Lawn Therapy 

Being erroneously told when we bought our house a decade ago that “yards here don’t need a sprinkler system” is on page 16 in my “Big Book of Complaining.” Long time readers have heard me gripe about my lack of lawn irrigation before (cough, cough in July) and are probably now thinking, “Wow, woman let it go.”

I’m attempting to finally get over it by being optimistic about all things I discovered while dragging multiple hoses and sprinklers around my yard. My newest introspection happened this morning and it’s that I’m a grooming slacker.

I say this because every day at 7:30 a.m. I see an older woman walking her dog and she is elegantly turned out. The pièce de résistance is that she’s always wearing a hat. Not one of those pitiful sun hats you get at Home Depot mind you but a very nice chapeau that looks totally in style and Vogue magazine worthy.

Meanwhile I’m still in the T-shirt I slept in and some stretched out leggings from Old Navy doing sprinkler duty. Of course, I could make a pandemic inspired excuse for my appearance but it would be a waste of time. I’ve never been as stylish as this dog walker. The best I could hope for is to wear socks that match.

As I untangled hoses looking at my mismatched socks I began pondering the oft heard phrase “getting back to normal.” Is that really going to happen? I’ve got my doubts.

It’s not that I don’t think there will be a successful vaccine for the coronavirus. I just worry people won’t take it. I have some much younger friends and they are solidly against getting the vaccine.

These women, up to this point, have been pro vaccines but they want “years and years of research” and “other people taking the COVID-19 vaccine” before anyone in their family “gets a shot.” Their thinking is that they ‘ll take a hard pass on the vaccine and let herd immunity do its thing.

I tried to tell them that for a vaccine to work people have to be vaccinated. To reach herd immunity takes time and a vast number of vaccines have to happen. I might as well have been talking to a sprinkler head because these women were not having any of it due to “stuff they had read online.”

If we’re all still in our houses wearing masks five years from now thank a conspiracy theory.

 This thought was interrupted by a neighbor I’d like to douse with my hose who walked by and made a not so flattering comment about my grass. My brain now shifted to thinking about how people have lost their filters and how everyone now thinks they’re funny. Of course, I’m blaming the internet.

On social media it’s easy to think you’re hilarious and yet if you said the same thing to an actual person you’d probably come off as a jerk.

But here’s the rub – if I questioned my neighbor about his yard insults his reply would most likely be that I “can’t take a joke.”

My least favorite phrase because what the person is saying is that you’re not smart enough to get their joke. When the reality is that they’re the stooge but sadly few of us will be that truthful with ourselves.

This is why people need significant others and/or good friends. We all need someone to say, “Hey, you’re being an idiot” or “Did you know your socks don’t match.”

Wait, has dragging hoses turned in a psyche deep dive? Maybe that’s the upside to not having a sprinkler system – lawn therapy.

I’m Not an Expert But I Play One on the Internet

 

A week or two ago I wrote about how the most fundamental of science knowledge and common sense seems to be eluding a significant swath of the U.S. population. Mainly because so many people are espousing the dangers of wearing a mask due to carbon dioxide toxicity and yet medical professionals have been wearing face coverings for at least one hundred years without passing out on the operating room floor.

But, in a strange turn of events it seems that even though American’s science knowledge appears to be limited we are geniuses when it comes to math. This may appear to be a paradox because science and math are like peanut butter and chocolate – two great things that go great together.

So, it stands to reason that if you excel at math your science acumen would be above average. It’s a head scratcher for sure but let’s not dwell on this conundrum and instead focus on the surprising number of people that are suddenly gifted mathematicians.

Now, when I made this discovery I was flabbergasted, no make that shocked, because most folks will readily admit they don’t excel at math or in some cases (me) not only hate math but are still suffering from PTSD from high school Pre-Calculus.

This is why the volume of people on my social media feeds that are now suddenly math experts has been quite a jolt. It’s impressive to be sure that these folks have morphed from being in a non-math centric careers their entire adult lives to suddenly sharing their insights on complex equations and data.

Nothing has summoned all these hidden math geniuses like the debate on whether or not schools should open for the fall. All of a sudden parents were posting their interpretation on data from a wide variety of sources and proclaiming that based on their findings and mathematical extrapolations that the COVID-19 transmission rate is “way too low” for schools not to open.

