Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's Not Just Me

Dear Guy in Front of Me at the “Hunan Panda” Chinese Restaurant,

     We don’t know each other, but you were in line ahead of me last week.  I was waiting to place a carry-out order and you were waiting to be seated.  I noticed you as you came across the parking lot, your large legs causing you to walk in a swaying motion that reminded me of why Dramamine is one of my dearest friends.  Now please don’t misunderstand me: there is no shame, NO shame, in having a bit of a belly.  It happens to the best of us.  However, Sir, there is MUCH shame is wearing a shirt that is 2 sizes too large with “I’m da big dawg” on the front of it.  If you purchased a shirt in a size that actually fit your frame, my corneas might not have been permanently and irreparably scarred by the mole covered “back boobs” that hung out of your shirt’s armholes.  And, for the record, when one’s feet resemble those of a hobbit from “Lord of the Rings” and fall over the sides of discount flip-flops, one might consider purchasing slightly wider footwear in the future. 

     While I was standing there waiting for my lo mein, I heard your cell phone ring.  And ring.  And ring.  And.    Ring.  Not that Travis Tritt’s “I Smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E” isn’t a dang snazzy ringtone, it’s just that anything repetitiously repeated can get repetitive when it is repeatedly repeated in a most repetitious manner, repeatedly repeated repeatedly.  As the kindly waitress seated you, was it truly necessary for you to lean over another diner’s plate, deeply inhale, and exclaim, “Thet smells good ‘nuff to eat!”? 

     I’m certain you don’t remember me, but if you will think back to your surroundings at that meal, I was the one standing at the front door, mouth agape at your manners.  Not that your “Hyuck, hyuck, hyuck!” laughter wasn’t endearing, but the fact you kept it up for a full 12 seconds while another diner frantically tried to sop up the glass of water her child has spilled was just wrong.  I stood in awe of how your mother, a supposed member of our community, could raise a little boy to behave in such a manner.  I wondered how many more times I would have to hear Travis Tritt singing at decibel levels usually reserved for engine takeoff.  I wondered who on earth could possibly be trying to get in touch with you so many times in one 10-minute span.  How did you get to be so popular anyway? 

     Please forgive me for staring.  Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t digging in your ears with your car keys ever so slightly unsanitary?  Not to mention DISGUSTING?  Really?  Is it just me?  Or is it that we have become a nation of slovenly, unkempt, inconsiderate sloths who have so little self-respect that we have convinced ourselves that manners and appropriate attire are relics of a stuffy, bygone era?  Is it really just me?  Or is the refusal to lower the volume of your cell phone ringer a manifestation of some deep-seated need for attention?  Is it really just me?  Or has the art of conversation given way to the art of self-service?  Is it really just me?

     I paid for my food, grabbed my lo mein, and headed for the parking lot just in time to see you use your car keys as a toothpick.  Nauseated, I ran for my car and as the door closed behind me, I got the privilege of hearing Travis Tritt … one … more … time.  Nope.  It’s NOT just me. 

With Deepest Sympathies to Your Mother,
© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bertha’s Bakers Dozen™: Things I Will Not Allow Myself to Do Just Because I’m Over 75

     I look at aging with mixed feelings.  One the one hand, age is the reward for a life well lived.  On the other hand, age means age-ing and with that comes certain inevitabilities.  Well, Letterman has his ten; Bertha has her Bakers Dozen … and this time, it’s the Things I Will Not Allow Myself to Do Just Because I’m Over 75 list.  Here is the Bakers Dozen list of those things my 75 year old self can not, must not, shall not do:

13) Entertain strangers, in-laws, acquaintances, or non-medical professionals with stories of a personal nature.  I may have overcome malaria.  I may have thrown up something that looked strangely like an octopus.  I may have suffered the pain and irritation of an impacted bowel.  I may have had a hose, tube, or other implement rammed into every orifice of my body, but I will not, under any circumstances, allow these remembrances to become a part of my repertoire of polite conversation topics. 

12) Tell children stupid wives tales under the mistaken impression they will be scared or sickened enough to reconsider their choices.  I remember being 6 years old and having a baby sitter tell me that eating watermelon seeds would cause a watermelon vine to grow in my stomach.  After questioning how a seed could survive stomach acid, root without dirt, and properly grow without sunlight or pollination, she just gave up.  That experience sparked something in my little brain and I have never, and will never, make myself look like an old fool with stories that have no backing. 

