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…