The dedicated arithmetic aficionados went even deeper and shared their in-depth numerical calculations on high school sports. According to these newbie math scholars, there is no significant mathematical data to show that team sports should be in any way affected by the coronavirus.

Now Bayesian probability and Diophantine equations aside I get it that a lot of parents want the schools to open.  I’m also cognizant that school district officials that have to make these decisions are in uncharted territory and probably need the skills of King Solomon and the psychic gift of being able to predict the future to even come close to making every parent happy.

There is no answer, game plan, or confluence of ideas that will meet every family’s needs or fit in with every child’s learning style. Basically, it’s a huge nightmare that we all want to wake up from.

As parents we zig and zag and then zig some more and keep repeating the phrase “stay flexible.” But what’s not helping is people all of sudden deciding they’re experts in a field they have zero education in (who knew there are so many people that know more than experienced infectious disease experts) and thinking that reworking data or mining it to reach a conclusion that fits their plan to “get back to normal” is helpful.

It’s hard to do nothing, to just wait. It runs counter to our “see a problem, solve a problem” American sensibility. But if people really want to help the only thing most of us have any real control over is embracing the best health practices to keep our family COVID-19 free.

I don’t know what the math equation is for that but maybe it’s one we all need to learn.

Embracing the Incognito Freedom

I’m on a mask roll. Yes, I realize that I recently wrote about masks so let’s call this “Masks – the Sequel.” I feel it is my duty, nay let’s make that my calling, to continue to highlight the upside of wearing masks that go beyond the obvious of saving lives.

True confession – I’m one of those people that, at first, hated wearing a mask. It felt very claustrophobic to me and my reading glasses fogging up was not a thing of joy. But, because I’ve been a parent for 24 years I consider myself a master of being able to turn that frown upside down.

This means I’ve eagerly looked for all the reasons why I should love wearing a mask. At first it was challenging and then I experienced what I’m going to call my profound mask moment.

I had been at the city pool swimming laps and was on my way home when I realized I needed to stop at the grocery store for a few items.

Now, normally after swimming I would not venture into any establishment. I would go home and change and then head back out. This is because after I have gone swimming I look like I have been swallowed whole by a sperm whale and then after getting half-way down the whale’s esophagus the creature thinks, “Yeah, maybe I am too full,” and then forcefully regurgitates me back out into the world.

But, then I remembered that I would be wearing a mask and if I kept my sunglasses on no one would recognize me. So, did it really matter that I looked like rejected whale chow? I came to the resounding conclusion that it did not.

I, cloaked in mask and sunglasses, proudly strolled into the grocery store. Well, maybe proudly is a slight exaggeration. It was more like I kept my head down and tried to get in and out as quickly as I could because did I mention I was wearing a swimsuit cover up?

My only moment of panic was when I had to take off my sunglasses and put on my readers to decipher a spice label. The divesting of my shades left me feeling exposed.

In the Murphy’s Law world in which I reside this is when I would see one of a handful (a rather large handful I’m afraid) of people I spend my life aggressively attempting to avoid.

Number one on that list is a certain elementary school PTO board member that back in the day I had a bit of a kerfuffle with. (It’s a long story best suited for another time. But details aside suffice it to say the incident still festers like an eternal cold sore.)

Well, well, well, guess who I see at the grocery store? Yep, that woman walking towards me with her cart. I quickly ripped off my readers and yanked down my sunglasses that had been perched on the top on my head.

It was then as if everything was happening in slow motion as my brain ran through various scenarios. Would the number one person I never want to see recognize me? Should I run and hide in the frozen food aisle? Do I abandon the cart and bolt for my car? Do I open my purse and stick my head in it?

Miraculously, literally a gift from the heavens, she just walked right by me. Masked and sunglassed up I was unrecognizable. My relief was so potent I got giddy in the spice aisle. It was then and there I celebrated the mask and its gift of sweet, sweet, incognito freedom.

Cheez-It Parenting in an Extreme Parenting World

Help, I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole and I can’t get out. Worse, I don’t even know if I want to get out which is quite frankly embarrassing because I feel like I’m in the  ”Real Housewives” of rabbit holes. By that I mean I’m staying in it because on some level it makes me feel a smidge superior.

