Ain’t Youth Grand?

It’s a humid evening in June of 2001, when I, and my friend, Jayne, join the throngs of parents taking their children to the big NSync concert at Skydome in downtown Toronto. Our teen daughters, best friends, generate enough electricity between them to power ten city blocks of concert halls.

My own enthusiasm pales in comparison since, elected to be the evening’s chauffeur, I dread the thought of battling freeway congestion after an already long day fighting deadlines at work. I also feel rather petulant at the thought of having to fork over a sinful amount of cash for a parking spot that will no doubt still be a long hike away from our final destination.

Since the plan is to deliver the girls to their gate at Skydome and then meet up with them after the concert at a pre-selected spot outside the gate, I also wonder how Jayne and I are going to kill the next four hours without having to spend a week’s pay on designer coffees (or something stronger) in exchange for an air-conditioned place to rest our laurels.

Imagine our relief when we discover that Skydome’s Windows Restaurant has been converted into a “Parents’ Lounge” for the evening, complete with loads of couches and club chairs, a large-screen television playing music videos at one end, and overhead monitors at the other end broadcasting a variety of sporting events. It’s spacious yet cozy enough to allow tired moms and dads to deflate for the next couple of hours.

The relieved facial expressions around the room tell me that I’m not the only one here who is über-grateful. To boot, there is a refreshment station set up with an unlimited flow of complimentary coffee! Suddenly, life is just one big ol’ box of chocolates (Hershey’s rather than Lindt, mind you—but plenty good enough).

The boom-boom-booming bass vibrations that pound from the stage area beside us, and the eardrum-shattering screams of thousands of teenaged girls (proof that our kids are at least getting our money’s worth) is a small price to pay for the luxury of having a relatively comfortable place of our own to inhabit.

Of course, the stage itself is obscured from our view with a number of strategically placed tarpaulins. I suppose this is only fair, since the ninety-buck admission we were forced to pay for our kids did not extend to the ones who actually toiled for it, so I suppose it’s understandable that we should be banned from goggling at the mighty NSync through a wall of warped Plexiglas.

Securing a spot at a table that overlooks the equipment area behind the stage, Jayne and I pass the time watching a parade of roadies scuttling back and forth, back and forth. I’m aware that roadies travel and work with the band, but I’m still not sure what it is that they do exactly. For four hours, we entertain ourselves watching them pace from one corner to another. And here I thought that politicians were the only ones who’d mastered the art of appearing to do something while doing a whole lot of nothing.

I am also now convinced that roadies are mass-produced from one original roadie-mould. No matter what era we’re in, roadies never, ever change. And I mean that literally.

I think that the roadies working for NSync were somehow teleported into the present day straight from a 1970s Black Sabbath/Led Zeppelin/whatever concert. They all look identical: long hair, either big and bushy or straight and stringy; stubbled chins or unkempt beards; scruffy denim jeans tight enough to emphasize the roach-clips in their pockets; sweat-stained tee shirts emblazoned with either obscenities or dumb platitudes; and frozen grins that say, “We’re cool ‘cause we’re with the band…and you’re not.”

The high point of Jayne’s and my evening arrives not a moment too soon. The tarpaulins block the front of the stage, but not the back. Our eyebrows rise at the sight of three members of NSync racing offstage and down a backstage ramp between sets! As they bound into view, roadies scatter like bowling pins and hover around the sidelines like seagulls circling a pack of French fries. The boys in the band huddle behind a stack of equipment, attempting to perform a lightning-quick costume change. I know it’s “them”— the flash and glimmer of their elaborate costumes draws our attention like lips to chocolate.

Later, Jayne and I brag to our daughters about the fact that we got to see NSync “take it all off” backstage (nah nah nah nah nah). The girls respond with “you-are-soooooo-pathetic” eye rolls, until I offer up a detailed description of the costumes we saw. There is a wide-eyed moment of silence, followed by screams. Lots of screams.

Basking in my newly acquired limelight, I proceed to boast that, although my view was somewhat obstructed, I had actually glimpsed the tighty whities of one of the four high-priced bottoms as it struggled into a very snug pair of jeans. The face hadn’t been visible, but I’d had the pleasure of observing some real-live NSync butt! This revelation elevates me to about as close as I’ll ever get to achieving celebrity status in the eyes of my daughter and her friend.

By ten-forty-five, you would be able to hear a pin drop in the lounge, if it weren’t for the continuous boom-boom-boom-screeeeeaaaaaam-boom-boom-boom-screeeeeaaaaaam. Parents from wall to wall are slumped in their chairs, limp as overcooked noodles, chins propped up on knuckles, eyes half shut. We are all beyond fatigued.

Suddenly, without warning, an explosion of sonic magnitude rocks the lounge. As my daughter later explained, “…they do the most awesome fireworks displays.” Awesome, indeed. It is quite a sight to see 300-odd exhausted men and women awaken instantly. Jayne and I come this close to experiencing the first of many teen-induced myocardial infarctions (I’ve learned a lot from watching Grey’s Anatomy). I wouldn’t have been surprised to see ambulance attendants flooding the place with gurneys.

