Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Losing Wait

Hubby recently turned fifty-five, that middle-age milestone when you realize that no matter what else happens decaf is here to stay. You also become aware that for the first time in your life, your thirty-something coworkers are calling you “Gramps.”

A sure sign that hubby was beginning his inevitable journey through the Golden Years began five years earlier when he received his first issue of “Retirement Today” magazine, featuring such riveting articles as “When Tennis Elbow Kills.” In addition to this informative periodical, hubby now enjoys the added benefits of senior discounts at movie theatres, department stores and Bubba’s Bistro.

Reflecting on this sad state of affairs, he made the life-altering decision to get a complete physical to assess the damage caused by decades of armchair football. The diagnosis wasn’t surprising. Hubby is fifty pounds overweight, his cholesterol is off the charts and his blood pressure exceeds that of an espresso-addicted monkey. Consequently, the kitchen counter has become a pharmacy with bottles of pills for his various ailments, which include the aforementioned maladies, along with acid reflux, back pain and shin splints.

Following doctor’s orders, hubby undertook a mission to lose weight and get more exercise. Over the years he had tried every diet known to man: Northwest Beach, the Twilight Zone, Cupcake Busters. His favorite was the Gazpacho Jack Daniels Diet; every meal included a bowl of tomato soup with a whiskey chaser.

Despite his failure in the past to lose weight, he was enthusiastic about changing his lifestyle and determined to slim down. His excitement was inspiring. Just the other day at the grocery store I was delighted to see him rounding the corner with a bag of fat-free potato chips and a six-pack of diet root beer.

Hubby had better luck with his exercise regimen, which meant a work out at the gym three times a week. He used the treadmill for aerobics and lifted weights to tone his triceps, biceps and abs. I’m sure there were abs in there somewhere. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. But apathy set in about two weeks later and the excuses started flowing like melted butter on corn-on-the-cob. Weak ankles. Blister on toe. Denver Broncos didn’t make the playoffs.

After thirty years of marriage, I’ve learned that hubby needs my encouragement and support if he’s going to achieve a healthy lifestyle. I’m up to the challenge. Maybe an incentive will work. When he loses his first fifteen pounds, we’ll use his senior discount and make a reservation for two at Bubba’s Bistro.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Dinner Talk

Rebecca’s hands tightened into fists and she furiously shook her head, trying to dispel the obsessive thoughts that assailed her daily. She didn’t know that studying for “Jeopardy” would be such a challenge. She had memorized hundreds of facts that were crammed in her head like a box of crayons with every color under the rainbow. Black forest, red velvet, white wine, blue cheese, hash browns. STOP IT! Unable to sleep more than a few hours a night, she was exhausted. This had been going on for weeks; Rebecca wasn’t used to getting such little sleep. Little John, Friar Tuck, Will Scarlett, Maid Marian, Sheriff of Nottingham. KNOCK IT OFF! Offend, runoff, official, offshoot, trade off. NO!

Her friends Zoe and Marla had joined her for dinner to celebrate her being chosen a contestant, and tomorrow Rebecca would be flying to Hollywood. Her greatest fear was that she’d look like a complete idiot. Buffoon, dolt, laughingstock, moron, lunatic. NOT AGAIN! What was she trying to prove, anyway?

Rebecca wiped her hands across her apron as she turned to the pot that was now boiling over. When she was putting the hot pan in the sink, she noticed a movement in the reflection of the window. She turned quickly, but Zoe and Marla were still sitting motionless, right where she’d left them. Rebecca didn’t want them to know how nervous she was about the show, or about the voices. At first, her rambling thoughts only happened when the room was quiet. But now it was getting worse and she had trouble controlling it. She took a deep breath, and with a forced smile, carried the bowl of steaming pasta to the dining room.

“Penne pasta and marinara sauce!” said Marla. “Beck, you’ve outdone yourself this time.”

“I adore your cooking, Cheri. This delightful repast reminds me of a funny story. Have I told it before? I don’t think so. Or have I? No, I’m fairly certain I haven’t. Anyway, when Roger and I were in Paris last summer, we dined at this quaint out-of-the way bistro…”

Rebecca didn’t hear the rest. Her thoughts carried her away into another category. What is the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Champs-Elysees?

“…and can you believe it? The waiter forgot the wine!” Zoe finished her story with a dramatic shriek of laughter.

What is Bordeaux, Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy, Roussillon?