You know just like when you watch an episode of the “Real Housewives of New York” and you think to yourself, “Well, here I am sitting on my sofa stuffing my face with handfuls of Toasty Cheez-Its while trying not to get orange Cheez-It residue on the seven loads of laundry I’m folding and also hoping that I can soon garner the strength to investigate an iffy smell in my  basement. But hey, at least I’ve never done something as vulgar as throw a drink in someone’s face while riding in a limo.”

Drawing me in deeper is that this rabbit hole has some stellar parental humble bragging. Go ahead and judge but I love to witness a good humble brag in all its audacity, shamelessness, and over the top glory.

The rabbit hole also features another one of my favorite things – the know it all parent. This fusion of pomposity teamed with humble bragging is like a value size box of Toasty Cheez-It – I can’t not partake.

Please note this hole I find myself unable/unwilling to extricate myself from I didn’t even seek out. A friend, without my permission mind you, added me to a Facebook group and down, down I went. I’m currently daily gobsmacked by the postings on the “Unofficial University Parent Collective” for my daughter’s college.

To confuse you further I’m a late bloomer to this group. My daughter will be a junior in college and I’ve just been introduced to this gem. I don’t know whether to be sad or glad about that. A part of me is a bit bereft that I spent the last two years without being able to wallow in the wonder of this forum.

The current hot topic is parents asking other parents about what classes and professors their kids should take. The parents in the know are responding with in-depth missives combined with assorted humble brags on their child’s genius by stating that the information that is being offered is based on their kid’s “need for exceptional academic rigor.”

This leaves me with so many questions. Topping the list is are these parents going to class with their adult children because how else could they know so much about the inner workings of a certain professor’s teaching style, homework, grading scale and exam schedule?

To be honest I didn’t know that much about my children’s middle school classes. At some point you have to let the micromanaging go. But the bigger head scratcher is what kid at 18 plus years old would allow his parents that much access into the inner workings of his or her college existence?

Should I be jealous, impressed or mystified? I’m choosing to be mystified because I don’t think I want to live in a world where I know my 20 year old’s homework schedule.

Scenarios like this are what’s keeping me firmly entrenched in the Facebook group. I can’t stop reading the posts. It’s a journey to a land of extreme uber parenting. Meanwhile, I’m the Cheez-It parent just along for the spectacle of it all.

I know I need to stop but someone just posted asking what professors are open to communicating directly with parents and sorry but I’m going back in. I have a feeling some epic humble brag bombs about to be dropped.

Home Alone (But Not For Long Enough)

It has been 77 days. 77 long, long days. But it has finally happened. I’m alone in my home. Blissfully alone.

Ah, the sounds of silence because what I’m not hearing is someone on a Zoom call or in a Zoom class or in the kitchen yelling, “Who ate all the Doritos?”

This feeling I’m experiencing is close to euphoria. At long last the house is all mine. As someone who has worked from home for more than a decade the influx of other humans, albeit family members, into my daily workspace has been extremely annoying.

Gone was my routine of working in uninterrupted quiet. Instead I got to enjoy my husband on Zoom calls for literally nine hours a day. It got so bad I put Post It notes in his home office that asked: Could this Zoom meeting have been an email?

My daughter’s college Zoom classes were less annoying because I began crushing on one of her college professors. Whenever I heard this man’s voice I would stop what I was doing and began eavesdropping on her class. This professor has the most delicious vocal cadence. It was equal parts soothing and yet with a certain impish quality I couldn’t get enough of.

My daughter upon noticing me lurking become annoyed and a “little bit creeped out” by my “obsession” with her professor and started shutting her door during her Zoom classes. When I found myself covertly listening in I had to admit she might be right. Maybe it was an obsession.

An obsession I was perfectly fine with because hey, it’s a pandemic. A girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do and this man’s voice was lowering my blood pressure.

Another thing that was most irritating was how much my family disrespected my work zone. It didn’t matter what I was doing they would wander in and out of my office all day. Most of the time their interruptions were for trivial issues like, “Do you think you can get this stain out?”

