Three Women: One Day

7 A.M., The Young Housewife:  Waving good-bye as the school bus pulls away and her husband drives off, she turns to dash through the kitchen and notices a forgotten lunch bag still on the counter. “Always something,” she sighs. That’ll mean a quick trip to school before noon.  She slathers peanut butter on a cold piece of toast, slurps up all the milk left in the cereal bowls and heads for the laundry, nearly tripping over the dog.  Poor guy, he was only trying to tell her he hadn’t been fed yet.  With a bag of smelly dog food in one hand and a bundle of stinky PJs in the other, she pauses a moment to wonder if she should have taken her mother’s advice and gone to business school.

7 A.M., The Mid-Life Matron:  Waking from a restful night’s sleep, she plans her day as she heads for the shower.  Her morning ritual lasts about an hour and twenty minutes if she takes time for the eyelash curler.  Patting the last hennaed hair in place, she prepares a nutritious breakfast of lo-cal, high protein 22 grain cereal with fresh fruit and a Bloody Mary.

7 A.M., The Great-Grandmother:  Having fallen asleep only three short hours ago, she turns over in bed, glares at the clock and pulls the covers over her head to drown out the birds chattering  outside her window, thinking  “If only I could get back to sleep.”  Meanwhile, the cat sits patiently on her chest, waiting to be fed.

10 A.M., The Young Housewife:  Still making beds and vacuuming, she realizes she forgot to turn on the washer.

10 A.M., The Mid-Life Matron:  Fussily fashioning place cards for an upcoming bridge tournament, she finishes off another Bloody Mary and wonders if there is time to run out and place an order for an assortment of frosted gourmet brownies to serve the bridge players tomorrow evening.

10 A.M., The Great-Grandmother:  Several brief naps later she gives up on sleep, climbs creakily out of bed and heads for the kitchen.  Bleary-eyed, she scoops cat food into the coffee maker, reaches out to turn it on and turns on the TV instead.  Getting caught up in a dramatic reality show, she sits down to watch.  Frustrated by the “To Be Continued” ending, she shuts it off and looks around for her coffee, wondering why she’s still hungry.  And why is the cat so greedy when she just got fed?  They did both just eat, didn’t they? She finally gives the cat a little more food just to quiet her down.

12 Noon,  The Young Housewife:  Dropping the third-grader’s lunch off at school, she learns that she is expected to provide 4 dozen brownies for tomorrow’s Bake Sale.  The notice has been at the bottom of a grubby backpack for days.  Aware that there is no chocolate in the house for the brownies, she stops at the market long enough to run in and grab a package.  45 minutes later she comes out with 5 bags of groceries and a copy of “How A Busy Homemaker Gets Back Into The Work Force” that she picked up at check-out.

12 Noon,  The Mid-Life Matron:  Looking forward to a working luncheon with the ladies from her “Voters Anonymous Group United”  or “VAGUE,” she changes into her favorite pant suit, checks her makeup, pats her hair, grabs a briefcase and dashes off.  Cheek kisses all around, followed by a  glass or two of wine and she opens the meeting only to discover she brought her make-up case instead of the briefcase. By now the ladies have all had a second wine and are giggly enough not to care about voters, anonymous or otherwise.   The business meeting turns into a discussion about absent members’ make-up; how much each wears, who overdoes it and who needs it most.

12 Noon,  The Great-Grandmother: Still puzzling over the unsatisfying breakfast, she brews a cup of coffee, horrified to find it smells and tastes like cat food, and switches to herbal tea.  She  carefully spreads a layer of peanut butter over a lettuce leaf, adds some baby carrots to a paper plate and, scooping the cat out of her recliner, sits down to lunch.  She turns on her TV and gets about 10 minutes into her favorite soap opera before falling into a deep sleep.

