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Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

Echo and the Bunnymen perform for the elderly at Chastain Park.

Dear Fellow Concert-goers (aka Grizzled Old Beasts Just Like Me),

It was great to hang out with you at the Echo and the Bunnymen and Violent Femmes performance last night. Between the sets, I was taking a good look at all of you — people watching, as I do. You know, finding inspiration for this blog and other writing projects.

I noticed plenty of partial and full hair loss, beer bellies, socks pulled up too far, white shoes, varicose veins, gray hair, etc.

“Jesus, these people are old,” thought I.

That uncharitable thought was followed quickly by this one:

“Oh shit. These are my people. I’m old too.”

Dang. That was a rude awakening. I’m still 27. In my head. Forever. As I bet you are too.

 

Notice the beer (which was delicious). Then notice who is beyond the beer. Notice the cane and the socks.

How we feel how we look.

It’s depressing.

😕

But not as depressing as the thought of the geriatric dating game. Some of you were definitely hooking up (or trying to, at least). I mean, good for you.

Eddie and I ended up joking about that this morning (I’m in blue, in case you are cursed with an Android phone):

(Don’t give me flak for hating on the stout hairless men of the world. We all have a type, and that’s not mine. And they don’t like me either. So there.)

If forced, I guess I’d have to get some Botox and lipo and start cougaring. But then I’d have to forget knowing every ’80s song, including the Femmes’ repertoire.

I cannot live a lie.

Just like us (in our minds), the Femmes’ sound hasn’t aged at all.

So I think we should all agree to keep on keeping on, just as Hunter S. Thompson recommended:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a Ride!'”

Ride on, fellow geezers.
Beth

 

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Dear Reader’s Digest,

Thank you for your efforts to empower women. I’m sure this title didn’t seem patronizing when you published this pamphlet in 1973 — 10 years behind the start of the second wave of feminism.

Now, though …

I’m surprised every chapter doesn’t just say, “Call a man.”

To be fair, it doesn’t ever say that, but there is a whiff of condescension. For example, in the “Starting difficulties” section of the “Six dilemmas with your car” chapter, the unnamed writer states:

If your car refuses to start, but the battery has enough power to crank the engine, you may not be using the correct starting procedure.

You must use your delicate lady feet to depress the accelerator.

To your credit, there is some great information in here. But let’s be honest: Not all men are handy, and not all women take to their fainting sofas when faced with an emergency.

Shock? Or Reader’s Digest’s expectations of a woman’s general nature?

A better title would have been the simple, “Guide to household emergencies.” Oh wait — you thought of that as you published a similar guide in the same year under that exact title. Why not call it, “Men’s guide to household emergencies?”

Anyway, lucky for us, the women’s guide is enhanced with these special illustrations:

You too can change a tire without damaging your manicure!

Yet no self-respecting woman (or man, for that matter) should heed your advice regarding toilet clogs:

Try reaching as far as possible into the toilet to dislodge the blockage.

Um … no.

My 1950s June Cleaver-style mom clearly found this guide useful, as it was one of the few things she kept. (She wasn’t particularly sentimental, and thankfully wasn’t a borderline hoarder like someone else I know.)

My mom always liked to be prepared. In fact, she tucked in the pages of your guide this clipping from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution:

Note that the AJC did not select target audience gender. So that’s nice. And rather forward-thinking compared to you.

Anyway, thanks for providing amusement for me 45 years after publication.

Dying to get my mitts on the “men’s” version for comparison,
Beth

 

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Dear Dad,

The last time I wrote to you here, I had satire on my mind. This time it is to complain. Thanks to you, I feel the need to bleach my entire body. This weekend cleaning out your garage was rough.

Even before you passed, I had marshaled the troops (i.e., your son in law and grandchildren who had no choice) to get your garage hoard somewhat under control. Just one bay of the three took us almost an entire weekend, including two trips in two trucks to both the dump and Goodwill.

Since your September demise, I’ve spent many weekend days inside your house going through mounds of paperwork (Why would you save owner’s manuals for appliances you gave away in the ’90s?), office supplies (so many office supplies) and CDs (Four copies of the same Flatt and Scruggs recording? What the heck?!) in just one room alone. At least I was in air conditioning and relative comfort.

This garage cleaning, though … sheesh. Here’s what I personally handled in just three hours:

1. Empty and near-empty bottles of all manner of small engine fluids
2. Stacks of 78 rpm records
3. Hundreds of jars of dried-up model airplane paint
4. All kinds of outdated technology (a slide projector!)
5. At least 45 different species of spiders and bugs, most of them alive and ready to rumble

Some people (you) might say, “Hold on — that’s valuable stuff!” Well, Dad, not when it has been in a detached garage without climate control and regular roach bombings.