By all means come on in and disturb my work, which is usually deadline sensitive, to discuss your laundry concerns. The bigger problem here is I’m a sucker for laundry remediation. If someone shows me a stain I’m immediately all in duel wielding OxiClean and Shout.

This means my normally quiet and orderly workday became one of stops and start as if I were in a bumper car with a laptop.

Then there was the issue of the Internet being a diva. With all the assorted Zoom and Google meetings it was almost impossible for me to get a sustained signal. Also, I was apparently low human on the totem pole because my need for any connectivity was superseded by everyone else in the family

This led to me literally loitering outside a McDonalds’s, parking my car as close as I could to the building, and suckling at the teat of their internet. By the way, three words I never thought I would use in the same sentence – McDonalds, suckling and teat.

What’s that? Wait a minute. I hear something. Is that my garage door opening? Is my husband home? How can this be? He’s only been gone three hours. I haven’t even had one of my celebratory “Yay I’m alone” cupcakes.

“Why are you back?” I demanded in a very curt voice.

He sighs and shares that the air conditioner at his office is broken and it’s, “probably close to 90 degrees in there.”

Before I have to chance to tell him to grab a fan and go back he’s sprinting upstairs, yelling, “I can’t talk. I’ve got a Zoom meeting.”

Noooooo!

Can a Patriot Rescue Us from Quarantine Brain?

The word patriot is not what it used to be. A mere five years ago if someone was called a patriot I would assume they were talking about a Paul Revere-esque figure and the whole, “One, if by land, and two, if by sea” declaration. You know like a real spirit of 1776 patriot. Of course, there’s the New England Patriots but I’m talking about the non-NFL franchise use of the name.

To that end it seems like the word patriot has lost its original luster and gravitas. I think that’s because I hear it all the time. It’s a word I always thought should be saved for special or worthy occasions like your good china and silver because you don’t want to wear it out or God forbid tarnish it.

Also, I’ve been pondering is it cool or even proper to call yourself a patriot? It seems to me that patriot is a moniker that should be bestowed on you rather than you bequeathing it to yourself.

These deep thoughts arose from where else but social media. When some cities began lifting their lock down orders my newsfeed was resplendent with acquaintances calling themselves “patriots” for going to malls, restaurants and in one case a nail salon. It left me thinking these folks might need to look up the definition of the word.

Yes, you’re out and about but I don’t think ordering a club sandwich with mayo at a restaurant in San Antonio, Texas is exactly a “Remember the Alamo!” moment.

And this might just be me but I’m almost certain going to get a mani/pedi should never be considered an act worthy of labeling yourself a patriot. What’s the battle cry? “Don’t forget to pumice my heels!”

I admit to feeling unsettled by the hubris. Seriously, in what universe does stuffing your face or getting your cuticles massaged give someone the right to act like they just defused a dirty bomb and liberated a small country?

But, you know, whatever. I’m just going to chalk it up to the lasting effects of “quarantine brain.” This is where your reasoning skills have been impaired due to not enough cognitive engagement with the outside world.

The good and the bad about being locked down with family is that in most cases you’re with people who either share your mindset or don’t but because they value their mental happiness pretend to agree with you. This can give you free reign to bluster nonsensically and then think you might a genius.

I personally wouldn’t know what this is like because my family’s hobby is, with glee, telling each other that we’re wrong. I think the polite term for this is debating so I’m going to pretend that’s what we’re doing. But enough about my family’s interpersonal dynamics let’s focus back on quarantine brain.

I’m certain that’s what has led to so many of the totally asinine postings I’ve seen on social media. You know the ones I’m talking about where you think that perhaps a well person check might be needed or someone has over imbibed and is now keyboard happy.

The worrisome part, besides the postings, are the people that agree in the comment section thus fanning the flames of  “morons unite” even more. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say it’s been an inferno of ignorance. Common sense during this pandemic is going up in flames.

Yes, I realize that stupidity shared online is nothing brand spanking new but truly I think it’s reached new heights and my diagnosis is quarantine brain.

Perhaps a patriot can ride to our rescue. Hopefully one that has done more than eat a sandwich.

Covidiots

When we make it through the other side of this Covid-19 nightmare I’m hoping future generations won’t look back and say, “What a bunch of idiots.”

