July 26, 2013


           There is no worse psychological trauma a female can endure than swimsuit shopping prior to going on a summer cruise.  After winter, we've all put on a few pounds and nothing reminds us more of that than trying on a bathing suit.  And the styles we have to choose from—and the prices!  Take it from me, it will be cheaper and you'll get more coverage if you just wear the money.
I made the mistake of slipping (after greasing my entire body with bear fat) into some of this season's newest designs, all of which are made specifically for twenty-year-olds with perfect bodies.
The first suit I managed to get into (after twenty minutes of trying...and it was MY size) immediately cut off the circulation to all my vital organs.  The dressing room attendant found me on the floor, blue and gasping.  The paramedics had to have a surgeon on the phone to talk them through getting me out of the thing!  But did I take the hint and go home?
Oh, no.  Not me.
I tried on another one.
It was called "Palm Tree," I think because if you take one look at yourself in it, you'll want to hang yourself from the nearest one.
Next was the "Chaplin" model.  If you don't feel like a little tramp in this number, then you have no shame whatsoever.
Then there were the suits with push-up bras.  I tried on one of these and it made me look like I was suffering from some sort of weird glandular condition.  I flashed back to that commercial, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" because if I ever fell over in that thing, the floor would be my home.
Conversely, there are suits that have built-in "bottom shapers."  I'd be afraid to swim in one of those for fear I'd be molested by any number of large seagoing mammals.  And the manatee look wasn't quite the image I was going for, anyway.
I finally gave up on the two-piece suits and switched to one piece.
These were no better.
The first one I tried had so many straps that went in such a multitude of directions that it would have made a better macrame plant holder than a piece of apparel.  Who designs these things?  A dominatrix with a grudge?
At last, I'd had enough.
When the clerk came to check on my progress, I reached out, grabbed her by the throat, and yanked her into my dressing room.
"Arrrrgh," she remarked pleasantly.
"OK, listen up and listen good," I growled in my best Edward G. Robinson. "I'm going to hold you hostage here until I get a bathing suit that fits me, see?  I want a suit that hugs my body, not bitch slaps it senseless, see?  I want contours, not contortion, you mug!  I WANT TO LOOK LIKE I BELONG AT A RESORT, NOT AT A CONDEMNED BUILDING!"
"Arrrrrrgh!" she replied.  I released my choke hold.
"Well, we do have suits in plus siz.....ARRRRRRGH!"
"Wrong answer!" I shrieked, renewing my grip.  "I am a size EIGHT, not eighteen!"
In the meantime, the department manager had arrived to extricate his clerk from my clutches and the dressing room—in that order.
"Ma'am?  Why don't you put down the clerk and we'll give you what you want?"  So now I had plus sizes and a manager cum hostage negotiator.  Apparently, while I wasn't looking, I had become both John Dillinger AND the Hindenburg!
Oh, yeah.  This was gonna be a good day.
After the clerk recovered enough to demand, and get, an immediate transfer to another department and the manager located a comfortable suit in my size (from a dusty box labeled, "Retro Suits--1960) I moved on to the shoe department to find a pair of nice looking sandals.
Now understand that I have rather unusual feet, so shoe shopping is not much better than bathing suit shopping.  My shoe size is 8 AAAA.  My feet are so narrow that I can pick locks and butter toast with them and they are always the headache of the day to the salesperson unlucky enough to draw my custom.
But this salesperson was the unluckiest--it was the transferred clerk from the swimsuit department.  She took one look at me advancing on her and, grabbing the two handiest shoes, formed a protective cross and held it before her.  I think she may have thrown some holy water in my general direction, too, before legging it out of there.
Oh, well, I can always go barefoot.
My shopping list, far from satisfied, included hats, lounge wear, formal wear, lingerie, and casual wear, so I made my way to the appropriate departments.
From the way the salespeople reacted, I surmised that the swimsuit clerk had paid a warning visit to each of them prior to my arrival.  They were all decidedly edgy and either pretended not to notice me or had urgent business elsewhere.  I sighed, tore my list to confetti, then moved on to a department I hadn't planned to visit.
And now, here I am, enjoying the sun and the Mediterranean-blue water, a drink within easy reach.
How did I get here?
The refund I got on my cruise ticket paid for the above ground pool I ordered from the Outdoor department on my fateful shopping trip.  I also bought a little ocean liner toy boat to float at the opposite end.  With a little imagination (and if you squint), it looks like a cruise ship anchored off shore.
If I've learned anything it's that, though a strong constitution is required to deal with sea travel, it is nothing compared to the constitution needed for the pre-cruise shopping trip!


