Chapter One Hundred Forty- Seven: Ma’am and the Elf…

I try to be cognizant of others around me. Especially around this time of year when you see so many doing without. Here in the city, the amount of homeless people has definitely grown. I also have learned that perhaps the person is suffering from some sort of substance abuse so, instead of giving them money, I may purchase them a meal or hot beverage. I know it’s not enough, but it is what I can afford to do.
Having said this, I also seem to be the one in the crowd that has “SUCKER” written on their forehead.

I find myself out of bath wash and unwillingly do not wish to smell like a woodland lumberjack by using Confused Husbands bath wash. I run up to CVS to grab some.
Standing in front of the glass-locked case of various choices of bath wash makes me feel like I am in the finest museum or jewelry store admiring a rare gem.

I have to locate an employee to come and unlock the case for me. I stand there for a while waiting, for this to happen.

Next to me, a guy dressed as a Christmas Elf saunters up and stands there peering into the glass as well. I explain that I am waiting for the employee to unlock the case. He nods and continues to peruse the items in the case. Not one for awkward silences, I ramble on about how ludicrous it is that things have to be locked up because of shoplifters. I share my waiting 45 minutes for a deodorant case to be unlocked one-time story and feel like I am losing my audience in a stand-up audition. I am just about to ask him how things are going up at the North Pole during this hectic time of the year, when the employee arrives with a HUGE amount of keys, reminding me of Schneider from One Day at A Time. We then stand there and watch as every key is tried. (I consider going home and using the woodland lumberjack bath wash because this is becoming RIDICULOUS! ) Of course, the last key on the massive ring is the one to open the cabinet. Then the employee asks which one I want, and they will bring it up to the counter and meet me there (I feel like I am involved in some nefarious drug deal.)

The Elf looks over at me and asks:” If I could buy him a sandwich?” I want to say: “You mean Santa doesn’t offer a meal plan?” but decide against it. I look him up and down, from his pointy curled-up shoes to his elf hat. I realize that his outfit has no pockets and, perhaps rushing to work this morning, he may have forgotten his wallet. I nod okay and say: “I didn’t know CVS has sandwiches and, he replies: “Oh, they have food.” He scurries away, and I head over to the long line at the register.

I look around for the Elf, but he has vanished.
The line is ten people deep, and one cashier(the same employee who had to unlock the case for me. ) I stand there debating how much do I want this bath wash? Then I feel bad because the employee went through all of that trouble of finding the right key, and so I remain in line. I am fairly sure that years have passed since I first came into the store. I wonder if my family notices my absence? Have they moved on without me? Did they distribute flyers around the neighborhood with(what I hope)is a decent photo of me? Has Confused Husband remarried and, have my children forgotten me? Has the world outside of this store changed so drastically that we now have flying cars?

I think I dozed off because the lady behind me has tapped me on the shoulder to let me know that it’s, my turn. I leap with joy to the register and wait while the employee rings up my coveted bath wash. I also debate asking them to grab me another because I don’t want to go through this stew of nonsense again. The employee informs me that my total is $47.89. “For bath wash?!” I bellow. She points to a charcuterie platter(yes, you read that right) a super pack of Advil, cough syrup, a couple of cans of red bull, and a box of condoms.
Shaking my head, I inform her that those are not mine. I only have the bath wash. She points out the front store window and, there, smiling and waving, is the damn Elf! She says:” Those are your husband’s items.” WTF?!!!!

I LOUDLY announce that: “The Elf is not my husband and I have never met him before I came into the store. I then attempt to explain to the line, which is turning on me like a scene from Les Mis, that I only offered to buy the Elf a damn sandwich! There was never any discussion, nor offer of, an entire accouterment, charcuterie platter, and pharmacy items!

That this entire scenario is a stew of nonsense!

Behind me, a man says:” Don’t be ashamed that you are married to an elf!” He gets more laughs from the other bodies in the line.

I turn around and boldly promulgate again that: “I am NOT married to the Elf!” The same numbskull who mocked me for being married to the Elf loudly declares: “The Elf’s wife won’t let him buy condoms!” The line starts to chant #ELFSEX this is LUDICROUS! Meanwhile, the moronic Elf is outside of the shop, has his face pressed up against the glass looking at me with a sheepish grin. I want to punch his stupid face. I glare at him, gesturing for him to come in.
He pops his head through the door, and I inform him that he: “Only gets a sandwich!” He gives me a look of disappointment and bows his head. He is a consummate actor! The line audience takes his side and, I overhear conversations like: ” Poor Elf! his wife is soooo controlling!” ” She won’t even feed him or give him sex!” I do not have the bandwidth to announce yet again that:” I AM NOT MARRIED TO THE ELF!”