Marla chuckled politely for Zoe’s benefit and then glanced in Rebecca’s direction, “Are you okay, Beck? You look a little flushed.”

“I’m fine. Too much wine I guess. How’s the salad?”

“Wonderful,” said Marla.

“Divine,” said Zoe.

“Good. I wanted tonight to be special.”

“You’re not nervous about the show, are you?” asked Marla.

“No, not all.”

Zoe sipped her Chablis and said, “You have nothing to be afraid of, my dear. You’ll reign supreme!”

Who is King Louis, Queen Elizabeth, Tzar Nicholas, Ferdinand, Isabella?

“In fact, Beck, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were one of the all-time winners!”

“Well, I don’t know about that…” said Rebecca.

“Don’t be so modest,” said Marla. “You’ve told us how it’s always been your dream and how you’ve never had the courage until now. We know you’re ready for this. Don’t worry.”

Rebecca nodded and a faint smile played at the edge of her lips. She didn’t deserve such devoted friends. Marla and Zoe were right. She would be just fine.

“Marla, darling, what exhibits are on display at the gallery this season? I’m dying to see something new,” asked Zoe.

What is renew, Newport, newlywed, New Delhi, newsworthy?

“Well,” said Marla, “in December we’re showing works by an artist from New Orleans by the name of Jim Stone.”

What is amethyst, topaz, emerald, zircon, sapphire?

“Never heard of him. What has he done?” asked Zoe.

“He’s a sculptor. Specializes in Old West motifs,” Marla replied.

Who is Buffalo Bill, Crazy Horse, Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley, Geronimo?

Zoe sniffed in disdain. “Old West? I didn’t know there were cowboys in New Orleans.”

“You’d be surprised, Zoe. New Orleans is quite the Renaissance city.”

Who is Da Vinci, Copernicus, Botticelli, Cervantes, Monteverdi?

Marla continued, “It’s not all about Cajun cuisine and Jazz, you know.”

What is gumbo, jambalaya, ragtime, bebop, swing? STOP IT! Rebecca stood up abruptly.

“Is everyone ready for coffee and dessert?”

“Absolutely,” said Zoe.

“Do you need some help?” asked Marla.

More than you know, thought Rebecca. “No, I can handle it. Just make yourselves comfortable in the living room. I’ll be right back.”

In the kitchen, Rebecca sliced three generous portions of German chocolate cake. Eins, zwei, drei, vier, funf. Suddenly her hands started shaking uncontrollably. Just slight tremors at first, but quickly turning into sharp, jerky movements. She dropped the knife. As it clattered to the floor, she bit her knuckles in fear. What’s wrong with me?

“Beck? Are you okay in there?”

“Just dropped the knife. I’m okay.” Monet, soufflĂ©, Bombay. The room was spinning around and around like a carousel and Rebecca was getting dizzy…fizzy…tizzy. Her head hurt and the voices grew more persistent. Jupiter…hickory smoked…For Whom the Bell Tolls…

Rebecca screamed, dropped to the floor and crawled into a corner of the kitchen. Marla and Zoe ran in and found her there in a fetal position, clawing at her hair and moaning in agony. Bermuda Triangle …peregrine falcon…Margaret Thatcher….NO! Sardines…quantum mechanics…Prohibition…HELP ME! Centigrade…Dow Jones…Frosty the Snowman…MAKE IT STOP?

As Marla dialed 911, Zoe reached down and stroked Rebecca’s cheek, speaking words of solace. “Don’t worry, Cheri. We know you’re a tiny bit anxious about your appearance on the show and that you’re terribly afraid of looking like a fool, but you’ll be fine. Just fine.”

Sunday, April 01, 2007


I will now say a word and I want you to say the first word that comes to your mind. Ready?

PATIENT: I think so.

SHRINK: "Word."

PATIENT: Okay, go ahead.

SHRINK: I already did. "Word."

PATIENT: I'm waiting.

SHRINK: The word is "Word."

PATIENT: You just said that. I don't have all day.


PATIENT: I'm not deaf. Just give me the word and we can get started.

SHRINK: You're impossible!

PATIENT: That's two words.

SHRINK: I've had it!

PATIENT: Three words. I thought you said it was going to be one word?


PATIENT: Back to two words. Make up your mind.




PATIENT: "Stop."


PATIENT: "Stay."


PATIENT: Which one? "Dye" as in color or "die" as in dead?

(SHRINK runs out the door screaming)

PATIENT: That's five therapists in as many weeks. Must be something in the water.