July 19, 2013


Well, it finally happened.

Law firms have been replaced as Number One on my list of groups I deem lower than clam poop.  The group that now has the honor of my complete disdain is...may we have the envelope, please...banks!

I went into one of these banking institutions (and they call them "institutions" for a good reason--after ten minutes of dealing with these people, you'll be ready for one) yesterday to open a checking account.  I had one with a different bank, but finally got sick of having to go down there every other day because they showed my account overdrawn twelve minutes after I had made a deposit.  One wouldn't think it would be too much to hope for that bank employees would be capable of adding.  Perhaps the ones who handle checking accounts are told only to subtract, I don't know.

After the fourth time I was shown to be overdrawn when I wasn't, I had a tug-of-war with the bank manager to get him to let go of my $2000, and left to find another bank in which to put my money that would be gracious enough to allow me to spend it when I want it, if I'm willing to pay them to do it.

Yeah.  Right.  Nothing wrong with that picture...

Okay.  So I went to another bank, sat down and told the nice man what I wanted.  We filled out all the forms, then he asked me for my ID.  I handed him my driver's license.

"Don't you have anything else?" he asked.

"Hey, I got rhythm, I got music, who could ask for anything more?" I replied.

"Hmmmmmmm," he hmmmed.  "I need another form of identification."

"Why?  My photo is on my driver's license, and looks just like me...unfortunately."

"Don't you have a credit card?"


"Well, the law requires us to have two forms of identification."

Ah, yes.  I could just see our legislators slaving away late at night over a law that requires banks to ask for two forms of identification, even though a driver's license has an address, signature, and photo on it.

Come to think of it, that's exactly what our legislators would spend time on!

"Look, I want to put money in, not take it out!  I thought banks encouraged that behavior.  Now I have to prove that I haven't made a recent appearance on 'American Justice' to deposit money here?"

"We have to be sure of who you are."

"I'm sure of who I am, and I ought to know.  I've been me for quite some time now."

"I'm afraid we need a little more proof than that."

"Then grab a Ouija Board and a wine glass and you can discuss it with my pediatrician."

"I don't think so.  We need documentation," he said.

"All right. Let's examine why the photo on my driver's license is proof positive of who I am.  Do you see many other people, who look exactly like me, walking around with red birthmarks covering one half of their faces?  And canine teeth that are so long they can't close their mouths over them?  And how about the knife scar on the right cheek--did you miss that?  And the fact that I'm 6'7"tall?  How about the eye patch?  Or that I'm female and completely bald?  I really blend into a crowd, don't I?  Yeah, I could see where my identity could be in doubt."

"Do you have a passport, then?"


"Sir, if I had a passport, do you thnk I'd be living in this podunk town?"

"How about a birth certificate?"

Oh, sure.  I carry that with me all the time.  Never know when some IDIOT at a bank is going to want proof that I was born.  I restrained myself mightily.  "Sorry," I replied.

"Voter Registration Card?"

"Have you gotten a look at the candidates?"

"I see your point.  How about a Social Security Card, then?"

"No.  I am socially insecure."

I offered my fingerprints, a blood sample, a dental chart, and a fairly interesting amount of bribe money, but he would not be moved and was looking at me as if I had just returned from a grand tour of the city sewer system.