11) Ask a 30 year old if he’d like a lollipop.  I know that age makes everything and everybody seem downright prenatal, but I’m setting up a rule for myself right here and now.  Unless the person is in diapers, in a stroller, or has “big” teeth coming in, I will assume that everyone is an able-bodied adult.  It’s just safer.   

10) Schedule my life around my doctor’s appointments.  “Well, I can come sit with the grandkids from 8 until 8:50 but then I have to go because I have a gout appointment at 10:30.  Then I can come back from 2 until 3:20 but then I have to run to my colon appointment.  I can come back the next day, but only for an hour because I have my cholesterol checkup, my diabetes prevention seminar with Dr. Sweet and then I’m off to my “Let’s Get Moving” constipation class.”  

9) Refer to 8:00 pm as “this hour”, as in “Who would be calling at this hour?”  There’s a lot of life that happens after Wheel of Fortune goes off and I am making a pact with myself right now that I will go out and discover some of that life while I still have the hips to make it happen.    

8) Cower in fear of new technology.  I can’t tell you how many older folks I have run into who have this pervasive, overwhelming, wide-eyed, panicked terror about computers.  They are not the end of the world.  They are not the downfall of any generation.  They are not here to replace human relationships.  They are merely an inanimate tool designed to make our lives more organized and keep us connected with people we otherwise would have lost track of years ago.  If something new comes along, provided it doesn’t want a blood sample, I’ll at least give it a try.       

7) Refer to a half-ounce of chicken, two lettuce leaves, and a quarter teaspoon of vinaigrette as a “large portion”.  OK, so your appetite decreases as you age.  Que sera sera.  That doesn’t mean I have to change my outlook on life.  I was having lunch with my group of elderly volunteers one day when I ordered the 6-ounce sirloin and spinach salad off the lunch menu.  A collective hush went around the table as they each realized I was not planning to split my meal with 3 other people.  Just for fun I said, “I can’t wait to take a look at the dessert menu!”

6) Drench myself in musky perfume because my elbow hurts too bad to take a shower.  Perfume does not take the place of daily bathing, I don’t care how strong it is.  No one is fooled and everyone is offended.  If you walk into a room and suddenly everyone breaks out in a collective gagging, heaving, coughing fit, the chances are pretty good the problem is YOU.  The daily shower ritual that began early in life shall continue until death for this gal. 
5) Blame other drivers for the fact that I no longer have reflexes.  Yes, there are inexperienced young people on the road.  Yes, there are impatient people who speed, run red lights, and cross double yellow lines.  But if I have come to the point where I can’t remember to slow down when I see brake lights or I mistake a farmers’ market for the turnpike, it is time to hang up the old license and take a cab. 
4) Ever, ever, ever say “I’m too old” … unless it involves pregnancy.  I once heard someone say that age is just a state of mind.  Well, if I spend all of my time wishing I were younger or convincing myself that life is over at 45, I’ll have a long, boring, panicked 50 year stretch of time to kill.  If George Burns can enjoy a good cigar at 102 and Betty White can still be a crack-up at 89, swearing off adventure just because I’m over 40 is a crying shame.   

3) Reminisce about things that never happened.  In the next 40 years, I’m sure my generation will look more and more respectful, resourceful, and amazing but I will not allow myself to pine for a time that never was.     

2) Scratch my crotch, my butt, or underneath my breasts in public.  Nanny once said that living alone “makes you downright nasty”.  Based on what I have seen, I am inclined to think she had a point.

1) Wear my belt as a necklace.  How is it that the older people get, the more they seem to hike their pants up?  It won’t be long before Great Aunt Magda just pulls her pants right on up over her head and sees the world through the zipper fly.  This is disgusting.  This looks miserably painful.  This is wrong on more levels that I can talk about here.  Even Fran, my cutesy-poo cousin whose 7-foot husband Stan likes to tell stories about how he survived a plane crash at the Battle of Grenada with a broken leg and some paper clips, thinks this is the worst sin a retired person can commit.  She keeps a close watch on Stan’s pants the older he gets.  I, for one, will not wear my pants up that high.  Ever.  And you can quote me on it later.

