or Una- bomber type.

I am on the case! Confused Husband who thought we were JUST going for a walk is absurdly unaware that we are on a recon mission, the reluctant Dr. Watson to my Sherlock. I have always wanted to be an investigative reporter, or detective. (I invariably know this is my forte as I am the champion Clue winner in our circles.) Any chance I get will attempt to achieve this lifelong dream of mine!

Confused Husband, on the other hand, finds my snooping highly annoying. That is why I do not mention any of my covert intentions on this seemingly innocent stroll.

I allow our dog to sniff and linger in front of Luke Skywalker’s Doppelgänger home. It is not as pristine and well-kept as the others on the street. The blinds, as I expected, are all closed, obviously to keep prying eyes from witnessing his crimes.

The house to the right is for sale. I imagine the sellers are anxious about what potential buyers will say in regards to, the run-down crack house next door. A woman with one of those fashionable hybrid dog approaches. We engage in normal dog talk conversation. Confused Husband sighs dramatically, as he has no time for pleasantries. The Handmaid’s Tale is on tonight. He doesn’t want to miss it.

I then with, tact and grace, insert into the mindless dog convo as she goes on and on about Duke her, hybrid and all his wonders if she lives nearby and knows anything about the house for sale as I point to Confused Husband and say:” We are house hunting!” This tidbit has gone off like a bomb! Confused Husband looks at me like I have just announced at my age, I am pregnant. Thank goodness the lady is admiring Duke, who is sniffing our dog Jack’s butt with such gusto that it is a great distraction. She looks up and over and says it has been for sale for a while but, because of( she points to Luke Skywalker’s Doppelgänger crack house), she thinks that’s the problem. I have the fish on my line and must reel her in! I innocently ask what the deal is with the eyesore we are standing in front of.

She says he keeps to himself, a divorcee( she whispers like it is illegal) and, he is not very friendly. I casually say: “Has anyone tried talking to him?”

Both of her botoxed eyebrows go up even higher. She shakes her head and says:” Oh, he is so mean! It’s not worth it!”

Confused Husband, positioned behind her, begins giving me hand and arm signals like he is, trying to park a Jumbo jet on a runway. All he needs are those enormous earphones and a neon vest. He is as subtle as a brick through a window. He is messing up my recon! (now I know how Sherlock felt with the dour Dr. Watson riding on his coattails!).

I notice someone peeking out from behind Luke Skywalker’s Doppelgänger’s blinds. It is either him or one of his victims trying to morse code us with the blinds for help. I attempt to draw Confused Husband’s attention towards the blinds. Of course, he is too enraged at my shocking house-hunting declaration to even engage with me. I was never a Scout, and so any chance of rescuing potential victim of Luke Skywalker’s Doppelgänger, via morse code is pretty slim.

I decide that I must get back to Google and investigate more. I also need to NOT bring Confused Husband along next time. He really puts a damper on my missions!

Back home after explaining to Confused Husband to RELAX! There is no impending move. I was just gathering info and assessing the situation. He gives me his resting grumpy face and mumbles: “You are NOT an investigative journalist!” (Hey buddy, I hitched my star to your wagon knowing you had ambitions as LUDICROUS as they were of being a millionaire tycoon! I never once said: “You have a snowball’s chance in hell of that happening!” I may have thought it, but didn’t, say it out loud!) Like Mr. Rourke, I let you have your fantasy…

I enter the Google Rabbit Hole of balderdash and hours later have moved on from Luke Skywalker’s Doppelgänger, and now am heavily involved in the thread started by someone named Not Wolf Blitzer and his tirade against bicycles and scooters. I find out that the faux Wolf Blitzer has a kugel obsession and foot fetish. I put him on my list of suspects to investigate.

Utterly drained from all of my Googling. I am about to quit my investigating for the day when Mary, Mary, quite contrary41, pops up on Nextdoor to announce that she is holding a rally to ban all Stop signs! She vehemently asks why do we have to be ordered to Stop by city officials? Who are they to order, us to stop? Like a moth to a flame, investigative Alice jumps right back down that Rabbit hole…

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Seven: Ma’am searches for the Fountain of Youth…

Getting old is the WORST! I do not care what any of those celebrities with access to every kind of Fountain of Youth known to mankind say: “It’s grand!” They are lying. Let me inform those of you who are on the cusp of “MIDDLE-AGE” as we are labeled and the average bear with sucky health care that does not allow little tweaks and things like Cool Sculpting, Botox, A Non-surgical facial. Even tooth whitening is considered a luxury and is on the “You pay for it out of pocket” on our dental plan. It is all downhill from here.

