It’s Facebook’s Fault

As you can see by my long absence from this blog, my high school reunion back in October took a lot out of me. So many cougars! So much animal print!  

And how does one erase the memory of exhausting and fruitless political discussions with once-reasonable former classmates, who, like me, were brought up in working middle-class families, by parents who probably belonged to unions and were probably Kennedy-worshiping Dems back in the day. Why have they now become angry, right-wing conservatives?  (Why are they always so angry? Perhaps it’s because they got stuck with Romney as their presidential nominee.) I found this odd given our common socio-economic backgrounds. It was draining. It was mind-numbing. Or maybe that was my reaction to learning there would be a cash bar. Don’t get me started on that. But all in all, a lovely evening.

Then came the holidays, which sucked the life out of me as they usually do. But in a good way. 

But by far, the greatest contributor to my absence here has been my new-found addiction to Facebook (which will not be replacing my old addiction to wine). Yes, it’s true, I was a former detractor of Facebook. This is well-documented. I thought it was lame. And a time-waster. (It is.) But in many ways it is gratifying. I have reconnected with many old friends, and hidden from a few. I have seen happy family photos of old friends, their children, and in some cases, their grandchildren. I’m glad to know they’re doing well. I now know their musical tastes, political leanings, and hobbies. In fact, I know more about some friends than when I saw them every day. I’m not sure if this is a good thing.

Some of them post interesting articles that we all can comment on. We rate them by “Liking” or “Disliking” them with a handy little button. So efficient. Like most things these days, this Like/Dislike button feature just reinforces the knee-jerk response we computer-addicted humans have developed when faced with nuanced discourse and complex issues. No discussion! Just click! You hardly have to think at all! Darwin was right. Animals (including humans) DO adapt to the circumstances they find themselves in. Sometimes the circumstance is called Facebook.

We tease each other. We’ve seen who must always have the last word. All in all, harmless fun. No one has stolen my identity or unleashed a demonic virus into my computer. Yet. 

I realize my absence from this blog has deprived you all of reading about the usual topics: my fondness for wine, Thanksgiving, Christmas, wine-centric vacation destinations, New Year’s resolutions (spoiler:  I never keep any of them), and Weight Watchers’ continued stalking of me—because I ONCE clicked on their website for information. ONCE. 

So, to my 4.7 readers of this blog (including me)—you can thank Facebook for that.

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Things That Happened At My 35th High School Reunion…And Things That Didn’t

Here is my report on the evening—in list form, because I love lists. I love them so much that lists are actually #4 on my list of “Things I Love.” But I will leave it up to you, readers, to discern which things really did happen that night and which did not.

Do not worry. THE ANSWERS WILL BE PROVIDED. At the end. In very tiny print, as always. But you can guess True or False as you go along. You will not be graded.

1.  The reunion was canceled on account of the Rapture which occurred the day before. And no, the ticket money was not refunded, even if you were unRapturable, like me.  

2.  I attended the reunion solo this time, because at age 53, my husband has correctly assessed that I am no longer a flight risk.

3.  Animal print is the new black.

4.  At the reunion, there was a cash bar.

5.  The First Rule of Reunions happened to me, which inevitably is:  The first person who comes charging across the room to greet you is someone whom you have not thought about for 35 years… But he remembers you! And boy is he glad to see you! As he comes closer and you get a look at his name tag and high school picture, you realize it’s that shy, quiet guy that always seemed a little lonely. He looks exactly the same except for the graying hair, and an even greater air of desperation about him. But his eyes have become more intense. You small-talk a bit, eyeing the exits nervously as he tells you about his fascinating career in the postal service and the fact that he still lives in the same house he grew up in and NO HE’S NEVER BEEN MARRIED. Suddenly you really need to excuse yourself to get a drink or go to the ladies’ room and as you walk away you feel his eyes on your back and you are glad you decided not to ask for his parents because he may tell you where he buried them.