With my heart still skipping double-double-dutch, I have quietly resumed praying for the show to “just end now, dammit,” when those nasty little NStinkers do it again. I swear my feet actually lift from the ground for a split second. The second blast is our cue to haul it out of there and begin the trek toward our designated meeting spot.

The number of parents waiting around for their children is impressive. There are hundreds. Such a sight, you would never have seen during my childhood years. Back then, if we weren’t old enough to drive to an event on our own, our “concert experience” consisted of staring at our idol in a teen magazine while listening to his latest 45.

Finally! At eleven-thirty, our rosy-cheeked, laryngitised, starry-eyed daughters race up, shrieking with excitement. Throughout the entire ride home, their ongoing description of the show comprises only those words you’ll find in a thesaurus under “awesome.” The girls thank us over and over again. Jayne and I grin at each other. For this one night, we are their heroes. We have successfully granted the wishes of two very grateful teenaged girls. And we have also received a rare and unexpected treat in return.

The evening’s adventures have taken both of us on an emotional trip of our own, back in years, back to a long-faded time when the bigger-than-life rock stars of our dreams left us overwhelmed and suffused with such giddy excitement that we, too, screamed until we could do no more than whisper.

When my weary body finally folds itself into the welcome embrace of my bed, well past the witching hour, I can’t contain my smile as I drift off.

Ain’t youth grand?

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The good and bad of being an old fart

Ah, the joys of aging! With each birthday that passes, you climb one more rung on the ladder to old-fartdom.

Some of you still have a good distance to go, some are midway along, and some of you have stopped a moment to sit down on a rung near the top because the climb is killing your back.

Regardless of your current position on the ladder, the fact of the matter is that we all start climbing the day we are born.

As someone who’s done her fair share of climbing, I’ve got some good news and some bad news to share about what you can look forward to once you’re well past the halfway mark on your ladder:

First, the bad news…

“Remember when your knees could bend
without that cracking sound?

And the frown lines on your face were there
ONLY when you frowned?

Remember when sensible shoes
were the style old grannies wore,

And you never imagined stairs
could be a mountain-climbing chore.

Remember when you’d drop your keys
and swoop to pick them up,

Without needing a hand from passersby
to help you stand back up?

Remember when you’d grease the wheels
by having another drink?

Now your grease is a tube of Voltaren
used to soothe a new neck kink.

Remember when the scent you trailed
was Chanel Number Five?

What you now save on chic perfumes
you spend on A535.

Remember when you could remember
what you’d been about to say?

When thoughts remained inside your brain
instead of drifting away?

Remember when missing “the pill”
could make your blood run cold?

Instead of nightmares filled with storks,
now it means your cholesterol’s up tenfold.

Remember when a “home” was
what you paid a mortgage on?

Now it’s where you’ll someday be dumped
by your scheming, evil spawn.”

And now, the good news…

“Remember when you used to give a crap
what other people thought?

And believed you had to practice
all the etiquette you were taught?

Remember your shocked concern
if you saw a hair turn grey?

And how you actually worried about your weight
after bingeing at a buffet?

Remember when you’d actually listen
if some young punk said you were wrong?

Now, you answer:
“Bite me, you knuckleheaded schlong!”

And all those senior discounts
couldn’t have come at a better time,

Since you’re sick of being reamed by shops
for every single dime.

Remember when you had to keep
a polished résumé?

Now who cares? You get to sleep in
every single day!

And isn’t it fitting that now the government
must pay your way?

Since they sure cleaned up when you worked full-time
by stealing half your pay.

Yep, growing old has its good days
along with some days we dread,

But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,
It’s better to be old than dead!”

Random shit that pops into my mind for no good reason while I’m doing my daily exercise walk

Every day, I go for my exercise walk outside, rain or shine. I put on my headphones, listen to great music, and walk to the beat. I’ve found that I brainstorm some of my best ideas for new projects or stories while I’m walking.

I’ve also found that some really crazy-ass, random thoughts will pop into my mind for no good reason, and I’ve started writing them down, just for fun.

Every so often, I’ll share these thoughts here because… well, why not?

A sample of the random shit that pops into my mind for no good reason while I’m doing my daily exercise walk:

“What’s it like to be dead?

I know that lots of people have died and been revived, then gushed about how beautiful death is and how sad they were to have to come back to life on earth.

But how about all the ones who didn’t come back? Is it possible that, during their journey through the tunnel, they kicked and screamed and told God to go find some other sucker? Might they have been screaming things like, “Blimey! Why didn’t I just eat that effing piece of cheesecake the other night! Like it matters up here what my ass looks like!” or
“It bloody well figures. Now I’ll never get to buy a Prada bag or Miu Miu heels! I penny pinched and plucked, and now my kid will be livin’ large—thanks to el cheapo!” or
“Shit! Did I turn off the stove this morning?”

And then again—just in case the powers that be are reading my mind right now—I take it back. I don’t really want to know the answer after all. I’d like to just forget about it and put my focus back on Diana Ross & The Supremes, OK?”