3 P.M., The Young Housewife:  Stopping at home just long enough to unload the groceries and stuff the wet laundry into the dryer, she hurries back to school to drop the soccer player off at practice, the pianist off for a lesson and the kindergartener home for a play date.  By then, the laundry needs folding, and the dog needs walking, then the soccer player and the piano player both need to be picked up.  There’s barely time to wonder what to fix for dinner.  If she worked in an interesting office, she’d at least get a break about now.

3 P.M., The Mid-Life Matron:  The V.A.G.U.E. members lunch on a trendy Mac ‘n Cheese with Bacon, broiled asparagus tips and more wine.  This is followed by Irish Coffee for dessert.  Another successful luncheon meeting past, another round of cheek kisses and home they go, much merrier than when they arrived.

3 P.M., The Great-Grandmother:  Her eyes pop open after another nap, and she still feels hungry.  She tears into a box of brownies that she  happened to have in the pantry, eats several and dozes off again.

6 P.M., The Young Housewife: “Since Daddy is working late, we can call out for a pizza” she announces cheerfully.  “Aw Mom, not again. We had pizza last month.”  These have to be the only kids in the universe who hate pizza.  Sighing, she reaches for a saucepan, a box of mac ‘n cheese, some bacon and a bunch of asparagus.

6 P.M., The Mid-Life Matron:  After the late lunch, dinner is casual.  Having placed a large order of frosted brownies for the bridge tournament, she’d been unable to resist picking up an extra dozen for herself.  Before she knows it, most of these are gone.  As she nibbles, she sips on a tall Gin and Tonic and makes phone calls for the  “Friends Of The Orphaned Sea Urchins,” reminding members of the coming fundraiser.

6 P.M.,  The Great-Grandmother: Waking up from her most recent nap, she realizes it’s almost dinner time.  She surveys an array of meals in her freezer, decides on a mac ‘n cheese with bacon and a side of broiled asparagus tips.  After eating, she tidies up, then heads for the bedroom to slip into something comfy. Much to her amazement she’d spent the entire day in her robe and slippers!  Well, too late to bother changing now.

10 P.M.,  The Young Housewife:  Pulling one last pan of brownies out of the oven, she decides 3d graders won’t care if they’re frosted or not, throws all the pans in the sink and trudges wearily off to bed.  Five minutes later the kindergartener needs a drink of water.  Ten minutes later the dog needs to go out again.  “Would working mothers have all these distractions?” she mutters to herself.  Well, of course they would, she knows that. Realizing she already has the most important job she could ever want, she falls into bed and drops off to sleep.

10 P.M., The Mid-Life Matron: She spends 30 minutes in her bathroom applying various facial products to her complexion, exploring anything that even faintly resembles a blemish.  Finally satisfied, she makes a strong nightcap, picks up the latest romance novel, and heads for bed and another restful night.

10 P.M.,  The Great-Grandmother:  Asleep in her recliner with the TV blaring away, she suddenly jerks back to reality, grabs one last brownie and totters off to the bathroom.  She manages a quick wash and brush, and drags herself off to bed where she tosses and turns until dawn, longing for sleep, forgetting she’d napped all day.  The cat snuggles down behind her knees and sleeps soundly.

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Auntie Jo Advises an Adviser

Auntie Jo fancies herself a bit of an amateur psychologist.  She loves to poke her nose into other people’s personal affairs, listen to their complaints, and offer solutions.  Her willingness to interfere comes from long years of observation and the curiosity of a cupboard full of cats.

…a birth, a wedding, a passing, lost jobs, new jobs, moves up, moves down, just a hint of gossip and Auntie Jo goes into action.

She pulls on a faded tee shirt, size ROOMY, choosing one with a sassy slogan.  She adds an ample pair of yoga pants and a sequined ball cap.  She jams her  “PEACHY CORAL”  pony tail  (Clairol’s color of the month)  through the opening in the cap, slides her manicured pedis into a pair of flips, spritzes a blast of “Parfum de Paree” and she’s off to interfere, invited or not.