6.  There was a call for group photos at a certain point in the evening. They summoned all the football players and cheerleaders and drama club types to report to the lobby to have special group photos taken. I didn’t hear the call for all the “eyeglass-wearing, nerdy little teacher’s pets who wrote for the school newspaper and were on the bowling team” group. Maybe I just didn’t hear it. Maybe because I was too busy reciting the prologue to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in perfect Middle English pronunciation. Oh god.

7.  Someone tried to give me her high school ring that night because she felt sorry when I told her that I lost mine the first week of college. It was very sweet of this person to offer, but I declined, telling her to do what I would have done if I still had my high school ring: CASH FOR GOLD!  I thanked her and told her not to waste her generosity on the likes of someone as irresponsible as me. Because what kind of lame, pathetic loser is still wearing her high school ring in college anyway? Apparently, me.

8.  I attended the reunion cold-–by which I mean—without first reviewing my classmates’ photos by looking in my yearbook before the event. I have not looked at my yearbook since 1978 or thereabouts. It lies moldering in my attic somewhere.

9.  I flirted shamelessly with an old boyfriend.

10.  I was able to cross another item off my “Bucket List:” throwing  a glass of wine in someone’s face in a haughty, elegant manner. I have always wanted to do this. Think Bette Davis in All About Eve, with the cigarette holder, heavy caked-on lipstick, huge boobs spilling out of the top of the dress (sorry for any confusion; I’m talking about Bette Davis right now). I was hoping by initiating this baptism by wine, I could spark the “bar brawl,” which happens to be item # 2 on my Bucket List.

11.  A former classmate gave me and several others silver Kennedy half-dollars with our graduation year on it and this person WAS NOT EVEN MY UNCLE.

12. At the reunion I met a girl who used to bully me in grammar school. She terrified me daily. She was very sweet and said hi to me. I said hi to her too, and then I walked away in a bit of a daze.

13. When the time came to sit down to dinner with my buffet plate, it appeared that all the seats were taken. Someone offered to let me sit on his lap. And sadly, or perhaps, mercifully, I cannot recall who it was.

14. I had a wonderful time at the reunion, and look forward to the next one!  

I always warn my readers when they read my blog: half of what I say is true, the other half is bullshit, and the third half is jokes. It is up to you to understand which of these three halves is which. I should also mention that math is not my strong suit and there is a good chance I was absent when they covered fractions.  As a matter of fact, I do not remember any kind of maths, having spent all my time in high school memorizing key passages from great works of literature for this very reason: THAT I MAY RECITE THEM DRUNKENLY AT HIGH SCHOOL REUNIONS.


This is a self-graded test. Now you have to go back and see which of the above statements are True and which are False. No looking at your neighbor’s paper.     The answers may surprise you!

Answers:

1.  False.
 
2.  True.
 
3.  True. (Rawrr!!)
 
4.  I know!! WTF?! . . . but sadly true.
 
5.  False—this time. This actually happened at the 30th reunion.
 
6.  False about the special pictures. True about the drunken recitation.
 
7.  True.
 
8.  True.
 
9.  WHAT? Absolutely NOT! Who told you that?!
 
10.  False, but I wish it were true. Especially the part about having those boobs. 
 
11. True. 
 
12. True.
 
13. True that I received this offer, and true that I do not remember who offered. It might have been the half-dollar guy. 
 
14.  Absolutely true.

What Not to Wear . . . to Your High School Reunion

1.  Anything you actually wore in high school, even if it still fits. (As if!)

2.  Maternity clothes. (I’m talking mainly to the ladies here, but guys, you should listen up, too.) Yes, it’s true, wearing clothes purchased in Target’s maternity department, when you are not indeed pregnant, certainly is comfy—or so I have been told—but there’s no need to start rumors or unduly startle anyone at your 35th high school reunion. Although it could be a terrific ice-breaker.

3.  That orange jumpsuit you were issued a few years back due to that “youthful indiscretion.” It’s not flattering because that hue is SO last year. Or SO last 5 – 20 years with time off for good behavior. Anyway, jumpsuits went out when Cher stopped wearing them.  Wait . . . she’s still wearing them? Well, they’re out. Trust me. 