Because that’s what I’m thinking right now – idiots. Spoiled, selfish, willfully clueless stooges.

I don’t remember ever being more disappointed in humans. I’m literally going to go running in the streets screaming, while maintaining a safe space six feet distance from other pedestrians, if I hear one more person justify taking their spring break trip in the midst of a pandemic because they had “already paid for it” or “didn’t know it was that bad.”

Are-You-Kidding-Me? You knew it was “that bad” because when the majority of spring breaks happened almost every single college and university in the country had closed down because of the coronavirus. Institutes of higher learning don’t take the unprecedented action of sending more than 20 million students home on a lark. They do it because things are bad, tragically bad.

And that “we already paid for it” argument, well, guess what? The rest of us are now paying for it. It doesn’t matter that you posted on Facebook that you “came home healthy” or your teens are “sunburn and feeling great” because you can have Covid-19 and not know it nor show symptoms and yet you can still spread it with a vengeance. And P.S. as a citizen of the world you should be informed enough to already have this knowledge.

Also, if you have a college aged student that you are supporting financially and you shared on social media that you “can’t tell a 19-year-old to not go on spring break” I’m going to conjecture that the coronavirus might not be your biggest problem.

The fact is the spring breakers knew all this and still chose to go for no better reason than that they wanted to. Damn the science and those pesky guidelines. Those apparently are for other people.

There are friends I’m deeply disappointed with because they’ve been so self-indulgent. Please note these are people I thought were very intelligent who valued science. But I guess science is now something you pick and choose when to believe as befits your lifestyle or spring break travel plans.

If I sound harsh sorry not sorry because I know I’m not alone. There are now therapy websites giving suggestions for how to deal with family and friends that are not following the Center for Disease Control guidelines. #covidiots.

But what about strangers that have chosen being oblivious as their current course of action during this siege? The people who apparently have zero spatial awareness and no compunction about getting within kissing distance of you while in the self-check-out line or the people treating a trip to the grocery store like it’s a family reunion?

Public health officials and grocery stores are pleading with people to only send one person per family. Why is that so hard to understand? The grocery store is not a “fun outing” it’s a tactical Ninja maneuver where you want to avoid people and get in and out as quickly as possible.

And I feel immensely stabby when I still see people still clinging to the “It’s just like the flu. The flu kills more people” mantra. Are these people so brain impaired that they live in a constant state of denial or do they cling to falsehoods in an effort to justify their behavior of doing whatever they damn well please?

While I’m on the topic of denial let’s talk about all the claims of “fake news” or the “hysterical media.” My thoughts on this are if you think the news is fake or the media is blowing the coronavirus out of proportion than check out the World Health Organization or the CDC websites. Also, here’s the deal about throwing around the phrase “fake news” – just because you don’t like the news doesn’t make it fake.

For instance, I’m overweight. That is a fact. Do I like being told that? No. But it doesn’t make the information any less accurate. So, just because you are choosing not to believe the Covid-19 data doesn’t erase its scientific merit and calling it fake doesn’t give you a magical shield of protection it just makes you an egocentric ignoramus. Quite possibly an ignoramus that is not going to follow best practices and result in us being under lockdown well into the summer.

As for the hoarders I can’t go there right now. It’s hurts my heart too much. I currently don’t have the emotional bandwidth to fully digest this level of selfishness.

Perhaps, nothing symbolized to me people’s lack of concern for anyone but themselves more than when I found two used latex gloves in the parking lot of my grocery store. The gloves were by the cart corral and I can only surmise that this gloved person upon returning their cart, took off the gloves and threw them on the pavement because they didn’t need them anymore nor did they want the germ laden gloves in their car.

So, bye-bye gloves and hello some overworked grocery store employee having to pick up your pandemic detritus.

I’m urging everyone, myself very much included, to try to do better so that not only do we come out of this healthy but with a newfound sense of compassion and intelligence that supersedes are own immediate wants and needs.

 

 

Sprinkling Our Outrage

The human brain is fascinating. It lets us conveniently forget unsettling facts and allows us to process information in a way that shields us from thinking too deeply or even logically. My current deep thoughts about brain science are brought on by the outrage over the Super Bowl halftime show. I know totally old news, right?