So, gentle reader, my hoard now resides within the secure confines of the First Mattress National Bank.  Give it a try.  There are no fees, it is impossible to be overdrawn, and nobody gives a damn who you are!

July 12, 2013


            I've discovered something awful about myself.
I am not a deep person.
There are puddles deeper than I am.
I had this epiphany by way of a trip of the Museum of Modern Art's annual show-and-sale in New York (MOMA [pronounced "MOE-Ma"] to those "in the know").  I was accompanied by an excruciatingly bohemian friend of mine, and was anticipating my first foray into modern art with all the excitement of a five-year-old about to meet Mickey Mouse.
Now, I have always favored Renaissance and Flemish art, and I must say that, despite my eagerness for exposure to new things, the trip was less an outing than a rude awakening.
The first room we ventured into contained a huge pink faux marble Formica slab, just leaning against the wall.
"Come on," I said to my companion.  "We'd better go to another room.  They're renovating in here."
"Oh, just look at that!"
"At what?"
"That incredible statement about isolation. Doesn't it just speak to you?"
She pointed at the pink monolith.  It was incredible all right.  I sure didn't believe it.
"That?  The only thing that says to me is that someone is getting ready to install a counter!"
My comment was met with an indignant huff.
After she had spent the requisite amount of time drinking in the beauty and profundity of this "creation," we proceeded to our left where, in a trail on the floor, were a dozen or so large, pieces of slate.  I, of course, walked on them.
"Please, Madam!" a distressed museum guard shouted, running up and grabbing me by the back of the coat.  "Don't touch the exhibit!"
"The exhibit?"
"Yes!  The exhibit!"  He pointed to the floor.  "This piece is worth $250,000!"
I gingerly stepped off the stones and made a mental note to go home and cash in my sidewalk.  My friend and tour guide was nowhere to be seen, obviously fearing for her bohemian status in SoHo, should she be caught undead, with a pleb like me.
Bemused, I wandered on alone.  The next exhibit was a glass ball on a pedestal in the center of the room.  That was it…for the whole room!  It looked like the scene of a séance suddenly abandoned.  The descriptive card read, "Universal Teardrop," an apt name considering that the price tag on this baby would have brought not one, but many teardrops to the eyes of any self-respecting universe.  Shaking my head, I moved on.
The next exhibit was called, "Black Lemons."  Certain that I would find my former Camaro on display, you can imagine my surprise upon discovering hundreds of lemons--the fruit, that is--painted black and suspended from nylon filaments attached to the ceiling.  There were screens with black lemons painted on them.  There was a giant one in the shape of a chair.  There was even one that had a television set inside it.
It was beyond my comprehension that people would pay good money to see something that I could easily duplicate in my refrigerator after three or four weeks.
But the final exhibit…the piece de resistance, if you will, was the creation called, simply, "Cans."  The room was so littered with empty soda pop cans of every description that it reminded me of the trash compactor scene in "Star Wars."
After I recovered from the assault on my aesthetics, I noticed that this display was a favorite of the homeless people in the area; most of whom were clustered around the barred windows, undoubtedly toting up what they could get for it at their local redemption center.
According to the card, this pile of litter was purported to be an artistic representation of the creation of the world.
The other people in the room--the arty-fartsy Greenwich Village crowd, loved this stuff.  Some of the comments I overheard were:
"It was a good idea…a really good idea…but it isn't conclusive, is it?"
"Not conclusive?  How can you say that?  Look at it!  Have you ever seen a more succinct explanation of the origin of the species?  It's all right there in that arrogant arrangement of the Pepsi and Mountain Dew cans!"
"Oh, don't you just adore Steinputz?  I think this is the most meaningful thing he's ever done!"
God, I felt sorry for Steinputz.
While I was standing there, a MOMA official whisked in and announced that this exhibit had just been sold for $45 million!  There was respectful, subdued applause.
I wondered if they'd deliver it in a garbage truck.
Fed up, I decided to try a little experiment.  I stood in front of a steel door with an EXIT sign above it, and just stared at it.  After a while, someone walked up to me, looked at the EXIT sign, then at me, then at the EXIT sign again.
"What are you looking at?" he asked.
"Only the clearest explanation of death I've ever seen!" I replied, never taking my eyes off the sign.
He looked again.  "Why, yes, you're right!  I can't understand how I could have missed something this fabulous!  Oh, Enid, come over here and look at this.  It's magnificent!"
In less time than it takes Andy Warhol to sneer at Andrew Wyeth, I had been joined by an army of creative cognoscenti, all babbling about this "masterpiece" before us.
I thought I had seen everything until people started bidding on it.
I heard later that the door and the EXIT sign sold for $1.5 million.
There is no doubt in my mind that somewhere P.T. Barnum is rolling on the floor, laughing himself sick.