Three more trips to Goodwill and another trip to the dump, and I’m not done yet. I see at least three more days of purging ahead of me. And maybe some therapy to address my new daddy issues.

I know it’s bad form for me to be upset with you when you aren’t physically present to defend yourself. It’s frustrating, though, because I remember the week I spent — using vacation days from work, no less — cleaning this very same garage after Mom died in 2009. And you were not happy about it (even though you asked me to do it).

When I tried to get rid of your model-airplane parts, you yelled at me that you were going to get back into building planes. When I questioned the need for 400 cassettes, you said you still listened to all of them — even though there was not a tape player in sight (the reel-to-reel player doesn’t count). When I started to throw away some dry-rotted Christmas decorations, you claimed you used them “just last year” — a statement we both knew was false when Frosty melted in my hands.

I begged you to be more aggressive in your tossing. I remember saying, “Dad, please don’t leave this all for me to clean up when you die.”

Now it’s almost 10 years later and everything is exactly as I left it. Except you’ve added more. For example, what’s this collection in the corner, Dad?

I really don’t want to put my hands in that pile.

I was not prepared mentally or physically for this garage showdown. For one thing, I forgot to bring gloves, a mask, boxes and industrial-strength garbage bags. When Katherine brought out some trash bags from the house, I felt encouraged that they were laden with “rodent repellent.”*

mint-scented rodent repellent bags

That is, until I got a whiff.

Remember my last post in which I said I have a “titanium stomach and a broken sniffer.” Yeah, well, mint-scented rodent repellent apparently is my kryptonite. I could smell that very well. And my stomach did not approve.

I really needed a hazmat suit, a cheering squad for motivation, and an OSHA-approved eye- and body-wash station. I even considered another trip to the Jeju Sauna. That’s how bad it was.

None of my friends should wonder why I like the show, “Hoarders.” It provides cognizance, comfort and coping skills all in one!

I realized, though, while I was doing an extended-surface and deep-body-cavity cleansing afterward that you are still teaching me even though you have moved on to the great beyond.

The lesson?

Never do this to your kids.

Mine will be lucky to get a footlocker from me, as I plan to chuck almost everything long before I kick it.

You know I love you, but I did not love this.

Sigh.

Say hi to Mom and Gram for me.

Your organized and aggravated daughter,
Beth

* Note that it says it is effective against raccoons. Two things:
1. Hando did not come with me on this adventure, so I guess it works on dead raccoon parts.
2. It does not work on live ones, or at least live rabid ones. Katherine tangled with one on the front porch just moments before we got there. (Ironic, no?) The rabid brethren of Hando then tangled with a car and lost.

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Dear Delta Airlines:

It sure would be great if you made sure each seat pocket contained an airsickness bag. I found out the hard way that you don’t.

No one wants to be awakened from a nap with a whack on the leg by a kid saying, “Mama, I need a barf bag!”

Luckily for my nauseated son and the lady in the seat in front of him, I have cat-like reflexes and the mom instinct to save the bag I got when I bought bottled water (no filtered system, Boston Logan? Come ON!).

I also have a titanium stomach and a broken sniffer. My other son, well … not so much. I almost needed two bags.

So much for you being ready when I am.

It was a good thing I found the stray diaper disposal bag in a different seat pocket. The bags one gets with purchased water apparently are not leak proof. It also was a good thing the sick son wasn’t sitting next to his father.

One more thing, Delta, could you please tell your flight attendants not to sneer and recoil in horror when a customer asks where she can dispose of said double-bagged goodness? It’s not something I’ve ever had to ask, so how would I know I had to dispose of it myself in the lavatory?

Your slogan, “Keep climbing,” seemed more like “Keep moving” for them. Not very hospitable.

Anyway, my son is fine, thanks in advance for asking. I’ll remember to bring extra bags for next time in case you don’t heed my advice.

Yours in preparedness,
Beth

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Dear America:

It’s almost your birthday, so I’m giving you the gift of information. This info might help answer a question I’ve been asking since I began traveling throughout the rest of the world:

Why do Americans resist bidets?

There are various commercials that address the perils of paper. Here’s one example:

And various products to help clean up your hazardous waste site:

But tissue is troubling in general. Why not solve the problem in a less wasteful way?

The French get it. The Japanese more than get it. You practically need a user manual, but your special bits will be spic and span.

Americans don’t get it.

And I don’t get that.

Everybody poops. EVERYBODY. (If you don’t, you have a real problem that I can’t solve.) Don’t you want to be as clean as possible afterward?

