Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Um, boy; I've been remiss! I'm copying links to latest articles. I hope you like them!

Oh, and don't forget - head over to Facebook to "like" my page, The Brunette Lucy. I'm going to be having contests soon; I'm just looking into the prizes. Each week, you get a preview of my upcoming column. Plus, you can write on my wall, tell me what you think, give me your ideas, you name it! I love to read what you think - whether you leave comments on Patch, send me emails, or post on my FB wall. 

This is my latest. Since we're going to be going on vacation soon (and now that I finally have two boobs!), it was time to go swimsuit shopping. As with most things in my life, it didn't go well. I was told that this one made women laugh out loud several times. I hope you like it!

She's Got the Bathing Suit Blues

No matter your weight, women get freaked out whenever it’s time to buy a bathing suit. I’ve always hated buying one, even when I was young and had no body issues. But, we’re getting ready to go on vacation, and the last time my current swimsuit was in style was the early 80s.

First thing I did was to thumb through women’s magazines, looking for what’s fashionable right now. I came across article after article counseling that once I had figured out my body shape, they had tips for the best bathing suit for me. I saw straight-shaped, pear-shaped, inverted triangle-shaped, and several other body types. Problem was, I couldn’t find mine – outta shape.

Armed with ideas, I headed for the mall. I chose the mall because there were several large chain stores in one place, plus lots of smaller stores. I figured I had a better shot at finding my bathing suit there than driving to every strip mall in the area.

Oh, who am I kidding? I’m lazy; the mall had the best opportunity to get this done and over with in as little time as possible. I’d be home with a suit in time to make dinner and watch "Big Brother." Off I went.
As I walked in, I quickly began to think I’d made a mistake. The corridors were filled with teenagers who looked at me as if I’d just disturbed their shrine with my old self. Too bad for them; I was there on a mission. The teens would have to share their kingdom with the likes of me.

I saw a sign that boasted 20 percent off the entire bathing suit line; but it was at Victoria’s Secret, the bastion of rail-thin models with oversized breast implants. Still, I had to take a look around. A perky, 20-something sales girl came up and asked if she could help me. I don’t know if it was my insecurity, or if I really heard her add, “Out the door.”

The merchandise confirmed what I knew; this wasn’t the place for me. Even when I was younger I don’t think I would have been comfortable wearing Victoria's Secret swimwear, which amounted to little more than dental floss with ruffles.

I went into a department store and headed toward the beachwear. I stood in the middle of swimsuit territory, reading placards that claimed to work wonders for my figure. One line claimed that my curves would be flattered and shaped thanks to tummy controlling technology; another line claimed to be swimwear with shaping secrets for the real woman’s body. It seemed as if all the lines were promising I was going to love what I saw in the mirror when I wore their magical swimsuits.

Barring a Slim Fast miracle, there wasn’t much of a chance of that happening. Still, after I read another placard promising nothing short of a mystical transformation, I was beginning to buy the hype.
I grabbed several wonder suits and headed for the dressing room, eager to see the amazing change in my body.

Unfortunately, it was occupied by several teenaged girls that didn’t look like they’d eaten so much as a raisin in the past year. They modeled bikinis that would make the ruffled dental floss look modest, each squealing things like, “Does this make me look fat?”

I slithered into a stall, hoping not to bring any attention to me and my matronly, magical shape wear. Unfortunately, I caught one of the girls eyeballing me, so I figured I’d have fun with it. I said, “I don’t know about you girls, but I’m getting really tired of people using me for my body. You know, for shade and stuff.” The girls laughed, and I proceeded into a booth and began trying to pour myself into one of the magical swimsuits.

Here’s the thing about miracle swimwear; it’s made out of something called Lycra, which is about as flexible as sheet metal. I was able to get my legs through, but the rest of the suit balled around my rear end. I grabbed handfuls of fabric, and pulled with everything I had. I finally got the chest part of the suit over my butt, but there was a way to go before I got the bra where it belonged. After double checking to be sure I’d grabbed the right size, I pulled and pulled, but it wouldn’t budge any farther.

Trying to use gravity, I lay down on the floor, put my feet up on the bench, and used my legs to lift my body while I tried tugging the suit in place. Unfortunately, the bench wasn’t screwed in as I had thought. The next thing I knew, the bench toppled over, sending piles of swimsuits, my clothes and plastic hangars raining down all over me.

