Friday, February 14, 2014

My Funny Valentine

Here's a "Susan Says..." classic for Valentine's Day...

For Valentine’s Day this year, Seth and I decided that, as our gift to one another, we would refrain from trying to kill each other for a 24 hour period.

Don’t be shocked.This is a generous and affectionate gift after 30 years of togetherness.

Lately, we’ve become like the Pink Panther and Cato—never sure when the other will leap from behind a pile of laundry to engage in mortal combat, aging pinwheels spiraling through the house until, exhausted, one of us gives up...until next time.
Being married for a long time is both a blessing and well, another kind of blessing. I can read Seth’s mind. Literally. I’ve proven it many times. It’s as if his thoughts travel across his rapidly enlarging forehead in the same digitalized font as news travels around the tickers in Times Square.

I can also tell you exactly what he is going to say before he says it. Depending upon location, specific landmarks provoke pre-recorded comments like “Who the hell would paint their house that color”? Or, upon passing a tag sale, “Why would I want to buy someone else’s crap-- I have my own damn crap!”

While I, too, have pre-recorded comments that he anticipates, he will never read my mind.

I remain an enigma whose thought process is encased in a lead shield of mystery. This is also known as being a woman. We may be predictable on certain levels but, even after years of trying to crack the code, our thoughts remain our own. 

It occurred to me, with a enormous degree of shock, that I might annoy him as much as he annoys me. It’s true that he’s the one who falls asleep in front of the TV with his mouth open wide enough to swallow our bedroom set. But am I not the one who staggers to the kitchen in the morning to greet him with a post-sleep hairdo (a vortex whose morphing shape, he claims, I use to communicate with my home planet) so frightening that any sane man would gag and hurry towards an exit? Yet he does not…he kisses me hello and says something pleasant. The bastard.

Previous Valentine’s Days would find us scrambling to get a table at a cozy restaurant or acting surprised when a dozen roses appeared. As the years progressed, I’d had enough with the roses as well as being rushed through a meal. I think being together a long time makes you a realist—about your partner as well as yourself.

In a long-term marriage, realism is usually tempered by enough compassion and friendship to soften the edges. For example, I should probably have removed the previous comment about Seth’s forehead….
One of my favorite Valentines was received as a little girl from my mother. It may have been my first conscious Valentine, because I remember expressing surprise when I was presented with a lovely bouquet of Charms lollipops for no apparent reason.

My mother explained that, one day, there might be a special someone who would be my Valentine but until then I was hers and she was mine. I remember saying the same to my sons when they were little.

I still tell them that, not just on Valentine’s Day but until Seth is able to get the net over my head and my world, temporarily, goes black. Back then little boy kisses were offered with home made cards. Nothing could have made me happier. 
Sometimes I wonder about future generations of Valentine givers. Kids have come to expect instantaneous gratification at the click of a mouse or the flourish of a Wii wand. Will they expect that same immediacy from their relationships with humans?

Marriage is about compromise and patience--things not widely taught in tech class. The divorce rate was already high before all this began so who knows. What I do know is that it’s definitely worth the pay-off if you can hang in there.
So, what do you do with a man who is so good and kind that he robs you daily of your natural vitriol, tries diligently to diffuse your natural negativity and does not leave you because of your morning hairdo? You marry him.

Happy Valentine's Day to all with love.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Keep Calm, It's Only Snow.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to re-introduce you to an old nemesis---its name is winter.

And, like its siblings -- spring with its nascent greens and loamy whiffs, summer and it's steamy days, and autumns’ periwinkle skies and brilliant hues -- winter comes with its own set of signature moves.

One of these is snow.

Snow can be gentle, snow can be cruel. Sometimes it shares the stage with its evil cousins, sleet and freezing rain. Snow can screw with our plans, prevent us from moving freely about this earth and either elates us or causes great grumpiness depending on our ages and levels of agility but, in the end, it is just snow.