Ponce De Leon would be turning over in his grave (perhaps he is) if he saw all of this Fountain of Youth crap floating around. I want damn Botox and even though I suffer from TREMENDOUS migraines thought I could kill two birds with one stone and get Botox for my face and my migraines. NOPE! Apparently, having four to five migraines a month isn’t enough to qualify me for even Botox. So here I exist a middle-aged person spending more at CVS than some mortgages on Excedrin Migraine and items that promise to “Stop the aging process”. I have created my own Fountain Of Youth program, which consists of whatever product I can buy with my Extracare coupons.

I recall the horror of being 36 and pregnant and referred to as: “A Geriatric pregnancy.” Young residents(some still with retainers and training wheels) were ushered into my room to: “Study me.” Like I was a rare National Geographic find held in captivity and they were witness to this rare sighting.

It was HUMILIATING! I was spoken about like I was in a coma. Announcements such as: “Here we have a Geriatric pregnancy!” My privacy curtain whisked away, revealing me laying there in a hospital-issued unflattering gown. Medical terms were spoken and I was stared at by these children in white coats playing dress-up. (I may have even taught a few years ago). Conversations about me are spoken around me, but not to me. My stomach was measured and prodded. I am pretty sure that resident Skippy or, perhaps it was Biff (another Doogie Howser wannabe.) almost choked on his bubble gum when the lead Obstetrician inadvertently flashed my nether regions whilst opening my gown. I can attest at this late stage in my pregnancy, I hadn’t been able to view my Va-jay-jay for quite some time. I assume it was a hot mess and not for public consumption.
It was a cluster of embarrassment and one I still have nightmares about to this day. I recollect having a frozen smile plastered on my face when I realized that Hong in the background was indeed one of my former students. I assumed by the time the day was over pictures of my nether regions would be plastered all over the school alumni board, with the caption(before we had hashtags) “Geriatric teacher’s Hoo-Haw!”

Now fast forward, and I am on the cusp of AARP, truly now a Geriatric. Father Time takes no prisoners. I want to believe the fifty-something GORGEOUS movie star in the commercial telling me to use this night cream and have her glow! I want to entrust my faith that wearing three pairs of Spanks at once will give me the figure of Sophia Loren.

Try as I may, I continuously fall short in my endeavors. It is EXHAUSTING chasing the Fountain of Youth. It is a fairy tale with no happy ending. No one is living happily ever after in this palace. I look over at Confused Husband heavy breathing from just reaching for the remote. This prince won’t be climbing up any tower to save me.

I am an over-weight, middle-aged princess and, I am locked away in the tower of time. But alas, my lot in life is to search for my own remedies instead of the big-ticket ones that are, out of my grasp. I seriously thought about writing to those two plastic surgeons on TV and asked if they did charity cases. My boobs after years of nursing my babies hang down to my knees like an old tribal woman on an episode of Hidden Tribes of the Rain Forest. If I don’t have on a bra they actually, hit my knees.

I know I am supposed to embrace this next chapter in my life, but frankly I want to run from it. I have moments of looking through old photos of myself wondering what happened to that girl? I saw the adverts for the book and film Gone Girl and thought it was about a middle-aged woman realizing the girl was gone. In her place was this lady she doesn’t recognize. I want to shout to the Millennials in their yoga pants with their flat stomachs and perky breasts:”Embrace this moment! It is fleeting! Father Time will find you too!”

Like a Sherpa, with my CVS bags I meander home with a glimmer of hope my Fountain of Youth is in one of these bags. I enter the house with an extremely short lived dream, that POOF, dies when Confused Husband bellows:”I hope you got your mustache waxing stuff because I am tired of you using my razor!”

Yes, the fairy tale is gone girl…

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Six: Ma’am needs a Ph.D to order a coffee…

Nowadays, I feel like you need a Ph.D. when ordering in today’s coffee shops. There is an intricate lingo that one must be well versed in when placing their coffee order. Let’s start with the milk choice: Whole, two percent, one percent, Low-fat, Organic, Lactose-Free, Soy, Rice, Buttermilk, Coconut, Almond, Oat, to name a few( I wasn’t even aware that one could milk an almond or an oat), Hemp, Goat, Buffalo, and finally the OG Cow. Then you need to know how many shots to ask for 1-8 seems to be the norm, depends on the drink and the consumer. Is it decaf or regular? What temperature do you want it? Regular, temperature, or scalding where if you spill it, you could have a Kramer-Esque lawsuit.