4.  Anything from Old Navy. 

5.  Your prom dress. (Same goes for those bridesmaid dresses we were told would be wearable in another venue. Um, no.) Wearing your prom dress to the reunion practically guarantees you’ll be wearing the same thing as another former classmate. It’ll be prom night all over again—and you know what that means:  look, if I had a nickel for every time someone dumped a bucket of pig’s blood all over me at prom because we were wearing the same dress—I’d have a lot of nickels. It’s just so immature. Who wants to go through that spectacle again? Leave the prom dresses in the back of the closet where they belong, or risk huge dry cleaning expenses. Getting pig’s blood off satin is a bitch.

6.  Your favorite little black dress that’s, well, a little too little. There is a fine line between sexy and grotesque, and 35 years out from high school we all should know where that is.

7.  Non-matching shoes. This fad never caught on, although I tried mightily to make it seem cool that day I got dressed in the dark and came to school with one brown shoe and one black one. C’mon! Work with me here, I pleaded. But you didn’t. 

8.  Your school colors. Showing up looking like the school mascot won’t play well. Although wearing the red and gold Bruin costume will help to hide the 25 pounds you’ve packed on since high school. 

9.  Anything from Forever 21. Because, let’s face it: if you’re headed to your 35-year reunion, you’re not even close.

10.  Anything animal-print. ladies—and gents too, I suppose. Are you listening? Try to suppress the urge to unleash your inner cougar. Rawrr. 

Bloomingdale's-sutton studio exclusive womens ombre animal print cardigan and shell bloomingdales exclusives

Wish me luck. 

I will give a full report after the affair. I only hope it does not get canceled, but there is a good chance it may, because it is scheduled for October 22—which is, unfortunately, the day after the Rapture—Take Two. (Remember when Rapture One was supposed to happen on May 21? Well it didn’t. So now we take our chances that this reunion will be a non-starter. With a ticket price of $100, it better take place or I will be pissed.)

But who am I kidding? It’s the RAPTURE. I’m not going to be raptured anywhere. As a matter of fact, as I think about my fellow classmates and some of their antics in high school, I think we’ll be all right. Most of us will remain unsaved, sitting right at the bar after all the sizzle and flash is over. The only thing I worry about is the bartender. I hope he or she is a huge sinner. Because I would really hate it if the bartender got raptured up before I got a drink. And God knows, I’m gonna need one.    

Rejected by McSweeney’s

For the uninitiated, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency website is the holy grail for humor writers who crave having their work published in a public forum, without the crass formality of receiving actual payment for their work.  

Because having your piece published on McSweeney’s is payment enough, right? Any aspiring humor writer could die happy if this were to ever happen. Who needs their stinking money? Pffft!

McSweeney’s, I wish I could quit you.  

But I can’t help wondering if the McSweeney’s editor who rejected my piece about being rejected realized the delectable irony inherent in this situation.  

I’m going to go out on a limb and say: He did not.

Look, they can’t all be gems. 

Since this blog sometimes functions as a graveyard for rejected work, here’s another one for the boneyard:  

 

A LETTER TO THE EDITOR

WHO REJECTED MY STORY

FOR INCLUSION IN A STUPID BOOK ON MENOPAUSE

WHOSE TITLE I WILL NOT REVEAL

(BECAUSE WHY SHOULD I GIVE THOSE BASTARDS ANY FREE PUBLICITY?)

Or 

The Mature Way in Which I Handled

Said Rejection

 

Dear Editor Who Rejected My Story About Menopause: 

After reading your comments on my returned manuscript I can confidently state, “Wow. You are not feeling the love for my story.”  In fact, I’m pretty sure you hated it. 

Here is what gave me a hint: scrawled across the top margin, in bold red Sharpie, you wrote, and I quote, “Let’s leave this one out.” Of your book, I presume. 

I can only politely inquire: are you going through menopause?

