I’m not Nora Ephron, whose book I Feel Bad About My Neck, is a bemused look at women’s aging. She realized this when she was a lunch after facelifts and everyone was wearing turtlenecks. My own list, however, is true for my friends and me.
Do not attempt until ½ hour after shower or bath. Items of clothing will not move
Walter struggled to put his swim trunks on over his wet buttocks. He hated to let the other men see him lose his balance teetering on one foot but he was too proud to lean against the wall or try to hold onto the locker to steady himself.
Meanwhile his wife Lois was in the women’s dressing room hobnobbing with the other ladies who came for the free swim for seniors on Tuesday nights. All of them rested themselves on the benches and traded community gossip, grandchild stories, worries about children throwing their lives away, and Wal-Mart prices. They showered after they put on their suits, unlike the men.
Because the arthritis class was free, the group shared the indoor pool with the handicapped swim program. This made for a crowded time, but it was worth it – after all, it was free. One night Walter had caught a cold when someone left the door to the outdoor pool open, and since then he had had to wear a t-shirt when in the water. But overall it was good for the limbs. Continue reading
You have to understand I consider myself the Forest Gumpess of my Midwestern city. I say this because of the critical intersections of my life with the leaders of the city that, even though they are unknown to the vast majority, were still part of major movements at the time. I worked with a Congress on Racial Equality leader, an early civil rights attorney, a police community relations trailblazer acknowledged by the White House, conferenced with two mayors and the director of municipal corrections. Helped another social services leader get her community projects off the ground before she was nominated to the President’s Council on Volunteers. After the riots, organized mediation between the business owners and the residents, helped parents lobby for changes at the largest high school, organized fundamental changes in the way the school board was elected, and garnered community members for boards of Model Cities, urban renewal, and other governmental programs. I worked on the model for Habitat for Humanity before it was Habitat and helped another trailblazer push fair housing before it was the law. I worked with the human relations commissions of both cities and helped integrate a neighborhood. I kept a lookout over the property where a prominent leader built his cultural center while I worked at City Hall so I could notify him of any Planning and Zoning potential threats to the property.Continue reading
Gackles, cardinals, finches, sparrows and robins flocked to the backyard that held each one’s special mix of bird food year round. Most of the neighbors kept their feeders supplied in the winter, but didn’t think they needed to in the summer. Spring and fall contained lots of berries and rains made lots of puddles for thirsty birds. But George, the celebrated birdman of Grandview, knew better and continued to keep his feeders supplied year round.
One day he left to go to his 50th high school reunion. There he met the girl of his dreams, Marian, the one whom he had been too shy to speak to when he was in the 4th grade. Yet, there she was, so many years later. He couldn’t believe it. George’s romance began to take him away from home for longer and longer periods of time. The feeder food and birdbath water began to subside and he was hard pressed to keep them full in between his absences.
Once when he was breakfasting, he glanced out the window to see a gackle perched and peering into his back porch window. Cocking its head, it opened its beak and made sounds which George could not hear through the patio door. Watching the bird closely, he noticed it was flying back and forth rapidly from the feeder, the bird bath and the back porch swing. In between its stops, it would peer at him more and more, almost like a glare at times, and futilely move its beak as if praying for some message to get through.
George finally went outside and noticed the bird bath was a little low. He filled it and yet the birds continued to flock back and forth, chirping their instructions. It was now September and the winds were getting colder. George bundled up his blue flannel shirt tighter and looked at the clouds racing across the sky. His bird companions continued to flutter and were now perched on the birdbath but not drinking. Instead, they seemed to be eyeing George and dipping a talon tenatively in the bath.
George wondered what this unusual behavior could mean but filled the bath again. Again, the birds took turns perching and dipping but not ever depleting the supply of water. Suddenly, a fly, boxelder bug, and a spider crawled out from under a corner of the Adriondack chair next to the birdbath and three birds each dove and picked one up in its beak. They gingerly placed the insects in the birdbath and watched them swim around, yet they did not try to eat them.