Foam or no foam? Whipped cream? Sweetener? What kind? Sweet’n Low, Sugar Twin, NutraSweet, Equal, Sweet One, Swiss Sweet, Sunetti, Splenda, Stevia, Monk fruit. Whatever happened to plain old sugar? Remember when you had the choice of regular sugar or brown and it was considered, so bourgeois if you opted for the brown sugar?

Cinnamon, pumpkin, vanilla bean, sprinkled on top? How much-whipped cream?

Don’t even get me started on matcha! What the hell is matcha anyway? Everyone raving about MATCHA! Peer- pressured into ordering it. Leaving out that slight, yet perhaps MOST important tidbit no one shared. Don’t be too far from the loo after consuming something with matcha in it. Of course, no one communicated this key fact with me as I zig-zagged home-like Mount Vesuvius ready to erupt.

Then there is the encyclopedia, of fruit! Dragon fruit, strawberry, blackberry, kiwi, pineapple, starfruit, mango, hibiscus, açaí. All whipped into fruity, beautifully colored drinks. Works of art and now used as samples for wall paint colors.

The ultimate question beckons an answer: “To ice or not to ice? “

A Mr. Know it all comes waltzing in, Bellowing out his RIDICULOUS, complex order for all to hear: “Venti, half-whole milk, one quarter 1%, one-quarter non-fat, extra hot, split quad shots (1 1/2 shots decaf, 2 1/2 shots regular), no foam latte, with whip, Two packets of Splenda, One sugar in the raw, a touch of vanilla syrup and Three short sprinkles of cinnamon. Got that?” I stare at the barista Skippy, who looks like he is twelve, to begin with. Eyes wide, gaze steadfast at this douche and, I can see that Skippy is attempting to process the War and Peace size coffee order that has been presented to him. “How do you even come up with such a ludicrous order?” I want to say to Señor Douche. I watch the sweat drip off of Skippy’s brow. He types quickly into the register, reminding me of Schroeder at his toy piano.

To my left is a pretentious woman in yoga pants reciting her order while stretching: “Iced, Ristretto, Nine shot, venti, with breve, Five pump vanilla, Seven pump caramel, four Equal, [and] poured, not shaken,” Who is she? James Bond? (I am trying to Google Ristretto on my phone.)

I only want a coffee! No twist, sprinkle, foam, dollop, touch, no nuts have to be milked. Is that so hard?! I feel like everyone has taken a Masterclass in coffee ordering but me. In the fall, when I order a Pumpkin spice latte, I feel like I am a rebel. 

But these whackadoodle, over-the-top orders take the cake! It is my turn, I am apprehensive and feel like I am about to take a major exam. I slowly relay my order to Skippy:” A tall coffee French roast, with a spoonful of cream.” I sense from my order that Skippy is disappointed in me. He asks, what kind of cream? How hot? Decaf or regular? Was I aware they only used Fairtrade coffee and, at the moment, they have an issue with France hence no French roast. I miss the news for one day and, now I am branded like Hester Prynne for ordering a French roast!

What the FUCK?!? “I don’t need my coffee beans to come from France Skippy! I just want it French roast style!” I hear myself screaming in my head. 

Señor Douche is talking into his Blue tooth informing, someone that an anti-Fairtrader is trying to get a cup of Joe. I want to karate chop him in the esophagus. Skippy continues to bark out questions to me. There are too many and too complicated. I am a bad test taker. I fold under pressure. I could never be a barista, let alone a long-winded beverage orderer.

Some kid next to me saunters up to the counter that they can barely see over. Full of bravado and orders: ” Venti Vanilla Bean Frappuccino, Three pumps Peppermint, One pump White Mocha, Two scoops Java Chips, heavy cream instead of whole milk.” like a seasoned professional.

 I am gobsmacked by this kid’s confidence! Meanwhile, Skippy continues his interrogation of my order. I am just waiting for him to waterboard me. I look over at Junior who is counting out change to pay for his drink. I point and say: “I’ll have what he is having.”