I also point out to the Elf, that a charcuterie platter is NOT a sandwich! He shrugs his shoulders and stands there with his pointy shoes and ridiculous hat. All eyes are on me. Even the nice employee looks like he is siding with the Elf. I just want to get out of here. I like a schmuck go ahead and pay for everything. I thrust the bag at the Elf, minus my bath wash. The idiot line comedienne announces: “The Elf is going to get some!” There are cheers throughout the line. I turn around and give him a look.

By the time I get outside, the Elf has disappeared with his bag of goodies. I make my way home, exhausted, defeated, and have a new disdain for elves. Inside my home, no one has noticed I was gone for a decade. I head upstairs with my bath wash which has become the bane of my existence.

There is a knock on the bathroom door. Apparently, Confused Husband found my CVS receipt. He calls through the door:

“Where is the charcuterie platter? I am starving! I didn’t know CVS sold those!”…

Chapter One Hundred Forty-Six: Ma’am in the Amazon jungle…

In the middle of the night, I get an alert on my phone. Next to me, Confused Husband stirs and asks:” Is that a tornado siren?” I tell him:” Go back to sleep Dorothy! Where do you think we live? Friggin Kansas?!” 

The wailing siren is not an Amber, weather, or police signal. But an alert from Amazon that they obviously, felt was imperative that I receive. A soooo important item they perceived I needed to have, that they had a call to arms to wake me to do so. 

Like a deranged Alice, I dive headfirst into the Amazon rabbit hole and click on the link. At first, to my sleepy eyes, it looks like a tent that could house a family of four. For a brief moment, I wonder if my Amazon Aunt Lydia(AKA my Amazon handler) has decided I needed to try camping. As I have never searched or shopped anything remotely related to camping.

I then adjust my eyes to focus in on ENORMOUS granny underwear. They are massive and could have their own zip- code! At first, I am impressed and wonder how Amazon knew I became a grandmother?!! My awe lasts for about a second as my anger builds! How dare they think I NEED or would wear these Hindenburg size undies?! I am furious at all the MILLIONS of items my Amazon Aunt Lydia could have chosen this is what she picked for me! 

I search for a contact in customer service and begin my scolding email.

 Dear Amazon Aunt Lydia,

Perhaps you had too much Brandy after dinner. Shame on you for suggesting these enormous, unflattering, grandma underwear! Just because I recently became a grandmother doesn’t mean I need suggestions from you like gigantic underwear, denture stuff( I have my own choppers thank you VERY MUCH!). And whatever other old lady items you feel I need at this juncture in my life! I became a new grandmother overnight! I didn’t turn into Betty White!

My disappointment in you is HUMONGOUS (like the underwear you suggested). Our simpatico relationship was one of the few in my life I could count on. What a letdown of enormous proportion ( like the undies). We always had a nice, uncomplicated relationship. I clicked, searched, and purchased! You cheered me on with your words of encouragement and polite comments like; Thank you for your purchase! It’s on its way!

You always counted on me for a review! I considered myself the Siskel and Ebert of Amazon reviews! Now, I perceived our relationship has drastically changed. I used to feel when I was deep in the Amazon jungle, you were my machete. Helping me hack through all of the weeds to find the path. I realize this was a rouse. You Amazon Aunt Lydia have insulted me with your suggestion tonight ( mind you that woke me up just as George Clooney was informing me he left Amal for me!)

If Hulu or Netflix had a shopping empire, TRUST me, I would be heading over to them as a customer. When I finish this email, I will be contacting them with my suggestions that they too start a shopping empire.

Tsk, tsk. 

Chapter One Hundred Forty-Five: Ma’am’s quest…

There are many quests in one’s life. The quest for love, a good job, shelter, etc … are all common and universal. I think another important quest that is ubiquitous among many women is the quest for the perfect bra. (Unless you are a tribal woman and that is your culture, I am not but look like one with my overly nursed boobs.)