The interesting thing is, people appreciate her.  Oh sure, there are a few snarky soreheads:  “Mind your own business, Lady”  or  “Get a life,”  to which she might reply with an equally snarky  “Back at ya.”  (Nobody ever said Auntie Jo was a pushover.)  But snarky or not,  if she thinks she’s needed, she won’t give up.  And advising other advisers is her favorite thing.

I was recently in a family situation that badly needed help.  My brother’s wife’s sister’s third husband left her, and the sister came to me, of all people, for marital advice.  I was at a complete loss, reluctant, and unable to see how I could do any good.

Fortunately Auntie Jo heard of the problem,  (she seems to have her own little grapevine going)  and ended up on my doorstep within the hour.  “Now, what you need to tell her,” she blurted out breathlessly,  “is for her to find out why she can’t hold onto a husband.”

“I could never do that,”  I reply.  “Looky here,”  she butts in,  “When you’re asked for advice, you give advice.”  Finally I mumble,  “Well, you see, it’s like this,”  and I pour out the whole story.

“My brother’s sister-in-law had been dallying with the guy next door.  Her third husband wanted to get even so he was getting it on with the woman across the street, whose boyfriend, the mayor’s chief assistant, had a thing going with the town librarian.  They’d been spotted compromising up a storm behind the NON-FICTION stacks at the library.  The librarian’s husband, our police chief,  was too busy popping in and out of various empty jail cells with a variety of deputy sheriffs  (all female) to pay much attention.

“The husbands and boyfriends of the deputy sheriffs decided to turn the tables, quite literally, with the cute waitresses at the diner.  One of the boyfriends, a truck driver, was regularly inviting my brother’s next door neighbor’s wife to check out the comfy bunk in the cab of his truck.  As it turned out, my brother’s wife was involved with that very neighbor who happened to be my brother’s best friend.  She was seen tip-toeing out of his back door at dawn several times, shoes in hand.

“So where was my brother during all this hanky-panky?  Sitting naively at home, working on his needlepoint, watching Reality TV and wondering why the old gang never dropped around anymore.  As for me, my last romance had ended badly and I was getting pretty lonely myself.

“So you see, Auntie Jo,”  I concluded,   “I really can’t get involved.  I’m going to have to move out of town and take my wimpy brother with me.  It’s just too complicated.”

By now Auntie Jo’s eyes are glassy, her ears are ringing and her mouth hangs open.  She’s at a loss for words  but not for long.  Suddenly an idea strikes,  her eyes light up, she draws in a deep breath and informs me briskly:

“Divorces All Around!!  It’ll be like musical chairs.  When the dust settles, everyone picks a new partner.  You get to be first, and your wimpy brother can have second choice!  Let the rest of them figure it out after you’re out of there.”

I never appreciated Auntie Jo’s advice more.    The mayor and I have never been happier.  As for my wimpy brother and his wife,  they’ve remarried.  No one else would have them.

How to Make a Joke

Several of us recently had the opportunity to take a class called “Putting Humor Into Your Memoirs.”  The instructor was a local stand-up comic and college instructor,  a very funny lady.

Our first homework assignment was to choose a subject, any subject, then write examples of jokes using the 8 categories and types of humor.  Categories?  Types of humor? There’s obviously more to this joke business than I expected.

O.K., I’ll write some jokes.  I’m having a good morning and I am so ready.  Out comes the paper, I pull myself together, sit down and pick up a pen.  So far so good.

Nothing happens.  I stare at the paper.  I gaze out the window at my view, a flock of Canada Geese and a fast-moving river.  I count the geese.  I get up, get a drink of water, sit down again, wonder how many gallons of river water pass by my window every hour.  I doodle a cartoon featuring a wet goose.  More sitting.

I stare at my cartoon, add more feathers.  In a panic I suddenly realize I haven’t taken out  the morning trash.  Whether guilty or grateful for an excuse, I leap up and rush off.