If you do, here’s a solution: Tushy. It’s an aftermarket, easy-to-install bidet. (NOT to be confused with the anal porn website in HD [!] that I found accidentally when looking for the bidet link.)

I’m happy to be a paid spokesperson if asked.

Come on, people. Let’s get it together. Save some trees. Save some septic tanks. Save your sphincters some friction.

Unless you are into that sort of thing. (And according to that website … nevermind.)

Yours in booty health and wellbeing,
Beth

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One more cruise post. I promise this is it.

Dear Royal Caribbean:

My family and I are veteran cruisers, yet our vacation this month was our first foray into the Royal Caribbean world. We won’t be back.

Here’s why:

Oasis of the Seas is a massive boat that holds about 6,200 passengers. We paid much more than we would have paid on our go-to line, Carnival, chiefly because there was more to do on Oasis of the Seas (a rock-climbing wall!).

However, that makes no difference if the activities aren’t open on a regular basis.

But that wasn’t the only issue. I have comments/suggestions, if you want to read them:

1. The comedy club only holds about 120. That means only about 2 percent of the people on board can see a show. That’s a problem.

2. With the exception of the cabin stewards and the buffet and some dining room staff, the staff are unpleasant, unfriendly people. Either hire people who can be friendly despite the crappy hours they work, or give them better schedules so they don’t become crabby.

3. Fix the microphones in the Opal Theater. The orchestra overpowers the singers at every show.

4. If a party of 11 calls a year in advance, they should be able to sit together at dinner.

5. Accuracy counts in your description of excursions. If you show a water slide in the image of the water park excursion, the slide should be included in the water park excursion. If you say you will be going to a reef and that reef no longer exists thanks to a hurricane, then you need to remove that part of the description and drop the price.

6. Please put chairs and tables along the sides of the pool for nonsmoking adults who want to get together to play Uno. The smokers had the best setup: alcoves with plenty of tables and chairs.

7. Don’t accidentally put salt instead of sugar in the meringue on the first day. That puts people off the desserts for the rest of the time.

8. If you go to the trouble of having an “authentic” British pub, then have the decency to have Guinness on tap. Do not serve it in a can.

9. If you want to entice people to come to the spa, locate it near a window. No one wants to spend money for the steam rooms/hot seats if they are going to be staring at wood paneling. Also, train your masseuses to give an actual massage. If I want to have someone just pat me a few times on the back, I’ll hire one of my kids (and it will only cost me permission to buy a Fortnite battle pass.)

10. If you say you are going to have a volleyball tournament, then you need to have that volleyball tournament. Some people (Not naming any names, Patrick) plan their whole day around it. Don’t make people have to get loud on vacation.

 

11. Please require hairnets or hats for all those who handle food. There were too many hairs in the buffet to count. (And that’s just gross.)

The moral of the story is this: Bigger is not always better.

Sorry, Royal family.

Calling Carnival for next year’s trip,
Beth

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Dear Atlanta Grilled Cheese Festival Organizers:

I wanted to like your festival. Heck, I wanted to LOVE it. Grilled cheese and beer — what’s not to love?

Well …

Here’s a short list:

1. The ticket price
Tickets were $30 plus service fees, making them $35.16. Festival entry, three samples, admittance to the “beer garden,” and live music were included in the price. Still seems a bit steep.

2. The samples
This is more my fault than yours, but I thought that with a ticket price that high, samples would be generous. At least a sandwich or half a sandwich. Nope, a quarter, if that. So 3/4 of a sandwich was included in the price. Yes, they were yummy, but …

3. The “beer garden”
That lofty-sounding moniker turned out to be one tent with about seven kinds of beer in cans: two craft and five crap. Some were not even cold. And they cost $7.

4. Live music
It was Christian music.

5. The heat
Brookhaven Park might as well have been the surface of the sun. Very little shade, 90+ degrees. Within five minutes, I’m sure that every single person in attendance had a steaming undercarriage. This event was supposed to be in April, which would have been much better. Can I suggest moving it to November or December? Or even an Oktoberfest event would be good. No one likes being hot while eating hot cheese.

This is about the extent of the festival. Disappointing.

6. The selection
When you said there was an “amateur division” for voting purposes, I naturally assumed there would be a medley of vendors. There was one amateur entry. One.

The professional vendors almost made up for the lack of amateurs. Just look at this menu board:

The “Hot Mess” was delicious. However, my favorite was the “Sour D” at a different place:

Garlic buttered sourdough toast with American cheese, avocado and bacon. Yes, please.

Anyway, if this is the way it is going to be next year, you are going to have to lower your ticket price. This was, at most, a $10 experience.

Now, if you want to add full-size sandwiches, beer samples and an indoor location in the summer, that’s different.

Yours in love of cheese,
Beth

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