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

No Mans Land

     I took a few days off from my usual riveting schedule of work, dinner, dishes, laundry, rinse and repeat.  It was time away from my day job to work on my other full time job of running the Grizzly household.  And since the hub of our household is the kitchen, I decided to tackle the most hated of all jobs.  The job that makes me look forward to a pap smear.  The job that makes small children weep and grown men turn pale.  The job that was declared off-limits by the Geneva Convention.  I decided to clean the refrigerator.  Now how on earth, you’re wondering, does such a remarkably well-organized gal like Bertha end up with a refrigerator in such scary shape?  That’s easy. 

     I live with people. 

     If I lived alone, my refrigerator would be a fascination worthy of a magazine spread.  Perfectly wrapped food, no leftovers of any kind because I hate them, and condiments left in the same place each time.  Perfection.  Absolute perfection.  BUT, as I said before, I live with people.  The Yankee and his sports drink addiction lets me know that there will be no less than 12 value size bottles of what I think of as salty, watered down, flat soda.  But he loves it so what can I say.  Then there’s Buttercup. Bless her sweet little heart.  Somewhere deep in the recesses of her little autistic mind, she has this sincerely held, undefeatable, unshakeable belief that empty cups belong in the refrigerator.  Do they belong in the sink so they can be washed?  No.  Do they belong on the counter so they can be refilled?  No.  Do they belong in the trash can to be discarded even though it is wasteful beyond comprehension?  No.  Empty cups belong in the refrigerator.  I’ve bowled a perfect turkey in my own refrigerator just trying to get a carton of eggs to its rightful place on the shelf.  One false move by that dastardly carton and crash!  A perfectly aligned row of empty cups falls over in the back of the refrigerator.  I’ve tried explaining it to her, catching her with an empty cup and directing her to the sink, creating helpful songs to the tune of various Queen hits, drawing a picture story to illustrate my point, but to no avail.  Then there’s our canine family.  Before you have a heart attack, may I just point out that our dogs do not have opposable thumbs, are not allowed to congregate in the kitchen, and certainly do not have refrigerator privileges.  But they are certainly represented.  The Yankee keeps zip-top bags of fat, meat scraps, and small bones in said bags for the purposes of a once weekly dinner treat.  Not that I mind having our discarded leftovers going to a greater cause, it is the bags in general that meet with my objection.  Who wants to see a bag of jiggly, smushy, old fat in the refrigerator?  “Not I”, said Bertha. 

     So, I set about trying to clean out the disgusting bits of what was once a meal fit for a king.  I toss.  I scrub.  I scour.  I bleach until I smell like a hotel swimming pool.  I put everything back where it belongs.  Whole grain mustard actually next to the Dijon mustard.  Mayonnaise next to the 2 other jars of mayonnaise.  Pickles next to pickle relish. Isn’t that an amazing phenomenon?  “Like” things together?  But then again, I live with people and those people return home from their various destinations and life resumes its normal pattern.  In no time my shelves are filled with bottles of salty, watered down, flat soda.  My bowling game is dramatically improving thanks to the rows of empty cups neatly arranged with their respective labels facing the same direction.  Little bags of wobbly meat fat fill the bottom corner.  I sigh and say nothing as I shudder to myself.  I live with people, and I love them.  My world would be a neatly arranged, perfectly matched, harmonious refrigerator sitting in a lonely house with a crazy woman wandering aimlessly, looking for an excuse to smell like a hotel swimming pool.
© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

Friday, June 17, 2011


     My best friend in the entire world is Pocahontas.  She and I met under unlikely circumstances but ours is a bond that has lasted over a decade and will continue on forever.  I’ll keep it short and sweet, but I have to start with a little background.