I sit again, wondering just how one can be taught to be funny.  How can anyone create a joke?  Don’t jokes just happen?  Have I missed getting the “joke” gene?  I’m already realizing I’ve missed the  “pick a subject” gene.  I can’t think of a single funny thing to write about.  I’m a failure.  I give up.

The next day I try a fresh approach.  Absolutely nothing funny has happened yet.  I’ll look around and make something happen.  She wants jokes, I’ll give her jokes.

And so it dawns on me; I’m the joke, agonizing over what should be light and simple.  I’m not Shakespeare, for Pete’s Sake, trying to finish off one of his comedies.  OUT OUT Blind Spot!  Get busy writing.

Life is funny.  Where do I live?  In a residence for the elderly.  Why do I live here?  I’m old.  Old people are funny in our own bumbling ways, and we certainly know how  to laugh at ourselves.

Finally a few anemic jokes begin to form, definitely on the lame side,  but I’m trying.  I re-read the 5 page print-out we were given, study the categories and say to myself:  1st category “Misdirection?  Piece of cake.”

So here’s my first joke:

What is the most commonly used word in the English language after age 60?

(change the question to a statement and you’ll get it – Misdirection – remember?)

Well, that was kind of fun.  Getting carried away, I come up with a list of jokes, all referring to the fact of being old and poking fun.

“ LIFE  AT  THE  OAKS”

At The Oaks:  Nearly 200 happy residents and one old grouch who forgot about  OPEN BAR.

Any excuse for a party: new glasses, new hearing aids, remembering a name.

The 3 major food groups here: chocolate, wine and Metamucil.

One of my neighbors is the life of every party, until at least 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. every night.

I have another neighbor who is so skinny she wears her bra backwards and never notices.

I never go to bed early.  I always wait until after my evening nap.

Why are old people such unreliable dates?  By the time we adjust our wigs or hairpieces, our hearing aids, glasses, teeth and walkers, and change our Depends for the 3d time we can’t remember if we were going out or coming in.

Why do we older people arrive at an event an hour early?  Possibly one of 2 reasons – we want time to grab a quick nap before the program begins;

or:    If we happen to be in the wrong  place we can sample the refreshments and still get to where we’re supposed to be on time.

For our last class assignment we’re told to create a Top Ten list, once again coming up with jokes using the 8 categories.  I’m still hung up on the ridiculous side of being old and now I feel more comfortable about the challenge.  ( I’m just thankful we aren’t getting graded.)

And here it is;  my Top Ten list.

TOP  TEN  REASONS  WHY  I  LOVE  BEING  OLD

10.   No unplanned pregnancies   (exaggeration)

9.   No more high heels.  The last time I wore heels I sprained both ankles falling off the wagon clutching  a jug of Chianti.  Heels are dangerous.  Didn’t do much for the Chianti either.  (misdirection)

8.    “20 is the new 80.”   (Or is that 80 is the new 20?  I never know how those things go.)  Now that I’m in my second childhood, I’m taking up zip-lining, kayaking and 40 year old guys.  (list of 3)

7.  I can eat anything I want and still keep my girlish figure.  It’s in here somewhere.   (exaggeration)

6.    My old motto:  Why stand when you can sit?  My new motto: why sit when you can lean back, kick off your shoes and take a nap?   (motto)

5.     Each wrinkle we have represents a memory.  (Isn’t that sweet?  I made it up.)  Every time I forget something, does that count as a wrinkle remover?   (observation)

4.      You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  Old people, yes.  I learn something new every day, forget it overnight and re-learn it the next day.   (cliche)

3.     My brain is like a sponge, wet, soggy and full of holes.  (comparison)

2.    I no longer attend boring lectures given by pompous windbags.  I once heard someone described as  “bearing a proclivity toward heterogenous promiscuity.”  Couldn’t he just say the guy was oversexed?   (definition)

1.  I can tell all the stories I want to and people believe me!