Searching for the perfect bra at times, I have felt like Don Quixote with Pancho Villa by my side AKA Confused Husband. On our horse and donkey rummaging the earth for the windmills in our case; lift, tuck, pull-push, hide the side boob, push the back fat forward, comfortable, bras. We have been spotted in many stores in the lingerie department. Not looking for something exciting for the boudoir,  but a necessity of life- a comfortable, well-fitting bra. Searching like Lewis and Clark on an expedition.

Finding this is like seeing a unicorn or winning the lottery. It is a tireless exhausting hunt.

I scour Amazon searching for the perfect bra. I read endless reviews and have made finding the perfect bra my life’s quest. It is like searching for the Holy Grail. In the Amazon comment section, I begin to correspond with someone named Artie. He states with such fervor that his double D wife Dixie is “OBSESSED” with these bras and the comfort they provide! I ask him if the side boob and the back fat are rehomed towards the front of the bra? Artie responds that Dixie apparently has substantial side-boob and a healthy amount of back fat which has been re-proportioned to the front- this is MUSIC to my ears!

Artie states that Dixie:(And I quote:) “Has never looked so proportioned in her life.” He then expresses how:” Those suckers are wrapped up and an overall effect is a well-balanced form.” I share that: ” although I may not be as well endowed as Double-D- Dixie, I need assistance with the nipping and tucking and distribution of wobbly bits.”

Artie retorts that my bra issues sound a lot like his Great Aunt Esther. I don’t know how I feel about being compared to Artie’s elderly, great Aunt, but before I can respond, someone named Helen from the Peanut Gallery online chimes in and blasts Artie for being a pervert on a woman’s bra site.

Then another Peanut Gallery member named Graham pipes up to add that they were thinking the same thing!, and why can’t Double-D- Dixie speak for herself? For a moment I almost ask Artie if Double-D-Dixie is mute? But then realize that she could still type. Artie goes on a typing RAMPAGE! He tells Helen and Graham that he is his wife’s publicist. A flash of horror hits me all at once! Imagine Confused Husband as my publicist?! Oh, the terror of that thought! Then I wonder if Double-D-Dixie is famous and Artie is really her manager incognito! A picture of Dolly Parton enters my mind and I begin to Google:’What kind of bras does Dolly Parton wear?”

The insults and name-calling fly back and forth. I type to Artie that I appreciate his help with my bra endeavor. He types back with a smiley face to let him know how it works out for me and if possible to send a picture. WTF???

Okay, maybe Helen and Graham weren’t so far off the mark! Anyway, whether or not Pervert Artie and Double-D-Dixie are real people or not, I am SOLD on this bra! I order one and wait with anticipation…

Chapter One Hundred Forty-Four:Ma’am and the Octopus…

Confused Husband and I try to watch a cornucopia of shows on Netflix, Prime, and Hulu. We enjoy expanding our horizons (well, maybe I should speak for myself.) There are a lot of hits and misses. Recently Confused Husband came home all atwitter about some show called My Octopus Teacher on Netflix. He said the boys(his posse) were saying how great it is. I am EXTREMELY skeptical as the Siskel and Eberts’ he is referring to are the same ones who carry on like maniacs if their sports team loses and thinks that nuts in a bowl with some crackers are a gourmet spread.
He laments on and on about how just from the conversation he heard about this show and the sea and an Octopus drew him in. (I was not aware I was married to Jacques Cousteau.) Truthfully, I wanted to pitch one of my Scandinavian detective shows.

I feel like I am locked in one of those cheap hotel conference rooms and, he is trying to sell me a timeshare. I give in because I do not have the energy to continue on this ridiculous carousel of nonsense.
The documentary begins. I sense Confused Husband’s disappointment that it isn’t a blockbuster movie. I assume he expected something like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or a Jaws-type movie only with an Octopus as the mass murderer of swimmers and Fishermen. Within minutes he is snoring his mouth, wide open. I, on the other hand, am enthralled by this documentary. I find it riveting! I learned sooooo much and am just gobsmacked, at how intelligent an Octopus is! Who knew they had such emotion and smarts!
By the end of the documentary, I want an Octopus as a pet! I look over at our old lump of a dog and imagine an Octopus named Oliver doing tricks in his tank and NEVER having to walk or smell its stinky toots!
Confused Husband awakes from his slumber and suggests we head around the corner to a Bistro for dinner. Anytime I do not have to cook and can be waited on, I am there!
On the walk to dinner, I tell Confused Husband all about the Octopus and what he missed during his siesta. I even throw in that perhaps we can get a pet Octopus and name him Oliver? He just continuously nods his head. I am hoping that he is actually listening to me instead of thinking about what he is going to order for dinner.
At the restaurant, we are barely seated when Confused Husband bellows out to the waiter: “Could you bring me a LARGE plate of the Calamari?” I am SHOCKED! I give him the ” look”. Sheepishly he says:” Calamari is squid, not Octopus!” I counter that:” it’s still in the same family! What if you are eating one of Oliver’s cousins?”
He retorts: “Who the hell is Oliver?”…