     I like the outdoors as long as there is something to actually DO and the promise of a hot shower and air conditioning is not far behind.  I hate eating outside at "cook outs" because of the bugs, the stickiness, the wind, the constant sweating, and the inevitable nausea that comes from being overheated.  Also, I've never understood the logic behind, "HEY!!! It's a thousand degrees in the shade and the grass is so dry we could use it for meat skewers let's light a fire and eat with the flies and wasps!!!!"  It was at one such festive, nauseating, bug-infested “cook out” that I met Pocahontas.  A mutual friend of ours was having an engagement party at a park in the middle of August on an afternoon where the air outside was so hot and humid, it was like trying to breathe through a wet dog.  The nausea was already setting in and I hadn’t even made it to the picnic shelter yet.  I could faintly smell the aroma of sunscreen, lighter fluid, and a dirty diaper and was already on the verge of dragging myself back to the car.  I managed to make it to the shelter and find a sweaty bottle of water that used to be cold until the ice melted into a helpless lukewarm pool.  The Yankee was having a great time talking with the other guys and asking who was winning in the volleyball game being played in the sand pit next to the shelter.  Those players were so dehydrated they looked like zombies and I haven’t seen faces that red since Preacher Swanson read the youth bathroom wall out loud at my cousin’s church one Sunday.  I found a semi-shaded spot between a wall and the table of hot dog buns so when I fainted, I would have somewhere soft and vitamin-enriched to land.  Next to me was a moderately pregnant, blonde beauty queen who looked as miserable as I was.  I chugged my lukewarm water and said, “Don’t you love cook outs?”  She cut her blue eyes at me and, with a Southern drawl even worse than my own, said, “’Bout as much as I love Yankee cornbread.” 

     That did it.  We had the best time comparing stories about growing up in the South, how nauseous we were, could it get any hotter, and how we came to meet our mutual friends.  Neither one of us ate but stayed in our soft, vitamin enriched corner, willing each other to stay conscious.  It was awesome.  I found out that she had two college degrees, but was just as snarky and down to earth as I am.  We understood each other, we made each other laugh, and found out our husbands had similarities.  And when she looked over at me with her own sweaty bottle of lukewarm water and said, “Y’all come go with us” and I answered with the requisite, “Wish we could”, our friendship was cemented.  It was the greatest nauseated hour I have ever spent and to this day, we laugh every time someone mentions a cook out.  Her husband, Sarge, turned out to be as delightful company as Pocahontas and our families have somehow become intertwined.  I cried when her mother died and she cried when I struggled with secondary infertility.  She rejoices when Buttercup learns some new way of coping with her autism, and I rejoice when her genius daughter, Blondie, wins another award for writing Newberry-worthy stories at 8 years old.  

    I learned something that day.  Sometimes when you suffer through an experience you hate for the sake of loved ones, you are rewarded with something even greater.  Had I not trudged up that hill, suffered through the bugs and sticky misery of that horrible cook out, I would never have met Pocahontas and Sarge.  The Yankee wouldn’t have someone to swap military stories with and I would have missed out on the greatest friendship and support system ever known.  We will be friends forever; we know far too much about each other and it would behoove us both to maintain a peaceful coexistence.  I also learned something else that overheated afternoon: laughter really is the best medicine, no matter how worn out that phrase sounds.  If I had not had the hilarious conversation with Pocahontas, I would most certainly have needed that soft, vitamin-enriched landing pad.  Because I know the nausea would have gotten the best of me and I would have fainted.  And then I wouldn’t have a friend, but a weird, hot dog bun shaped scar on my head to remember that miserable cook out.  

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bertha’s Bakers Dozen™: The Anti-Bucket List

     Everyone seems to have a “Bucket List” these days.  A list of the mundane, overrated, outrageous, cliché, and otherwise wonderful things a person could possibly hope to accomplish before … ahem … kicking the bucket.  Well, Letterman has his ten; Bertha has her Bakers Dozen … and this time, it’s an Anti-Bucket list.  We’ve all heard about wanting to see the Great Pyramids, drinking pink champagne under the Eiffel Tower, and achieving perfect Zen in Tibet, but what about those things that aren’t so great?  Here is the Bakers Dozen list of those things I will never attempt no matter how long I live:

  13) Own a cat.  If you’re a cat lover, prepare to be offended.  I’m allergic to cats.  I hate cats.  I loathe cats.  I find nothing good in cats save their innate need to kill rodents.  And cat aficionados are irrefutably the worst.  “My precious Fluff-Fluff is not stupid.  She’s just too smart to be trained.”  Yeah.  I’ll let you think about that one for a while. 
  12) Climb Mt. Everest.  Is this not the dumbest goal ever invented?  You wanna know what’s up there?  Huh?  I’ll tell you what’s up there.  Snow.  There.  Now I’ve spoiled it for you.  And while I’m at it, Bruce Willis’ character is dead, the North won, and she leaves the convent in the end.   
  11) Go camping ever again.  Falling asleep in a bag nestled inside a nylon house securely locked by a plastic zipper so I can swear off showers, eat like a hobo, smell like a fireplace, and get eaten alive by anything with wings, claws, or teeth … sign me up! (not)
  10) Be a telemarketer.  Who applies for THAT job?  “You know, I think I’m tired of this rat race.  I’m sick of making other people rich while I try to decide between an oil change and toilet paper.  I know!  I’ll cold call people to sell them things they don’t want at prices they can’t afford all while they are trying to eat dinner.  It’s perfect!  Mom will be so proud!”  
  9) Swim with sharks.  Who thought this was a good idea?  Sharks are predators and predators kill, in case you haven’t figured that out yet.  If you’re going to do something this stupid, why not just pack up a sleeping bag and share a cell with some guys on death row?  Bologna sandwiches, weight lifting, male bonding … sounds like a prime photo opportunity!  “Honey!  Get the camera!”  
  8) Work as a zoo keeper.  I can see the ad now: “Do you love the sound of mating Wildebeests?  Does the smell of unwashed animal bodies and fly-infested dung baking in the hot sun send happy chills down your spine?  Are you ready to ditch the corporate world for the possibility that you will be stung, bitten, gored, trampled, or devoured before 5:00?  If this is you, come talk to us!  Wear boots.”     
  7) Work as a zoo keeper.  I meant daycare worker.  Oh well.  Same thing, really.
  6) Work in a grocery store deli.  Serving every mindless nudnik in town who stands agape in front of the deli case for 20 minutes trying to decide between two bologna brands and then keep adjusting the knob on the slicer to get said bologna to a point where it still holds together yet the newspaper can be clearly read through it … no thanks. 
  5) Go bird watching.  This is a hobby whose attraction has always escaped me.  If I wanted to get up at the crack of dawn with a pair of binoculars, I believe it would have to involve spying on an all-male swim team practice.  That just might be enough to get me up and at ‘em at an early hour.  Man in a Speedo = motivator.  Bird = not a motivator.
  4) Skiing.  I can honestly say I do not understand this one.  Steep hill + man-made snow + removing all traction = not my idea of fun.  I’m all for doing scary things but why attract disaster for the sake of a rush?  Every year, you hear of some poor soul who met his demise by greeting a tree with his face at 40 mph.  Why not just climb the tree … naked … in the middle of winter … blindfolded … running from wolves.  It’s safer. 
  3) Be a contestant on Jeopardy.  Is there anything on earth that makes people feel dummer … dumberr … dumber … (that’s it; dumber) … Is there anything on earth that makes people feel dumber?  You see a category called “So Hip” and you think you might be good at it.  Then the questions end up being stuff like, “In August of 1976, this patent number was issued for an artificial hip-joint for arthroplasty” and then some bespectacled nerd in a plaid suit slams his buzzer and screams “What is 3974527, Alex!”  And Alex smugly nods, ever so slightly annoyed that he isn’t the only one who knows that patent number by heart.  Usually at this point, I take my shred of dignity to the kitchen for a piece of chocolate humble pie and a dollop of beaten self-confidence.   
  2) Be a church janitor.  I think I would do everything else on this list twice before I spent one day as a church janitor.  Their job is never done and their work is never good enough.  He could clean the place 25 hours a day, 9 days a week, using 5 metric tons of bleach every hour, on the hour, and some old lady will walk into the blindingly white, sparkling bathroom and huff, “This place is filthy.  I don’t know what that janitor does all day.”  Younger people aren’t any better.  They seem to think that their children will die of thirst and wither away in a matter of seconds if they aren’t armed with a sippy cup full of sticky juice on their person at all times.  No sippy cup is perfectly leak-proof, I don’t care what the package says.  These droplets of juice that dribble everywhere dry, attract ants and a subsequent uproar over the “stupid janitor” and his lack of attention to detail.  Here’s a newsflash for you: your children will survive for one hour without a cup.  If they MUST have something on them at all times, make it water and water alone.  I have nothing but pity for church janitors.  Who knew Holy water is the devil to clean up? 
  1) Be a runway model.  I just don’t have the patience for that kind of pressure.  Besides, the airport isn't hiring in this economy.

 © Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Why I Wear Big Earrings

     I never thought any deeper about my accessory choices than the age old question, “Does it match?”  Beyond matching, the whys and wherefores, the deep-seated reasons behind why I wear what I wear never really headlined in the variety show of my mind.  I just continued choosing big earrings and wearing whatever matched until the day I wore simple pearl earrings with an elegant outfit and someone said, “I thought you only wore big earrings.  What changed?”  Changed?  Nothing changed.  This elegant outfit called for elegant accessories and nothing fit the bill better than my wedding pearls The Yankee nervously handed to me as a wedding gift.  That bizarre-o question bugged me for the rest of the night.  Why do I wear big earrings all the time?  Is it the mere fact that I’m just drawn to them like babies are drawn to car keys and ponytails, or is it something more deeply philosophical?  After much soul searching and an internal interview, I have surmised the following hypothesis. 

     I've always been body-conscious for a number of reasons.  I've always felt "on the outside", so to speak.  Like the world had this big club in a shopping mall somewhere that I wasn't allowed to join.  I was this huge, tall kid who started wearing women's shoes in the 3rd grade, so it was like, "Well, here's this fun ride, but you're too big for it."  Then I can't find any clothes to fit me because, while I was the height and size of a grown woman, I still had the figure of an 8 year old.  Nothing fit me and I looked ridiculous ... not to mention the 80's was the era that style forgot.  Thank goodness I never got into the whole leg warmers thing ... they probably wouldn't have fit me either.  Then, when I got older, it was like, “You've finally reached womanhood!  Here are the cute clothes for people your age ... oooh, so sorry, you're too big.  What?  You don't want to wear a 2 piece?  Well, the great-great-granny section is down the hall, left turn at the hearing aids.”  Then it was, “Wow you sure are tall!  We have tall pants in sizes 2,4,6,and our XXXL is an 8.  What?  You can't squeeze one butt cheek in our XXXL size 8?  Somebody tax this girl's carbon dioxide emissions!!!”  So, down the hall I go to the fat chicks department.  “Wow!  You're a buxom gal!  We have sizes 16, 18, 20 and up.  This 18 fits really, really, really TALL girls all the way up to 5 feet 4 inches in height!!!  What?  You're 6-feet-in-heels?  Security!!!”

     So I thought, “Well, I guess I'll stick to the few pieces of clothes I can find at Buxom Broads, Inc. that aren't $100 each.  With my high-water pants, I’ll start a Capri pants trend.  I'll just get colored contacts to make my green eyes greener.  That, along with my eye makeup and huge earrings, will take the emphasis off of my granny outfits and high-water pants.”  What?  You're legally blind?  Well, our colored lenses are for special people who are only sorta-blind, but we have these clear lenses that are almost comfortable!!  So, with my clear, almost comfortable lenses I think, "That's OK, I'll get a new hairdo".  And the hairdresser says, "You want your hair to look like Oprah's?  Well, I suggest you get hair donations from 20 of your closest friends because you're bald, darlin'!!  Only special people with tons and gobs of hair can look like her!!!"  So, I perm my 9 strands of hair, thus bringing the spiral perm fad back into haute couture,  and take my clear lenses, high-water pants, and short-people, granny-gauze bathing suit with the bra cups under my ribcage and think, "Well, I'll just use my sense of humor to make people not notice the baldness, clear lenses, high-water pants, and granny gauze bathing suit".  And the world says, "You want to make us laugh?  Ooooooh, sorry, that only works if you're thin with tons of hair, pants that fit, bright green eyes, and a bikini.  OR, you can use tons of profanity and scream the F-word every other breath.  What?  You don't cuss like that?  Well, the retired librarians are meeting down the hall, right turn at the orthopedic school marm shoes ..."

     So, there you have it.  My armchair psychiatric self-evaluation into the deep reasons why I wear big earrings.  Was my momentary lapse into the ladylike grace of demure pearls indicative of anything other than a one-time jewelry choice for a dress-up affair?  “Well, Bertha, only you can answer that.” 