Next, as if in slow motion, my purse began a bizarre barrel roll as it careened down the bench, bumped over my legs and spilled its entire contents all over my half-naked body. My wallet skidded out sending credit cards through the air, spilling open the change purse, which sprayed coins all over the small booth - with a random quarter or two pinging off the mirror.

I’m here to tell you; you don’t know true humiliation in your life until you find yourself lying half-naked on the floor of a dressing room stall with a bathing suit gathered around your rear end, covered in change, credit cards and plastic hangers; with teenaged girls banging on the door asking if you’re all right.

That was it. There was no way I was going to find some magical swimsuit that would make me look like a rail-thin Victoria's Secret model with over-sized boobs. After I cleaned up the mess I’d made, I left the store, came home and made dinner in time for "Big Brother."

My swimsuit dilemma? You know what they say; everything old is new again. Look out swimming pool; me and my 80s neon swimsuit, bedazzled cover up, leg warmers and overly teased and sprayed hair are on our way.

Yup, this one got the comments, too!

What are we talking about?

Cell phones are everywhere and it seems that everyone has them, from older adults down to 3 year olds. It’s only been 10 or 15 years since they became a universal commodity, yet it seems that none of us can live without them. Does anyone remember when a trip to the store armed with a list was all you had? No one could call and add to it; yet we lived and made do.

Yikes! When did I turn into an old lady talking about the good old days?

Of course, the kids wanted their very own cell phones. They began to show up on the top of both Christmas and birthday wish lists. Matt and I couldn’t figure out what tweens could possibly use cell phones for other than games. We had a perfectly good home phone. So, we told them that when they saved their money, we’d take them to buy whatever phone they could afford.

We’re living proof that kids are amazingly thrifty when they want something bad enough. Within a month, both girls had the newest cell phones. And what did they use them for? Games. That, and to text each other even though they were in the same house and most often, the same room. It took us a while, but we finally caught on that texting is this generation’s version of passing notes to each other, usually to complain about us.

Today, it’s as if we have to be in touch with everyone for any reason all the time. I recently overheard a woman talking to her friend about a soap opera. Well, at least I hope it was a soap opera. If not, then I am now complicit to a murder involving the head of a hospital, his third wife, her lover, a second cousin, and somebody’s step-daughter who just got out of her third stint at rehab, who may or may not be the lover’s cousin’s sister.

With half the population of people on the phone 24/7, you’d think they were doing important things like negotiating for hostages. Most times, the conversation is trivial; and it makes people in the service industry crazy.

While standing in line at a bank, a woman had several deposits, a withdrawal slip, and a bag of coins she wanted counted. In the middle of the teller’s questions, her phone rang. She answered it, and proceeded to say, “No, I’m not doing anything. What’s up?”

The teller grabbed the lady’s phone, told whomever was on it that she was actually very busy, that the woman was incredibly rude for implying that she wasn’t doing anything, and hung up on the person. Bystanders erupted into applause.

Of course, that was all in my head, but wouldn’t it have been awesome if it had really happened?

When we owned our restaurant, people would walk in the door with the phone in their ear. They’d pause, tell us what they wanted, and then it was right back to their important call. Heaven forbid, we had a question about what they’d just ordered. We’d try to get their attention, but they’d hold up their finger as if saying, “Wait a minute.”

Since no one in the family is serious about much, we’d just laugh and say stuff like, “Look, that thar’s somebody from the future with one of those new fangled communicatory deevices!” (said in a hillbilly accent). Then we’d ignore them until they got off the phone.

Increasingly, cell phones have made us a rude culture.

In line at the pharmacy, I saw a woman speaking on her cell. I thought it must be a very important conversation, as when the assistant began asking her questions about her allergies, the woman held up her pinky. Not even her forefinger, her pinky. Surely she must be on an important phone call; either that or she doesn’t concern herself with small things like providing life-saving information about possible adverse reactions to medication.

Turns out, she was having a heated conversation about where to go for dinner that night because after the day she’d had, there was no way she was going to cook. Personally, judging by the pharmacist’s face, I’d have been more worried about surviving my next dose of medicine.

The problem people may not have thought about when having one-sided discussions in public is that while they may be having a normal conversation, we’re only hearing part of it. You may be celebrating a positive test for pregnancy, but trust me, the person overhearing your conversation only hears two words – “tested positive;” and assumes the worst.

It’s amazing how quickly people can run to avoid contracting whatever it is you just tested positive for.
Then, as if the Silicone Valley Gods hadn’t had enough fun, they came up with Bluetooth. Or, as I like to call it, the harbinger of our Star Trek future.