Shaking his head, George went back to his Laz-y-Boy recliner to watch his Nature channel show. The urgent spokesman came on and George was about to turn him off when George found he was advertising an appliance he had looked for a long time and had not found: an electric birdbath warmer. He could hardly believe his ears and eyes because it had been over a year since he had seen one advertised but he had misplaced the catalog with it advertised in it (he often forgot things if he slept in between times). Now, here was his second chance. He whipped out his credit card, dialed the number, and ordered it lickety split. He paid the express surcharge since the winds were now getting stiff and the temperature dropping. The birds were observing the transaction from their perches on the back porch.
The next day the electric warmer arrived and George could hardly wait to get it installed. The birds watched with interest and George stepped back to admire his work. It wasn’t but a few minutes, though, until he noticed the birds were catching more flies, spiders, and bugs for the birdbath. One even caught a grasshopper. George just shook his head and went to bed, but not before he called Marian , who didn’t have an explanation for the birds’ strange behavior either.
The next morning he sat on the porch enjoying the crisp air, the sunrise, and coffee in his favorite cup and watching his cat, Little Orphan Annie, playing with her ball of string. He noticed how much smaller the ball was than yesterday and this fact gave him pause, but, again, he had slept since then. A raucous chorus of bird cries drew his attention. Turning to the birdbath, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The heated birdbath water was steaming and swirling in a miniature hot tub as the insects tied to the center swam around and around. The gackle had tied a piece of string to the grasshopper and was hopping in and out of the foam. The sparrow was soaking its feet in the water next to the cardinal, who was just taking off his sunglasses. The robin was drying his wing on a towel and oiling its wings. But worst of all the finch was water skiing by following the fly and spider around the birdbath as they pulled him as fast as they wanted to escape.
George blinked but it was all true. The bird spa and resort was fully operational and migrations were coming in from the north. Soon, he couldn’t see his back porch, but he wasn’t afraid. These were his friends and, after all, he was the celebrated Birdman of Grandview. He went down to his woodshop and began making the frame for the beach canopy.
My friend and I recently saw a bumper sticker on the car in front of us that said, “My car always runs as good as my stockings”. Her husband did not understand why we were laughing hysterically in the front seat. It occurred to me that there are many mysteries of women’s daily coping which escape the uninitiated. One of these mysteries is the purse, fraught with an elaborate symbolic structure rivaled only by the major religions of the world.
Betty Harrigan wrote several years ago that not using a purse could soar one’s career path at the speed of light. Of course, she had to recant. There is no end to purses nor to their significance. Recently the “fanny pack” has attempted to make the purse’s function more efficiently designed. Obviously this is a gross judgment in error and evidence of almost unforgivable naiveté on the part of merchandisers of women’s accessories. These bags, when worn in front, side or rear on women, simply look ridiculous. There is no civilized substitute for the right handbag.
First consideration: the size. The minute versions which hold only one hankie, a breath mint, and a pin, are exquisite statements not only of economy but of a magic act. They elegantly state that here is a woman who can maneuver expertly amid the concrete jungle of city night life and still get home in the morning completely unmussed. On the other end of the spectrum is the small suitcase, which, camouflaged as a purse, can equip us for an entire trip to Mecca and back still suitable for being photographed at the pyramids.
Next, shoulder or hand carried? Or, better yet, a purse that can do both. Although when I buy this type, I am constantly confronted with the necessity of making a decision on whether to use the long strap or not. On second thought, scrap this one. Just decide before purchase. A purse should assist your living, not complicate it. Even though the crime stoppers say use the shoulder version, they’ve probably never had their shoulder dislocated as a result of a determined mugger.
What of sacred materials? Unknown mixtures from unknown lands? It’s all available, but some have longer lives than others. Of course, manufacturers don’t maliciously produce handbags which fray when removing the paper stuffing and immediately after throwing away the price tag and receipt. It’s just that, well, they can be so beautiful when they’re uselessly constructed.
Structure: Compartments are required in the covert operations of daily survival. One small especially sturdy one is necessary for keys, which, as we all know, seek the lowest, darkest level of purse life by nature. Clasps and handle fastenings should have been pretested by special
combat forces before marketing. The interior must be able to survive intense digging and retrieval efforts and the exterior must be able to survive even a car wash and still shine.
Hopefully this guide will help the retail industry and other non-initiates into the divine heritage of the purse. A purse leads a double life. Sure, you think it’s a fashion accessory. It’s supposed to look like a fashion accessory. But women know what it really is. Armor.