Chapter One Hundred Forty-Three: The arrival of Ma’am…

After a summer abroad, I have returned. Where do I begin? Was I sunbathing in Niece? Gambling in Monte Carlo? Flamingo dancing in Spain? Touring ruins in Greece?…. No to all of the above. I was in the UK awaiting the birth of my first grandchild. I was also the cook, cleaner, laundry Czar, dog walker, wall painter, ANYTHING to assist my heavily pregnant daughter and son-in-law.
After all, I paid a small FORTUNE in rapid Covid tests and was biding, away my time in quarantine. I had to keep busy. If I could have whittled a small boat, I would have. I even thought about taking up candle-making. Those of you who personally know me may compare my luck to Charlie Brown. A massive historical heatwave was fast approaching Europe and, guess what? There are NO air conditioners! I am already sweaty due to menopause and sleep with the central air cranked AND fans!
My son-in-law and daughter scurried, to set up fans for me. I also noticed that there was no ice and luke warm water. These factors didn’t help. I attempted to be non -chalant about the pending hot wave of doom. I was there for one of the greatest moments of my life NOTHING was going to dampen my spirits… Wrong, my sweat dripping down my face, off of my skin cultivating puddles where ever I stood did that for me.
Between my sweat and face mask, my face ran like a bad Salvador Dali painting. I couldn’t let my new granddaughter’s vision of me be this horrifying! Imagine her twenty years into the future on some famous Oprah-esque show, lamenting about her late grandmother’s sweaty and hairy face! Explaining to the interviewer, that she was traumatized from birth at this horrendous sight, and it had forever meshed in her psyche. No! I could not be the cause of this!
I bought every contraption on QVC there is. I bought the eyebrow dye so I wouldn’t look like a scary faceless thing. (I have the whitest of eyebrows.) I ordered the mustache waxer, so I would not only not look like a bad Salvador Dali painting, but not like the artist himself! I even invested in a nostril hair trimmer(just in case!) I thought about the view an infant has, whilst being held, and it’s right up into your nostrils! (Yes, I put A LOT of thought into this!). I was going to be hairless, draw in my eyebrows Gramsy, with the GREAT face that she remembered lovingly! not the hairy scary clown!
The excitement built as I waited for the GREATEST arrival EVER!
At night, I slothed, scrubbed, lotioned, you name it! I was not only going to be hairless, but soft and smell good! I prepared myself like I was headed, to the Oscars! I bought new outfits so, I was a chic grandma too! I practiced my lullaby’s in the shower and worked on my story telling voice! I felt like I was enrolled in Grandma Boot camp!

Free from quarantine like a bird released from its cage, I told everyone I met about the upcoming arrival! I explained to the patient shopkeepers my reason for being in the UK. I shared my Grandma grooming tips which I assured them that underneath this mask I was hairless and had glowing skin. Perhaps because the Brits are so polite they just nodded and made the appropriate sounds who knows? I didn’t care! Nothing was going to ruin this moment for me! I frequently called Confused Husband to give him an update and to share my song of choice for our soon to be bundle of joy. He asked if:”I had been drinking?” He also advised me to keep my song repertoire for the shower. As usual he tried to rain on my parade!

The momentous occasion FINALLY arrived! I couldn’t contain my utter joy! I wanted to break out in song, but decided to save my voice for when my granddaughter could actually be here for her dedicated song! Unfortunately because of Covid rules, I was unable to be at the hospital for the arrival. No worries! I dressed in my chicest ensemble and primped. I admired this glamorous Gramsy in the mirror! All of those late night panicked QVC purchases paid off! (I would deal with Confused Husband and his outrage over my spending later! he was across the pond so at least there was some distance!). I waited for the arrival and prepared like the Queen herself was on her way.