But is it? Because I think it’s a case study in how people chose to get all riled up about the little things instead of saving their fury for bigger issues.

I must confess that I didn’t even see the halftime show. But after all the “clutching my pearls” horror about J. Lo and Shakira’s 12 minutes on stage flooding my social media newsfeeds I went back and watched it.

My fundamental takeaway as a 50 something woman viewing the performance is that Jennifer Lopez at 50 is now my spirit animal. Just wow.

That said, I can understand how some people, people who have never experienced a swimming pool or been on the Internet in the past 20 years might have been dismayed to see women exposing more than their clavicles. For the rest of humanity who sees more skin revealed at their local Walmart I just didn’t get all the “world is coming to an end” verbal ragers on social media.

It boggles my  mind, like really astounds me, that with all the horrific and frightening things happening right now why would any of us focus this much energy and emotion on a Super Bowl halftime show that lasted 720 seconds?

My theory is because it’s easy. It’s outrage for the lazy who want to bask in the attention from making a statement that has no real impact on anyone’s lives. It also makes me think of sprinkles. Sprinkles on cupcakes to be exact.

Years ago, my children attended an elementary school that banned sprinkles on cupcakes. The reasoning was that during school parties the cavalcade of sprinkle enriched treats that were brought in created a mess.

I totally understood the ban because sprinkles, much like Christmas tree tinsel, is the gift that keeps on giving. You think you’ve got it all cleaned up but weeks later you’re still finding tinsel or in this case sprinkles.

The backlash from the sprinkle ban was intense. There was even a “Save the Sprinkles” petition. Meanwhile, the state legislature was annihilating the school funding budget which was already gutted. Yet, this issue that had a real and lasting impact of education didn’t even garner half the attention the sprinkle ban did.

It’s because being pro sprinkles was so much easier than doing any work that was focused on advocating for education funding. Sprinkles are colorful, fun, easy. A grassroots effort to fight the legislature not so much.

Never mind that our kids could survive and even, fingers crossed, thrive in a sprinkle free learning environment. Something you couldn’t say about schools without art education and increased class sizes.

The sprinkle protest much like the recent halftime show fury quickly died down and was replaced with more interchangeable outrage over things that have zero impact on our lives but yet bring some form of, dare I say, enjoyment over getting all worked up about.

It makes me wonder what we could accomplish if we retrained our brains to think more deeply and instead of reacting over the trivial focused our attention on issues that have a real impact on our lives, our future, our humanity.

But I know that sounds like a whole lot less fun and and requires a whole lot more effort than going off on two middle-aged women dancing and singing during halftime at a football game.

The Yuck Factor of Flying is Getting Worse

When did we become a society devoid of being cognizant of our surroundings? And what has happened in the past decade to give people the mistaken belief that they possess a super power and are cloaked in a shroud of invisibility?

Nothing brings out these let’s call them personality foibles like sitting at the Southwest gate at the airport. Oh yes, you’re right I’m going to go off on airports – again. Sorry not sorry because the issues I’m about to delve into need to be discussed so corrective behavior can begin.

Let’s tackle the whole being cognizant of your surroundings first because this seems to be getting worse at such an alarming rate I fear I’m going to become some sort of rogue airport manners sheriff and end up in an altercation that might lead to me being arrested.

Lest you think I’m being overly dramatic I’ll give you a brief synopsis of what I saw earlier this month while seated in the gate area of three different airports. Behold the woman who took what looked to be every article of clothing out of her suitcase, laid these clothes out on the less than hygienic airport carpet and then began to use a battery operated sweater shaver on her clothes up to and including a bra.

For those of you blissfully unaware of what a sweater shaver is let me share that it defuzzes your clothes. I’m on team sweater shaver. I have one and love it. What I’m not on is team sweater shaver at the airport.

Besides the yuck factor of having your clothes mating with the floor of the Southwest gate area there’s the inappropriate nature of doing personal laundry care in a public venue.

While this was unsettling it had nothing on the woman gleefully plucking her companion’s ear hairs while seated at a restaurant inside LAX or another woman pumicing her heels because nothing says, “I value public health” like jettisoning your hoof detritus into the atmosphere.