Another Year, Another Hope Dashed. That’s Right. It’s Time To Make A New Year’s Resolution.

new-years-eve-pixabayAs the New Year looms ahead, I remember that it’s almost time to choose which of my shortcomings I’ll target as my resolution to tackle in January. After all, is there any better way to punish myself for my overindulgence during the month of December?

I wonder if the Romans realized how much grief they would cause someday when, back in 153 BC they voted to declare January 1st the beginning of the New Year. Way back in 2000 BC, the early Babylonians, who had originally named March 23rd the beginning of the New Year based on the start of crop-planting season, weren’t nearly as hard on themselves as we are today. After all, their most popular New Year’s resolution was to return any farm implements that they’d borrowed from their neighbors.

We should be so lucky. Every December 31st, we modern-day folk insist on looking back with a critical eye, looking forward with an idealistic eye, and coming up with at least one way to put a damper on the month ahead. Thanks to the Internet, I discovered that we even have a top ten list of the most popular New Year’s resolutions:

  1. Spend more time with family and friends. Magazine polls show that more than 50% of us vow to appreciate our loved ones and spend more time with family and friends this year. My family and friends already take up far too much of my time. I plan to spend more quality time with myself this year.monkeys-pixabay
  1. Exercise. Anyone with half a brain knows that exercise reduces the risk of certain diseases, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure, etcetera. So why is it that most of us spend not only the month of January, but every month that follows, beating ourselves up over the fact that we can’t seem to stick to it? I already know that exercise will, once again, be at the top of my list of resolutions for 2017 since it’s been reappearing there every single year since 1986.fitness-frog-pixabay
  1. Lose Weight. According to statistics, the vast majority of us are clinically overweight, so (surprise!) weight loss is one of the most popular of all the resolutions. With this also being my resolution for the past twenty January firsts, I’ve alternated donating fat clothes and, later, skinny clothes to the Salvation Army for so many years that I know I could walk into the store at any one time and find pieces of my clothing in every size category.diet-pixabay
  1. Quit Smoking. Smoking harms nearly every organ in your body. It increases your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, impotence, infertility, lower bone density and more. It also adds wrinkles to your skin that wouldn’t otherwise be there, stains your teeth and makes you smell like a dirty firepit. Ick. Even if you’ve tried to quit before and failed, don’t despair. On average, smokers make the attempt about four times before they quit for good. Really, why would you want to risk shortening your life span with all these resolutions to look forward to every January 1st?smoking-pixabay
  1. Enjoy Life More. I know we lead hectic, stressful lifestyles these days, but do you really need to be told to do this? Come on, people! Pick up the phone and call in sick!hammock-in-the-forest
  1. Quit Drinking. If you have decided that you want to stop drinking alcohol, there’s a world of support available right in your community. In my case, I don’t imbibe enough and I’d probably be doing myself a favor by substituting a glass of red wine for every coffee I chug throughout the day.wine-pixabay
  1. Get Out of Debt. Money is the number one cause of friction between spouses. Most of us don’t need all the stuff we already have, so why buy more? With that said, try chopping up your spouse’s credit cards on January 1st (but find a good hidey hole for your own).credit-card-pixabay
  1. Learn Something New. There is so much to learn in the world around us. So get moving. Learn a language, master a hobby or a dance step. Whether you take a course or read a book, education is one of the easiest and most stimulating of all the resolutions to keep. A challenged mind is a sharp mind. (Now, where did I put my book?)knitting_pixabay
  1. Help Others. When you help others, you help yourself in a most spiritual way. Whether you mentor a child or build a house or volunteer at a hospital, volunteer organizations can always use your help.helping-hands
  1. Get Organized. Unless your entire life has somehow been electronically wired so you just have to clap to find everything in it, you probably need to organize all your nooks and crannies. Cleaning out the flotsam is empowering. Begin with a closet. And this spring, when your mate can’t find the golf clubs, simply remind him/her about Resolution number one!50s-housewife

Otis will never be The Cat in The Hat

cats in hats bookI’ve been noticing, both in the news and online, that there seems to be a growing fashion trend: tiny hats for cats. Not only are there gazillions of cat hats for sale on Etsy and at other online stores, there are tons of DIY patterns if you want to make your own hat for a cat. I even discovered a new book at my community library called Cats In Hats, by Sara Thomas. The hats in there were a riot!

Much to my best buddy Otis’s dismay, nothing makes me more gleeful than seeing pets dressed up in human clothing. Really, don’t they just look so dang blasted cute?otis in baby bonnet1

As you may have noticed in a couple of my past blog posts, I have tried to dress Otis in various accoutrements, but trying to get his cooperation is about as easy as getting Donald Trump to shut up. I swear—that cat has moves as smooth as a martial arts black belt.

So, the other day, after a hell of a scuffle, Otis was forced to humor me by wearing a lovely bonnet that I recently crocheted; then later, a cat-sized jester’s hat and collar.

otis in baby bonnet2As you can see by the expressions (or lack thereof) on his face, he was NOT amused. (I know that cats aren’t thought of as having any facial expressions, but believe me, they do if you try to dress them up!)

My poor little boy. I do hope he’ll forgive me. 🙂otis in joker costume1

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