At last they arrived home! All of my preparation was tossed out the window by me. As soon as I laid eyes on her I sobbed uncontrollably and did the UBER ugly cry. My well applied makeup running down my face. The only remaining thing were my eyebrows and my RIDICULOUSLY happy smile! Holding this SCRUMPTIOUS, PERFECT, bundle of YUMMINESS I began to tell her my tale. Was it the normal fairy-tale of Cinderella?, Sleeping Beauty?, Snow White?… NOPE! It was the tale of my travels to get here to see her, and so it began…

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. Our clandestine meeting spot is 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 Forty-Two: Once Upon a time… Ma’am’s travel nightmare begins…

Here is your first fairytale my sweet, precious granddaughter Arabella. It is different from most fairytales. It is more like an episode of The Office or Seinfeld which Gramsy will introduce you to in the future.
Once Upon a time, Gramsy went on a trip. Traveling across the pond for the most important day EVER! Your birth! Gramsy was at the airport beginning her adventure. Gramsy is like Charlie Brown(who by the way, you will learn about and grow to love as time goes by). Back to our story, at the airport, Gramsy’s excitement builds! She ignores her lack of breathing and sweaty face in the mask. (Silently cursing the exorbitant amount she had spent on this promising, NO FACE SWEAT lotion! she purchased from QVC, will introduce you to this cult when you are older!) -Gramsy will look to *sue(it’s not just a name) on her return, Tiffany the overly excited sales-girl, who took Gramsy’s order and MONEY over the phone, swore that she wore it in a Triathlon and didn’t break out in a face sweat. Gramsy imagines that perfect Tiffany NEVER sweats a day in her life anyway.
Tjigs at the airline check-in desk informs Gramsy that amongst her RIDICULOUS cluster of papers. She is missing the final page of her Passenger Locator form. WTF?!!!! (You will learn this acronym when you are a teenager). Gramsy sifts through her HUGE amount of papers (equivalent to the size of War & Peace which, you will probably have to read at some point in your life.) Gramsy hears the guy behind her in line sigh dramatically. (He BETTER NOT be Gramsy’s seat companion!) Beads of sweat are dripping onto her papers. Also, you will come to realize that Gramsy is technically challenged and has a hard time(especially under pressure to work her phone). It took a while but, Tjigs found the needed document in an email on her phone(you will also learn about emails-not to be confused with REGULAR good old-fashioned mail that you can physically hold and touch.)
FINALLY, Gramsy boards the plane! Of course, Mr. Dramatic Sigh is her seat companion! But Gramsy is next to the aisle, so Mr. Dramatic Sigh has to climb over her to get out of the row. He must have bladder issues, and like you, should have diapers on. Gramsy has several glasses of wine and finds out that the reason her ticket was soooo cheap is that they don’t feed you on the flight. You have to buy your food. The selection offered is like a glorified vending machine. Of course, Gramsy’s credit card doesn’t work because Confused Husband AKA YOUR GRANDFATHER forgot to inform the credit card company that Gramsy was headed, overseas. Gramsy has to use her other card, thankfully, it works because SHE informed them of her travels.
There is NOTHING on the glorified vending cart they are pushing up and down the aisle that appeals to Gramsy. She finally settles on a bag of pistachios. Her obnoxious seat companion begins to huff and puff like the Big Bad Wolf and dramatically climbs over her and heads of course! to the loo. Good ridence!
Also, Gramsy has no movie screen but the well-seasoned traveler that she is, she brought a book. Whilst enjoying her book, wine, and pistachios, a message comes over the loudspeaker:
“Dömur mínar og herrar, þetta er fyrir farþegann sem pantaði pistasíuhneturnar. Vinsamlegast slepptu því að borða þær þar sem við höfum nýlega fengið tilkynningu um að einn farþega þinn sé með ofnæmi fyrir hnetum. Vinsamlegast farðu með pistasíupakka þinn til næsta flugfreyju til förgunar og farðu síðan í vatnskápinn til að þvo hendurnar vandlega. Við þökkum aðstoð þína í þessum alvarlegu læknisfræðilegu aðstæðum.” Translation:” Ladies and Gentlemen, this is for the passenger who ordered the pistachios. Please refrain from eating them as we have just been notified that one of your fellow passengers is highly allergic to nuts. Please take your pistachio packet to the nearest flight attendant for disposal and then proceed to the water closet to wash your hands thoroughly. We appreciate your assistance in this serious medical situation.”
All eyes are on Gramsy, as she does what feels like:’The walk of shame”.(This is NOT something you EVER need to learn about!) It’s as though she is carrying a bomb down the aisle. There are whispers, pointing, and people turning away. (It is a STEW OF NONSENSE! )Gramsy hands over the “apparently” toxic pistachios and demands her money back! After all, she paid ten Euros(whatever that is in dollars) for a tiny bag and only got to eat a few handfuls. The perfectly coiffed flight attendant who probably doesn’t sweat one drop! according to her name tag, Helga informs Gramsy that this is not possible. They also spray Gramsy with some kind of disinfectant so she won’t carry pistachio dust through the air. The disinfectant smells like the weed killer one uses in the garden. As she returns to her seat, Gramsy feels like Pig Pen(one of the Peanut gang from Charlie Brown, as a plume of DISGUSTING smoke, follows her.)
Mr. Dramatic Sigh is INDEED the passenger with the nut allergy and has returned to his seat looking like a goldfish out of water with puffy cheeks and bulging eyes. His neck is also extremely red and swollen. He gives Gramsy the NASTIEST look and mutters. Honestly, Gramsy could care less at this point and is FAMISHED! Routing around in her tote bag, she finds a box of Altoids and begins to eat them like they are a cluster of grapes. She may be starving, but at least she will have fresh breath.
Also, because Gramsy’s ticket was so cheap (THANKS Grandpa!) meant her flight wasn’t direct. Landing in Reykjavík which, is the capital of Iceland. Inside the airport, the passengers entering from other places, are treated like criminals. Forced into this glass cube to stand and wait for the connecting flight to London. There are no seats, and it is standing room only. Gramsy feels like an animal at the zoo. It is hot in the cube, and Gramsy desperately needs the loo. After an hour and a half. (yes, you read that right.) Gramsy and her fellow passengers are ushered to a bus. The bus literally drives around the airport and winds up back by the cube. The plane that had been sitting near the cube is the one they are instructed to walk towards. Once on the plane, and seated an announcement, is made: “Afsakið óþægindin dömur mínar og herrar. Við þurftum að sótthreinsa flugvélina úr pistasíu rykinu. Vélin er skýr núna og við höldum áfram til London.”(Sorry for the inconvenience ladies, and gentlemen. We had to disinfect the plane from the pistachio dust. The plane is clear, for taking off now, and we will continue on to London.)
Hundreds of eyes are upon Gramsy. She is exhausted, smelly, hot, and famished. She doesn’t care! Soon she will be in the UK meeting the most precious angel.