Because I’m now a little nauseous let’s move on to the truly disturbed masses that believe they’re invisible thus enabling them to Facetime their loved ones, a doctor, co-workers and perhaps even a telemarketer while waiting for their plane.

I know the whole talking on speakerphone in an airport is nothing new but this assault on the ears on the traveling public has reached an epidemic.

What must have happened to someone to make them believe that putting their phone on speaker and shouting into while corralled in a public space is okay? My theory is these speaker shouters are narcissists.

This behavior fits the classic narcissist profile where the person has an expectation of special treatment and an insatiable appetite to be the center of attention. There’s nothing that says “look at me” like having a “yellversation” on speakerphone at Gate 35 at KCI.

You know how some people have a travel bucket list? Well I also have one and it’s not to walk the Great Wall of China or to scale Everest (hard pass). On my bucket list is to start telling people to rein in their desire to do laundry remediation, eradicate wayward hair follicles and purge their foot funk while at the airport.

I also would love, really love, to tell the speaker phone aficionados to turn down their phone volume and comport themselves in a manner that doesn’t scream, “I might need counseling.”

I’ve never seen the Great Wall but I’m thinking to be able to be the “Manners Sheriff” at the airport just might top that experience.

Writing Can Get Pretty Ugly

*Note:  I write a weekly opinion column for the Kansas City Star. Some of the stuff I muse about is a little more political in nature than I what share on this blog and by that I mean in the past I have written about education reform, health care etc. Because of this I get emails where people disagree with me, which is totally appropriate and welcome. This recent column was in regards to people who feel free to write to me about my looks – because that’s how you disagree with a woman right – by disparaging her appearance? Ugh. I’m sharing this column on my blog because I believe it has a message that will resonate with a lot of you.

 

I don’t get a ton of emails from readers of my Kansas City Star column hating on me but I get enough that I’ve been able to classify them into categories.

There’s the people that can’t grasp the concept of self-deprecating humor and therefore think I’m an idiot. There are the people that like to write me six paragraph emails on an almost weekly basis with the theme of, yep you guessed it, that I’m an idiot. There’s the people who disagree with me on a topic and use this as an excuse to take out all their life frustrations on me and then there’s my favorite – the people (all male based on their email signatures) that like to tell me an idiot AND that I’m unattractive.

These brings me a special joy because I’m in awe of how any man could have the hubris to believe that I care about their opinion in regards to my looks. As an advanced middle-aged female giving a hoot and holler about what any man thinks about my appearance ended about four decades ago.

How some dudes could conceive that telling me I’m unattractive or fat is going to be the coup de grace of my existence makes me laugh. Also, what makes these men presume womankind cares about their opinion on our looks?

Haven’t we as a society gotten past that just a wee bit? Sure, based on social media you could think that that answer to that question is a great big NO.

But don’t be fooled by all those filters and sexy posts by women on Instagram who are living the “like my post and link in bio” lifestyle. Most females today care more about than own judgment way more than what any guy thinks. Plus I think we’re raising girls today to have what I call self esteem swagger.

I’d like to believe that my father was a pioneer in this trend. Almost every day of my life he told me I was smart, beautiful and strong.

When I was in high school he drove me to school in the mornings and the entire seven-minute drive consisted of my dad telling me how amazing I was. It became a running joke between us. I called it “Dad’s morning pep talk.” He called it “telling it like it is.”

I would greet his soliloquy with rolled eyes and share that he was “full of it” but the man knew what he was doing. To this day if I’m having a crisis, large or small, I go back to what he told me on those drives to school.

This is why when men send me disparaging emails I feel sorrow and it’s not because they think I’m a “fatty” or “could use some work” but because based on my father and role model they’re failures as human beings.

I worry about any man who could write me, an aging female with no illusions about becoming an AARP super model, to call me out on my looks. What kind of man, husband, father are you that you can email a woman and attempt to tear her down by commenting on her appearance?

If you’re doing this to me, a total stranger, than how must you treat the women in your lives and what kind of damage are you doing to their mental health?

My dad’s name was Bob. I’d like to suggest that before you hit send on that next hate filled email you think about your legacy or as my husband likes to say during any big family decision ask yourself, “What would Bob do?”