It appears, as the media has been warning us for several days now, we are expecting some any minute so, when I awoke today at 6, I flipped on the TV to see what was what.

The "meteorologists" (I'll believe it when I see the diplomas) in the studio, increased from one nincompoop to three, were in a frenzy. Both male nincompoops were in shirtsleeves and one was bent over the "weather desk" scribbling furiously on a pad ("milk, eggs, toilet paper, kitty litter, Altoids....") while the other was clawing at his scalp and ranting about colors on the weather map: dark blue for heavy snow, pinks for lighter snow, lavenders and white mean a wintry mix and pale yellow is for when teddy bears are expected to fall from the sky sometime this evening.

"And today's expected snowfall
totals will be..."
The female nincompoop seemed the happiest. I suspect this had more to do with her recently acquired breast implants than the weather. This particular nincompoop, who used to dress in admittedly nondescript attire, was wearing a skin tight knit dress stretched to bursting over her new upper frontal superstructure which threatened to interfere with the accuracy of the Doppler radar, the cameras and the mugs of coffee on the desk.

Can I come in yet?

They had their entire news team spread out across the state. There was no snow falling yet but the reporters looked cold and exhausted as they blathered gamely on -- for the thousandth time -- about the governor's ban on trucks, towns running out of salt but now using Mrs.Dash to pre-treat roadways as well as showing store shelves across the region stripped of everything from bread to Chapstick (even the weird green ones) as terrorized shoppers prepared for the apocalypse.

Please, let me go home!

Weather used to be weather. In the extreme, it was news...usually after we all woke up, pulled up the shades and noticed there was snow on the ground. 

Of course it's great that we now have advanced weather forecasting capabilities....getting a heads up on what's heading toward us saves lives in countless ways. But what's happening these days is madness: the coverage starting days before with footage of people buying shovels and gassing up their cars, the dramatic music, the special graphics, the abuse of the field reporters who, I fear, are left out overnight in news vans lest they miss the very first zig zag of the very first flake as it's released by a merciful God just to give these poor frozen bastards something to report on. It's too much.

At least for me.

There's other stuff going on in the world today. Here in the United States, I'm sure Joe Biden is saying something idiotic, dancing was banned at a recent state dinner so as not to embarrass the French president because he had no dance partner while, back at home, he was not embarrassed at all by a scandal regarding his mistress and his girlfriend, and Jennifer Aniston just turned 45.
"As long as the snow's not gay,
it's fine with me!"

On the Olympic front, snow boarders are wallowing in a melting half pipe, Vladimir Putin is wearing a new mock turtleneck and looking inscrutable as he claps soundlessly from the stands in Sochi, and American lugers are posting videos of themselves on Twitter twerking with their medals.*

And, oh yes, there's war, pestilence, and poverty happening, too.

Well, the snow has begun. I have no plans to turn on the TV. I do not wish to see my weather team having coronaries or strokes from excitement. Instead, I'll glance out the window now and then to see how much we're getting, abstain from driving on slick roads because I prefer not to be involved in an accident as well as -- in my own small way -- make it easier for emergency personnel and, in general, use something called common sense.*

Happy snow day, dear friends

*Totally true.
**Such as it is.

America's favorite salt substitute! If it's good on steamed veggies, why not
try it on the roads.

Monday, February 3, 2014

As I See it: Super Bowl 48....

As I have written in the past, I watch football for the human drama of it all, not the game. 

I long not to be in the stadium, ungainly and apologetic as I press against dozens of pairs of knees to fetch a snack or visit the ladies room. What I enjoy is witnessing, up close and in high def, the pressure, the stress, the pain, the relief, the excitement, the jubilation of the players as they leap, pirouette, celebrate and mourn. 

Back then....
I am famous for not understanding the slightest thing about the game (ex."Seth, why do they keep throwing a rag on the field?) but it hasn't detracted from my enjoyment.