The cruelest irony, however, has to be that while most of the population is chained to a cell phone speaking to every person they know, most businesses have gotten rid of humans answering theirs.

Beam me up, Scotty.

This is another one that got quite a few comments!

Breath, Stretch . . . Ah, forget it!

Years ago, I hurt my back. I went to the doctor and he asked me how I did it. Strangely enough, I had no clue. I just woke up and could barely get out of bed. He determined that I must have pulled a muscle and suggested that I try Yoga. I made an appointment.

I arrived at my first class and my senses were immediately assaulted by an overwhelming scent. I looked around and found the source - an incense burner. I quickly identified the smell as Patchouli.

If you’ve never smelled Patchouli, I can’t begin to describe it. It’s one of those fragrances that you either love or hate. I happen to despise it. My brother, on the other hand, can’t burn enough of it. I remember walking into his apartment once, and had to leave because I felt like I was drowning, the air was so thick. He just rolled his eyes.

After regaining my equilibrium, I looked around the room. I should have realized that this wasn’t going to end well. I was the only one wearing a girdle underneath my leotard.

Then I noticed a tall, rail-thin girl coming my way. She was like a bubbly version of Twiggy, and was all of 20 years old - if that. But she was really sweet, and she made me feel welcome. She even asked if I’d like to be in the front row. I’m sure she figured that due to my advancing years, I’d be able to see her more easily. I just thought, no, Twiggy, I don’t want the rest of the class to see my well-padded rear end in all its glory. It would be like showing the class a before and after picture and yes, I would definitely be the before.

My peppy instructor introduced herself as Sarah. This put me in mind of the makers of tender, delicious, and fattening frozen cakes. All I could think about was Sarah turning into a double layer chocolate cake made with real whipped cream and topped with decadent chocolate icing. I mentally drooled like Homer Simpson. It took all my resolve to put the vision out of my mind and not lunge at her for a nibble.

We began, and she told us to stretch our arms up in the air, a move called the “Salutation to the Sun.” I was beginning to think this wasn’t going to be nearly as difficult as I’d thought. I happily stretched my arms up in the air and covertly looked around to see if anyone was impressed by my reach. Unfortunately, all eyes were on Sarah.

Next, she told us to take a deep breath. Again, I was thinking this isn’t going to be nearly as bad as I had feared. Just as that thought flittered through my mind, she instructed us to exhale, and slowly bend over to touch your toes. Whaatt??

The odds of that happening were about the same as turning a Bengal tiger into a vegetarian.
I looked around and saw a room full of skinny people dressed in skin-tight leotards with their noses pressed against their knees. I hunched down and kept watching the class, waiting for them to begin their ascent. I quickly mimicked doing the same. They looked at each other and said things like, “that felt great.” I began inching my way toward the door.

Another muscle-defying pose later, I yet again pretended to be doing it. Sarah, bless her heart, must have seen my distress. She said to no one in particular, although everyone in the room knew who she was talking to, that it’s OK if we can’t do the pose. She instructed us to do what we were comfortable with.
At that point, I was comfortable with identifying, and using, the exit.

What I really wanted to do was make a hasty retreat before any of my lithe classmates could stop me with peppy, encouraging words. Sadly, the stretch was over before I could get out.

Still, I managed to inch a little closer to the door.

The next stretch had us lying on the floor, with our hands clutching our ankles behind us. I should amend that, the others were clutching their ankles behind themselves. I was on the floor staring at the carpet, wondering when the last time it was vacuumed and making a mental note to vacuum mine when I got home.

By the time the class was over, I’d managed to inch myself next to the door. I was almost free, when Sara/Twiggy/Task Master asked how I enjoyed the class. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, I smiled and lied that it was wonderful. Before she could engage me again, I showed athletic prowess that I didn’t know I had.

I bolted out the door with amazing speed. In my mind, I was imagining the entire class chasing after me like a herd of Yoga Zombies with me as a speeding gazelle avoiding being dinner.

I finally got home, where Matt took one look at my face and silently went back to working his crossword puzzle. Being married so long, he didn’t have to ask me anything. In fact, he didn’t bring the class up for weeks.

Fast forward to now, life once again proves that it has a sense of humor. Matt and the kids are learning Yoga, and the girls are actually very good at it. I’ve even been incorporating some of the moves into my own workout. It’s still difficult, but if you keep working at it, it’s supposed to get a little easier and I’m trying.