OK, I’m getting on my own nerves now.  

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

An Open Letter to Public Cell Phone Users

As a reasonably intelligent human being and a semi-astute American citizen, it has come to my attention in recent years (mainly based on the fact that I have ears) that many individuals have no idea that there are manners and expectations when using a cell phone, smart phone, or other portable communication device.  As a method of self-preservation and the unavoidable fact that I am in fact, a grouch, I hereby submit this list of requests, nay, demands to John and Jane Q. Public, cell phone users extraordinaire. 

1) Keep your voice down.  While waiting in line at the pharmacy recently, I was scanning the covers of tabloids and secretly debating as to whether the health of my sinuses was really worth standing for 30 minutes for a handful of pills.  In the midst of my inner debate, I heard: “Mom?  Hi!  How are you?”  Like the countless millions of other women who have given birth, my head immediately turned in the direction of the word “Mom”.  There sat a miserable, portly woman of approximately 40 years with chapped lips and a pouty frown who had wedged herself sideways into the seat of the blood pressure machine.  “I’m at the pharmacy right now,” she continued, “so I didn’t want you to wonder where I was.”  My immediate thought was that if her mother had been curious as to the woman’s whereabouts, said mother would have called the cell phone to find out.  But, I digress.  “No, no, no, I’m fine, Mom.  I went to the doctor today and he gave me a prescription I have to get filled.” 
At this point, I wish to make you aware that the woman’s voice was obnoxiously loud for such a crowded and overheated environment like the overflowing line at the pharmacy.  If such phone calls in close quarters are absolutely essential, please keep your voice to a reasonable level.

2) Keep personal details to a minimum.  As this woman continued her conversation, more and more patrons began staring at her.  She didn’t mind in the least.  In fact, despite her obvious misery, she seemed energized by it.  “The doctor thinks I have HPV based on my last pap smear.”  An audible gasp of disgust went through the crowd, growing more and more anxious to flee every passing minute.  Still undeterred, the woman continued, “Yes, Mo-therrrr, that is the one that causes cancer.  The doctor doesn’t think I have cancer but I may have the warts.”  By this time, nausea and blinding mental pictures are making me forget the sinus infection that brought me into the pharmacy in the first place.  “He decided to do another pap today so with that and the blood draws, I am NOT a happy camper.”  She paused long enough to listen to “Mo-therrrr” on the other end and to take a breath before charging ahead.  “Well, Randy hasn’t come near me in a month but who has time for sex with a teenager in the house?” 
By this time, her unwitting captive audience members were beginning to look at one another and mutter responses like, “Really?” or “She did NOT just say that!”  These personal details of her medical problems were not, and I repeat NOT, life threatening nor were they of the nature requiring that they be shared immediately.  If you have personal, intimate, private, or just plain gross information to relay, please wait until you are alone in the parking lot or, at the very least, LOWER YOUR VOICE!

3) Do not gossip about other people.  While the rest of us were staring holes through the pharmacy techs (who felt discussing whose thong showed through their white pants was more important than serving the exhausted, overheated, exasperated crowd), this woman was oblivious that her conversation was making matters worse.  She continued talking about her teenage daughter: “She’s getting such an attitude.  Randy and I can’t agree on how to handle it.  She pits him against me and me against him and then leaves the house when we fight about it.  I told Randy if she’s out messing around with her boyfriend, it’s his fault.”  (Poor Randy.  He probably gets blamed for everything.)  “I told her I didn’t like her attitude and she just rolled her eyes at me.  Can you believe that!”  (We can all hear a muffled shriek on the phone from this woman’s mother, we’re just not sure if it’s disbelief or laughter.)  “I know!  Randy says it’s no big deal but I just don’t like it.  I tried looking through her e-mails but I can’t figure out her password.”  (Hey woman, try “cantwait2be18” …)  All of her jabbering on and on about poor Randy and their daughter was just the last straw.  Don’t gossip, people, seriously.  It’s tacky.  It’s wrong.  And, honestly, nobody wants to hear it!

When my turn finally came to check out, I paid for my pills as quickly as possible and turned to run out of the store.  I got to the door just in time to see someone put a six-pack of beer at her feet and say in a dramatic stage whisper, “This is for Randy”.  Atta boy. 

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.