July 5, 2013


            I had a sobering experience yesterday.
I visited a curtain store.
You’d never believe all the different types of curtains there are.  The question that kept coming to mind was:  WHY?
Hundreds of different styles, just to cover up a window?  Damn!  I don’t have a hundred different pieces of clothing!  Why should my window get this sort of special treatment?
And that’s what they’re called, by the way.  Window treatments.  It sounds like some sort of disease.  Does your window look depressed?  Suicidal?  Stall on cold days?  Well, give it a window treatment!
I wandered into this store, called (what else?) “It’s Curtains For You!”
After I lost my lunch in a nearby bush, I ventured inside.  A woman who, I’m sure, was about 112, tottered up to wait on me.
“Hello, dear,” she said to the wall.
“I’m over here,” I said.
“Oh, of course you are.  What can I do for you?”
“I need to replace a curtain in my kitchen.  The grease fire last night pretty much…”
“Oh, fine, fine,” she exclaimed.  “Right this way.”
She led me into a department called, “Kozy Kooking.”
Right after I lost my breakfast and last night’s dinner, I followed her in.
I want to tell you, I’ve never seen anything quite like it in my life.  There were 250 styles to choose from, and I’m the type to whom bacon and eggs or French toast seems like a monumental decision.
I looked around, but my superannuated guide through this diabetes-inducing fairyland had inexplicably disappeared.  I was left to my own devices.
I decided to approach my decision on a step-by-step basis.  First, I’d decide on a fabric.
Easy.  Cotton.
Okay.  Next, solid or pattern?
Pattern.  My kitchen is painted an eggshell color, so a pattern would be just the ticket to brighten it up a bit.
I looked at curtains with flowers, with fruit, with vegetables, with tiny cartoon bears, with cooking utensils, with dismembered animals (a design popular with the Goths in the area), with cats, with toilets, with trees, with aliens, with Monet’s water lilies, with Van Gogh’s sunflowers, with Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, with Edvard Munch’s Scream, with Da Vinci’s Last Supper (the idea must have come from eating at my house), with flying loaves of bread, and other things that I couldn’t begin to identify.
At last I found a nice maroon Navajo pattern that I really liked.  I decided on a pair of non-pleated curtains that would frame the window beautifully and look great against the paint.
And this only took three hours!
Then, as if by magic, the ancient crone reappeared.
“Having any luck, dear?” she asked a decorative pedestal.
“I’m over here,” I said.
“Oh, of course you are.  Have you decided, dear?”
“Yes, I think so.  I’d like the Navajo pattern, in maroon, no pleats.”
“My, what good taste you have!  That’s a marvelous choice.  Now you just wait right here while I go and get them for you.”
She wambled off.
Two hours later, she was back.
“Dear?” she asked a picture frame.
“I’m over here,” I sighed.
“Oh, of course you are.”
“Are we all set, then?”
“We’re all out of that pattern, dear.”
“It’s a very popular pattern.  We’ll be getting more any month now.  I could call you when they arrive, if you’d like.”
I sincerely doubted that she’d live that long.
At any rate, my new curtains are the talk of the neighborhood.  You don’t see curtains patterned with serial killers just anywhere, you know!