Besides, I do a mean “Salutation to the Sun.” I’ll get around to those other poses one day. Just as soon as I meet a vegetarian Bengal tiger.

This one got 15 comments. People really identified with other people's awful children. Click on the link to read them.

Not MY Child!

We’ve all seen them; children whose parents have the ability to tune out while their children are misbehaving.
Honestly, misbehaving is a mild word for kids running through a restaurant, knocking over chairs and bumping into tables, sending plates flying. Yet their parents keep on eating as if nothing is going on. The funny thing is, if you point out their miscreants’ behavior, you’re nasty or hate kids.

And why is it that they’re almost always out in restaurants or in movie theaters when we’re trying to have a nice evening?

Years ago, Matt and I went to a theater and the family behind us had brought all five of their manner-impaired imps. We knew it was going to be a difficult evening right off the bat. I’m guessing that the parents wanted to keep them busy, and to accomplish that goal, bought every candy bar known to human kind. The constant rustle of candy bars being opened made it difficult to hear anything going on in the movie.

Unfortunately, the theater was full, so we had little choice but to stay put.

If the goal was to keep them quiet by feeding them, it didn’t work. The kids proved that they were quite accomplished at talking with their mouths full. In record time, we knew that little Scotty needed to go number two and that his sister, Lisa, was a dummy head.

Soon, I’m guessing due to all the sugar in their little systems, their limbs began to flail unchecked. The back of my seat was being kicked with annoying regularity. Of course, when we’d turn around and ask them to please stop kicking, the parents glared at us. The mom made a lame attempt to stop it by saying something trite like “the lady wants you to knock it off,” then turned her attention back to the movie. The children, correctly, knew that she wasn’t going to do anything about it and the kicking began with renewed fervor.

Finally, Matt had had it. He unfolded his 6’2” frame from the seat, stood up and turned around. The children’s eyes turned into saucers at the sight of the large man before them. Matt rumbled that if their feet made contact with the back of our chairs just one more time, he was going to stick them in a most uncomfortable spot.

This sent the mom to the lobby to complain about the mean man who threatened her little angels. The manager came out, and when we asked if he was there to remove the loud family, the surrounding patrons erupted into applause. This annoyed the horrible family, whose much smaller husband got up and made a show of threatening to beat Matt up. At long last, the family was asked to leave.

As for us, we were given free tickets to another movie, as we had no idea what had transpired since the beginning of the show.
Oh, and what was the movie these thoughtful parents brought their young children to see? “Children of the Corn.” I’m guessing they wanted to introduce the kids to the rest of the family.

The thing is, people who have problem children rarely know it. Once, I was planning a field trip for a group. I wanted to charter a bus to visit the Baltimore Aquarium, spend time at the harbor, and come home later that evening.

However, Matt and I had gone on a bus trip before, where children were running up and down the aisles while their parents paid no attention, blissfully staring out the window. He insisted that if I wanted him to come along, we set an age limit for the bus ride.

A group of ladies and I met to discuss the upcoming trip at a grocery store cafĂ©. I dreaded breaking the news of the age limit, because one of the most ill- behaved child’s mothers was there. She remarked that it was a shame that some parents let their kids run around and do whatever they liked. She said, and I quote, “It’s those types of parents that ruin it for people like me.”

That’s when I mentioned to her that her son was in the midst of adding another wing to the fort he’d built out of soda cans while we were chatting.

The thing is, we’re all guilty to one extent or another when it comes to thinking our children are angels. To us, they always will be. No matter how many times we’ve struggled with temper tantrums and argued that the word “share” is actually a verb and not a concept to be debated, we love them and think they’re wonderful.
We’ve taken care of them, comforted them when they had a rough day at school. And when bad dreams invaded their sleep, they’d come bearing their blankies and teddy bears, wanting to sleep in mom and dad’s room. We’ve held them when they cried after a loved one or a pet passed away; trying to explain the finality of death, as we struggle to make sense of it ourselves.

Inevitably, the time comes all too quickly when they know that a thunderstorm is just that and not God and the angels engaged in a bowling tournament.

One of the hardest things for a parent to do is recognize their children’s faults. It’s perfectly natural that we can tune them out. Moms are particularly good at that. But tune them out at your own peril while you’re out with them. After all, you don’t want to be one of those people who can sit at an ice cream store while your child has locked his sister in the dairy case.