What’s the adage? If you can’t beat them, join them…

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Five: Thor and the rape whistle…

There is a kid in my neighborhood who rides his bike like a speed racer. He wears a bike helmet with horns like a Viking. I have dubbed him Thor the whistleblower. His parents thought it was a brilliant idea in lieu of a bell or bike horn to give the kid a rape whistle. He enjoys blowing this as he peddles like a mad man behind you. I have watched adults jump in fear and wet themselves when he speeds up behind them and blows on his whistle with all of his might. It is extremely frightening. Not to mention the fact that it is alerting those nearby that a potential assault may be occurring. To be the victim of the rape whistle when you are merely standing in the kid’s way is upsetting. People look at you like “Pervert, what were you doing to that boy?!”
Imagine being a man in a trench coat on a rainy day minding your own P’s & Q’s when that screeches up behind you? I have witnessed many victims of this. I decide to take matters into my own hands and confront Thor and his rape whistle one afternoon. I watch him tearing down the street leaving a cluster of startled and confused victim’s in his wake.
I peddle after him hearing Miss Gulch’s theme song from The Wizard of Oz in my head. I picture myself as her riding in fury and with purpose. Thor is blowing his rape whistle at squirrels, birds, dogs, leaving a carnage of deaf animals behind. I watch as a Fed-Ex delivery man jumps and drops his packages. I am sweaty, furious, and yes extremely out of breath. Finally, I catch up to Thor as he has stopped to drink some water.
Panting, I smile behind my mask and say: “Hi there! I like your bike! What’s your name?”
He eyes me suspiciously and sips his water. I continue: “So I notice that you are always blowing your whistle. It is so loud and high-pitched that it hurts our ears and startles us! Did you know it’s for emergencies only? Also, why don’t you get a bell to ring when you need pedestrians to move over when you are riding(I ring my bell to demonstrate.) Or you could just say: “Excuse me to your left!”
Thor continues to drink his water and eyes me up and down. I see this is going nowhere, so I change tactics. “Do you have a dog? Can you imagine how that hurts a dog’s ears? That range of your whistle is super high! Also, if you keep blowing it when it’s really an emergency then, no one will know that and come to help you if you need it.”
I wait hoping some of this has registered. He continues to watch me, saying nothing. This is awkward and super uncomfortable now. He puts the top back on his water bottle, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. He stares at me defiantly and in one fell swoop, blows on his rape whistle like he is a lone victim in the prison yard about to be gang banged.

People come running and I feel like I am about to become Tessie in The Lottery. Thor continuous his diatribe of whistle. I am SHOCKED! I hop back on my bike and peddle hastily like a maniac. I don’t stop until I am several blocks away! That little SHIT! I am fuming AND sweaty. Unsure of what to do.

I arrive home, huffing and puffing. I find Confused Husband on the stoop. He says:” I just heard that some kid was approached by an old pedophile woman! Thank goodness he had his rape whistle! Maybe I should get you one?”

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Four: Ma’am and “Quack, quack”…

When Confused Husband does a solo expedition to Costco, one never knows what nonsensical items are going to be accompanying him back home. He enters the house with a cat who ate the canary smile. Like he has just won the lottery or gotten a GREAT deal.
He rolls in enormous jars of jalapeño’s, mayonnaise, chickpeas; that almost squash the dog. It is like Fred Flintstone has returned from the grocery store. At least this time he didn’t come home with the seventy-two pound wheel of cheese that he wanted three other families to go in on.(Let’s just say there was a HUGE misunderstanding, and the other people involved did not think he was seriously going to purchase this.) It sat in our living room, and was used as a coffee table for over a year, until he finally sold it on eBay. It is whispered in our home as the Great Cheese Wheel catastrophe of 2010.

He tosses what at first I think is a cheese grater and says: “Here, for your hooves.” I find his Cheshire Cat grin highly annoying! There is a box of white unscented candles (I didn’t realize we were holding mass later?). With a dramatic flourish, he presents two GIANT pillows and says: “I needed new pillows and guess what?” ( Oh, his excitement is building) “They are GOOSE feathers!” He stands there waiting, anticipating what? Am I supposed to jump for joy because he bought himself new pillows? Strike up the band? Award him the Nobel peace prize? WHAT?!
I look at him. His smile leaves his face and, I can sense how disappointed he is by my lack of enthusiasm. He holds and hugs his new pillows like they are our children, talking to them in a baby voice. I am frankly uncomfortable with the intimacy he is showing these two feather infused bolsters. They are GIANT poofs like the Marshmallow man from Ghostbusters. With new pillows in hand, he runs upstairs to cover them.