Last night, however, for the first time, I got somewhat of a feel for the actual play and was so startled by this that I had a bit of an existential crisis: Who was I, really and what in the name of Joe Willy and that crazy fur coat is it all about?
Today....on Peta's Most Wanted

After wondering whether my girl, Queen Latifah, was lip-synching ( I think so) and enjoying the National Anthem as sung (a wee bit too slowly) by the fabulous Renee Fleming, I settled in for what I hoped would be the montage of of emotions I expected to see. Alas, other than poor Peyton Manning's disbelieving expression, there was very little. Even I, football novice, knew it was a boring game.
Was she or wasn't she?

Realistically, this could have been
the weather....
The most interesting aspect of Superbowl 48 was the pre-game hysteria of snow melters, snow clearers, snow transformers, snow transponders and snow conveyors all gassed up and ready to save the day in case of what might very well be typically extreme February weather.  Fascinating, as well, was the amazing security set up in case of typically extreme human behavior as in, God forbid, terrorism.

There were eyes in the sky, infra red everything, control rooms jammed with grim Red Bull swilling state troopers, psychics in turbans as well as policeman dressed as little girls ( I made that up)comprising the operation second only in scope to what Putin is choreographing for Sochi next week.

Even I could tell, as the Seahawks ran up the score and their coach started high-fiving everyone in sight during the first quarter, that the game was a bust for both football aficionados as well as people watchers such as myself.

The commercials were a disappointment, too.

Once Seth went to bed right after half-time -- which he would never have done during a closer game --I, too lost interest and switched to my DVRed episode of Downton Abbey but what I did catch of the multi-million dollar ads did not impress although they tried very, very hard. Too hard...I don't even remember them. 

There was something creepy about the sex lives of cattle, something about yet another stupid M&M totally oblivious to the fact that he is about to be eaten, something in another language, something about a Maserati and nature that I didn't understand and something with Ellen Degeneres that I also didn't understand. I have never not liked the Muppets but I didn't quite understand what they were up to, either.

I also kept thinking about Phillip Seymour Hoffman and, even while -- to the best of my ability -- understanding the nature of addiction and empathizing with whatever struggles pushed him toward the anesthesia of a needle, feeling really, really angry that he gave away his life when, lately, I seem to know quite a few people who wanted nothing more than  to hold on to theirs but could not, no matter how they tried.

It was a Superbowl of pretty colors...the deep orange of the Bronco's jerseys combined with the small slice of bright chartreuse of Seattle made for an eye- pleasing contrast but a good color scheme, unfortunately, isn't enough.

I switched back a few times during Downton but the body language from the Broncos just got worse and worse and the Seahawks just looked giddier and giddier. I didn't even bother checking the numbers on the upper left. I knew what was happening.

Bruno Mars was the highlight of the night for me. "Well, he's quite the entertainer," commented Seth and I agree but, as always, was distracted by his baby soft skin and his skyscraper of a pompadour. Youtube has unsuccessfully  tried to teach me how to achieve height by moussing my roots. I wonder what videos he's been watching because that hair is awe-inspiring.

So was he...I had no idea he could play the drums like that and he looked like he was having fun instead of appearing to be in a homicidal rage as did Beyonce and her inner thigh muscles last year.
Mommy, I'm scared.

Looking good, gentlemen.
I also thought Anthony Keidis, bare chested as always, in a cameo performance by the ever-great Red Hot Chili Peppers, does not have the chest of any 51 year old man I know. Keep up the good work, Anthony. I didn't even notice your insane shorts or crazy hosiery at all.

So, as Peyton sits around today, dazed and confused and, as the Seahawks fly home to a welcome from their hometown, I will finish up Downton Abbey since I fell into a snooze before the servants challenged the peerage to a game of touch football on the manicured lawn.

That night I dreamed that Bruno's pompadour climbed to the top of the Empire State Building and got shot down by fighter planes.