Several hours later, Gramsy arrives in London. Of course, this has to be a struggle as well. They have lost Gramsy’s luggage! All of the special treats she has brought you are in there! Gramsy is on the edge! “Put a fork in her! she’s done!” This as, they say, is “The straw which broke the Gramsy’s back.” Gramsy begins to sob uncontrollably.

At customs, they question her like she is a terrorist about the: “Pistachio incident.” Gramsy is losing patience with these numbskulls(trust in this, you will meet plenty in your life!).
Several hours later, she is released, from the Pistachio interrogation. From there, she heads to file, a missing bag report with Baggage Claim. Filling out a swarm of papers and unable to understand what the gentleman is saying to her between his accent and his mask. Gramsy just nods yes to everything. She makes a list in her mind of what she refers to as her “Revenge” list. Your Grandpa AKA Confused Husband is first, followed by Dramatic Sigh seat companion. Helga is third. This guy who is blathering on about the slim chance they find Gramsy’s bag is in a tie with Helga. He asks for a description of my RIDICULOUS Keyser Söze bag. I describe how this bag CANNOT be missed with it’s tacky surf board art scene on the outside. I can tell from his eyes he has NO idea what I am talking about. I attempt to explain that this bag CANNOT be unseen. It won’t “Just blend.” After this awkward, useless dance of a conversation, Gramsy is released from the airport and finds your father waiting. Let the stew of nonsense begin!

To be continued

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?”…