I meanwhile have to find space for these ridiculous extra-large jars that won’t fit in the cupboard. I decide to put them around the island like extra stools.
Later that evening, I head upstairs. Our bedroom looks like a hen house! There are feathers EVERYWHERE! The rooster is perched; on his nest. I see the mammoth Flintstone-size pillows sticking out of the pillowcases. They are WAY too big for the average pillowcase. He also needs to get pillow covers for them as the feathers are escaping all over the place.
The ends of the feathers have poked me, and I feel like a human kebab. I am also sneezing like a maniac. It’s as though I am in some weird pillow fight scene.
Every time Confused Husband shifts or moves, an explosion of feathers trickle’s down and rains on me.

After an uncomfortable night of Plume-A- Palooza, I am in no mood to hear the wonders of his new pillows. He has feathers stuck all over him and even ones poking out of his pajama bottoms. He is like a pajama-clad rooster. It is morning, therefore, I am waiting for him to crow.
I tell him to get the vacuum and clean up his mess! An hour later he informs me that he could have used the leaf blower there were so many feathers. He decides to head back to Costco and return his what are now flat semi-filled, deflated goose feathered pillows.

Hours later, the prodigal shopper returns with two new pillows, informing me that Ping, who works in the Produce department, swears by the duck feather pillows! He is all excited! (All I can think of is A) I didn’t know there were duck feather pillows and, B) Why is he taking pillow advice from Ping in produce?) C) They are still FEATHERED pillows! Who cares what type of bird they originated from?
As usual, it is a stew of nonsense, and I am not climbing in the pot to join it.
I don’t have the bandwidth to ask any of the OBVIOUS questions out loud. Like what is the difference between duck and goose feathers? They will still molt all over the place. Could you not just get standard pillows?
I sit on the ENORMOUS jar of mayonnaise and pour myself a glass of boxed wine which is the size of a small automobile. The wine goblet courtesy of Costco, is big enough to have its own zip code. Confused Husband runs upstairs with his Donald Duck pillows like he has a hot date. I am pretty sure I hear quacking…

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Three: Ma’am and Bitcoin…

Confused Husband is obsessed with Bitcoin. Lately, he has had tales of Bitcoin. He tells them like he is Captain Ahab, retelling the tale of; how he caught the Great White Whale. Before I am just about to fall asleep, he regales me with another Bitcoin situation. 

First, I have no idea what Bitcoin is. Second, I don’t care. He goes into great detail and, it puts me to sleep. I doze off to him saying, ” It’s a digital wallet and, all you need to open your wallet and start spending is a password! (says the man who relies on our teen son, to input all of our passwords, and can’t even figure out how to log on to the computer! Yes, I can see this ending well..)

The next morning, he continues his Bitcoin diatribe. I want to stab him with my fork. My eyes are glazing over, I yawn. He becomes EXTREMELY insulted! He bellows: “Bitcoin is the future! you better educate yourself on how to use it!”

“Look,” I inform him. “You know I can only handle American currency and, even that’s a struggle! Do I need to remind you about the checkbook situation of 2000? Remember the Turkish Lira fiasco? Or the British Pound debacle?” He shutters when I say these things to him.

“Do you honestly think I can handle invisible money?” He clucks his tongue.” It is not invisible currency! It is virtual currency!” He bellows.

 I take a breath and state my point: “Okay, whatever, to me, it’s just as fake as Monopoly money! Plus, look how bad we are with passwords! We never remember them and have to rely on One Too Many to even log on to the computer! Are we going to have to depend on him every time we want to withdraw Bitcoins for, let us say a bottle of wine? And, are there Bit dollars? Because I don’t want a wad of change weighing my pockets down, making me look bigger than I am. Plus, I don’t want to fill up my cute small purse with coins and not have room for my lipstick! Also, I haven’t seen any cafe that says pay with Bitcoin! Does this mean we have to find a Bitcoin-friendly shop? That would be highly annoying and inconvenient! “

I stop to catch my breath. I am no Pollyanna and he should at this point many moons into our marriage know this. I continue like I am Perry Mason arguing my defense.

“Plus you, know how I hate counting out coins! Do they have 20 dollar Bitcoins or, is one Bitcoin equal to one dollar? That’s a lot of coins’ I have to carry around. It sounds exhausting! “

He glares at me and cusses in Turkish. (Yes, I WILL stop all of your dreams if they are this ridiculous!)

Then he goes on another Bitcoin tangent. I shush him and tell him I am “Trying to watch Meghan and Harry complain to Oprah about how hard their lives are, from their fifteen million dollar mansion!” I also ask out loud: “I wonder if they paid for their mansion with Bitcoin?”