The truth of the matter is sometimes, it is your child.

Wizard of Seeds? 

I’d written a little about nasturtiums before, but only scratched the surface of my lack of skill growing them from seed. Here, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story.

Years ago, Matt and I owned and operated a restaurant. As part of that business, we catered. Meat and cheese platters were always popular, but I always thought that the mounds of parsley most delis use for decorating the platters were excessive. It made me feel like grabbing a lawn mower or a pair of clippers. I went in search of other ways to dress them up and stumbled upon a humble flower called the nasturtium.

Nasturtiums are colorful annuals, whose flowers and leaves are edible. It’s actually a member of the watercress family. They have a peppery taste and the leaves are often used as greens in salad.
The problem with buying them for use in food preparation is that they’re often sprayed with pesticides. Confident that most people would bristle at the thought of having pesticide-laden produce dressing up their otherwise non-toxic food, I knew I’d have to grow them myself.

The thing is, I fell in love with the graceful little flowers and soon, they were in every hanging basket and flower box around my house. But, as with most of the flowers I fall in love with, I always wondered if they came in other, more unusual colors. And one day, an innocent spring time trip to Target for a new dress turned into a fateful turning point in my quest for unusual nasturtiums.

I’m not known for going into a store, buying what I want and leaving. It drives Matt crazy. I’m more of a grazer, wandering around admiring things that I don’t need, but find myself suddenly wanting. So, as I wandered amongst the rows of merchandise, I spotted a packet of seeds for a mixture of cream and mahogany colored nasturtiums called 'night and day.' Since I’ve had very little success growing any flower from seed, I was thrilled to see the words, 'easy to grow.' If I hadn’t been in a public place, I would have done my dance of joy.

Instead, I came home and planted a few seeds in between my petunias. And waited. I kept watch like a cat stalking birds, but no seedlings emerged. By July, I resigned myself to the fact that the unusual little flowers weren’t going to bloom.

The following year, I purchased another pack of seeds but I read the instructions on the back before planting them. The package insisted that the seeds would sprout, but to insure germination, advised me to soak them in warm water the night before planting, which I did. Again, nothing happened.

I bought another packet that counseled me to use a nail file to insure sprouting. Since nothing else had worked, I filed away and found out too late that filing them until they’re reduced to half their size kills them.
If you’ve ever heard me say that nothing is idiot proof to a sufficiently talented idiot I was talking about myself. I’ve also heard that the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Being both an idiot and crazy (or a crazed idiot), I gave it another try. I turned to the World Wide Web for help, because as you may know, that always turns out well for me (she says sarcastically).

I went on a gardening Web site, hoping to find another dummy that couldn’t grow them from seed; misery loves company. More than that, I was looking for someone who could tell me what I was doing wrong. And that’s when ‘GrannyGreenThumbFromGeorgia’ asked me a simple question – did I know the difference between a nasturtium seedling and a weed?

Turns out, I don’t.

For some reason the phrase, ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’ was ringing in my ears.
In one last attempt to grow night and day nasturtiums, I fashioned a home made greenhouse using a plastic platter with a clear lid - leftover from my catering days. I bought peat pots, filled them with special seed starting soil, watered and waited.

One morning, I awoke to one of the windiest days ever. I’m talking Kansas style, lift your house up from the foundation, carry you off and drop you in Oz type of wind. And my very lightweight greenhouse was playing the part of Dorothy. There were peat pots, dirt, seeds, and pieces of plastic flying everywhere. I ran out to try to salvage something but was quickly blinded by a hail of extra fine, specially treated dirt. I had to watch helplessly as my deck continued its homage to Kansas.

The next day, which, ironically, was windless and hot, I went about cleaning up the mess. I managed to get dirt out of the cushions, the wicker table, hurricane lamps, wind chimes, and even the pillows on the hammock. Matt came out to help, turning on the ceiling fan for a breeze. As dirt rained over us, we realized I’d missed a spot.

I’ve finally thrown in the towel. My quest for night and day nasturtiums has been abandoned. For some reason, though, my family doesn’t believe me, probably because they know me. But there’s another reason. I came across an unusual poppy that I’ve just got to grow. The downside is, you have to grow them from seed. But they, too, claim that they’re easy. Bonus, they grew wild in Kansas!

I’m off to see the Wizard – of seeds.

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The Curious Case of the Brunette Lucy

The Curious Case of the Brunette Lucy
She was pretty dumb.