He stops and looks at the TV and says: ” I bet Oprah knows about Bitcoin!”.

Hours later, we are taking a walk. I suggest we stop for a glass of wine and begin to search for a Bitcoin-friendly cafe…

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Two: Ma’am and her cloven hooves…

I chose pain for beauty. I wore cute shoes for a walk through the city. BIG mistake! My heels and toes look like they have gone through a meat grinder. My wounds have bled into my nice shoes, staining the camel color with my crimson blood giving me a taste of what they look like had I ordered them in crimson instead of the camel color.

Painfully I walk to the drugstore on my way home. I buy an armful of various sizes of bandaids and am gobsmacked when Skippy behind the counter gives me my car payment size total. I look at one of the boxes there are ten bandaids in the box. That’s one dollar a bandaid! LUDICROUS! ( Must Google how to sue a bandaid company).

I ridiculously penguin walk home, exhausted and battered. I feel like those people you see on the news, that have just been found, after walking lost through the Amazon, emerging with tattered feet.

I recruit One Too Many with ( what else?!) the promise of food to pull his injured mother’s cute albeit stupid shoes off of her feet. Like freeing a fat person from Spanx, once the shoes are off, my feet explode with their swollenness. At this point, it would be impossible to stuff my wounded trotters back into these stained torturers if I had to. The sight of my battered hooves has One Too Many with a look of disgust declaring: ” Your feet look like they were in a fight, and they lost!” He gags and looks away in horror. (Scratch the possibility of him as a future Podiatrist off of the list.)

I instruct him to get the first- aid cream and a towel. Also, the bucket over the washer NOT the one over the dryer that we use for throw-up. I am barking out orders like the lead surgeon in an operating room. Commanding him to fill the bucket with warm water and my soothing lavender bath wash. Minutes later. he schleps it back like a kid trekking water from a well. It slushes back and forth, spilling over onto my crimson-stained shoes which, have to be washed anyway.

I attempt to put one of my swollen hooves into the bucket but, it can’t fit horizontally. Therefore, I must stand up and dip in vertically while balancing on my other injured foot. It is a stew of nonsense, and I am stepping right into it.

During my dipping procedure, I realize that I am indeed wading in the throw-up bucket, as One Too Many doesn’t know the difference between the washer and the dryer! I also believe that that was his first-ever venture into the laundry room.

But, I am too injured to take on the battle of the throw-up bucket debacle at this juncture. Will put it on the back burner to address later.

I instruct One Too Many to spread the towel. I remove my hoof from the bucket of ick. I place the other injured party in the bucket and wait.

Confused Husband waltzes in demanding to know what I just spent at the drugstore for forty dollars as he JUST received a possible fraud alert on his phone. I point to my various assortment of bandaids. He shakes his head and wants to know WHY? The mini-operating pop-up and blood doesn’t seem to assist him with his answer. I step out of the vomit bucket and plop back down in agony. I ignore Confused Husband and direct One Too Many to begin opening and assembling the bandaids. The largest one is like the size of a tent once it’s opened. I order One Too Many to slap those on my heels. Overhead a chopper is flying, and I feel like I am -living in a Triage scene from Mash.

The smaller bandaids are opened and wrapped around each individual toe. They look like swollen Vienna sausages just popped out of the can. My feet, legs, and back are tingling in pain. I hear Confused Husband in the background bellowing: ” Why is his bucket that he uses to mix his special holiday brew now housing my feet?!” I throw-up in my mouth realizing, that all of this time, he has been using the throw-up bucket to create his holiday punch in and have no words other than an internal, natural instinct to flee but, because of the state of my feet, cannot. I am trapped in this hell.

One Too Many has now finished wrapping my feet in what looks like hundreds of bandaids. They look like two enormous flesh-colored Q- tips. Standing up, I am also now an inch or two taller, thanks to the bandaids.

I duckwalk into the kitchen to suck down a much-needed glass of wine.

Hours later, throughout the house, I am finding discarded bandaids that have fallen off my feet. The dog has one stuck on his nose. It is GIANT and covers his nose like a mask.

Confused Husband is loitering on the couch. On the coffee table in front of him sits a mug and a plate with half a sandwich containing one of my giant bandaids stuck on it. I ask him, “Why?” he replies: ” I thought it was a piece of bologna that had fallen out of my sandwich, but then realized it wasn’t and now can never eat bologna or perhaps a sandwich ever again thanks, to you!” Says the man who makes punch in the throw-up bucket..