I put it to you—if asked to submit an article on a specific topic, as I was (by you, remember?), doesn’t that arguably raise me to the level of expert on the subject?  I find this logic inescapable, no?  You have only yourself to blame, editor and co-writer of this book (let’s just call it Chicken Soup for the Ovaries, since I refuse to plug your dumb book for you), because you are the one who asked me to contribute a piece for this pathetic anthology of suffering.      

Let’s go through your comments point by point, shall we?  You explained there was a problem with the tone of my story.  That it seemed like I was “making fun” of menopause.  I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to insult menopause, but menopause is a big girl and should be able to deal.        

This book was described to me (by you) as being in the self-help category, ostensibly offering “advice,” “support,” and most importantly, according to its publisher—again, that would be you—“survival tips” to the “menopause-stricken” (quotes not mine; I have no idea where they came from). 

I, however, decided to take more of a tough-love approach to this wretched topic, madam editor, because unlike the rest of your writer-contributors, I am no menopause-coddler.

You said you wanted more of the story to come from my own “direct personal experience” which I now take to mean: describe in excruciating detail all the distressing symptoms of menopause you can think of.  The truth is, I am not yet a menopause-victim, so I cannot opine truthfully on this subject, but I will confess to being a woman, which is more than I can say for some of your other writers.   

To that point: WHO is this “Ken” person?  The one who appears to be an expert on noctural hot flashes?  (I’m only using her first name here, because I believe that’s enough to identify this author as non-female. No self-respecting woman would call herself “Ken.”)  

So to summarize: you accepted a story about menopause written by a man—from direct personal experience one assumes—and you have rejected one from a real live woman?  I have a hunch this may be ironic. 

Further criticism of my story indicated that I failed to “keep the focus on menopause,” and “distracted the reader with over-the-top descriptions of things that are not germane to the topic.”

I can only infer from this that you didn’t care for my creative use of metaphors.  Maybe you thought they were overblown, even amateurish.  Well.  I believe I can hammer out a metaphor with the best of your so-called experts.  At least as well as “Ken”—if that is her real name. 

It is my opinion that metaphors add flavor to a story, make them more savory, if you will.  Here’s another tasty metaphor for you to chew on, wherein I vividly describe the violence that was done to my story by your savage editing: 

‘It looked like someone took a giant melon-baller to this delicious story and scooped out the juicy flesh of each perfectly ripened paragraph, leaving behind only dry, random sentences that no longer bore any relationship to each other, let alone the title. 

Whereas your first revision was like minor surgery—in that the more quirky parts were removed like so many annoying seeds—alas, now the juicy pulp of my story has been surgically cut out, leaving only the flavorless, boring rind of this big watermelon.’

Now, how does that  taste? 

After digesting all this criticism, I feel it is only fair to call you out on some of your suggestions for improving my story.  Your insistence on inserting all those cloying “Survival Tips” referencing the healing powers of chocolate was just too precious.

You helpfully suggested—every third or fourth sentence or so—that chocolate alone is the panacea to all hormone-related ills.  Gahh!  I happen to know that many people are allergic to chocolate.  Advocating its unrestricted use is ill-advised.  Much potential litigation is headed your way if you persist in this.  Just because I suggested five to six glasses of wine and a fistful of Vicodins to alleviate menopausal symptoms, I’m irresponsible?  First rule of writing: know your audience. 

Finally, Editor Who Rejected My Story About Menopause—don’t come whining to me when your book falls short by a few pages and you need to pad it with an extra story or two, and in your desperation, you reconsider using my savagely butchered story.  You will beg me to rewrite it again, to reanimate this dead phoenix from the ashes of your editorial torching.

Listen, I can only give so much.  

Rewriting this story has become a touchy subject for me; it makes me feel all hot and irritable.  Just thinking about it makes me want to cry.  I don’t even want to talk about the bloating … 

God, I wish I had some chocolate. Doesn’t anybody have any fucking chocolate? 

Still ovulating, 

L. B. Soon



P.S.  Disregarding what I said earlier about you coming back begging for another story—if you find yourself really desperate for one—perhaps I could rework it a little.  Maybe something like this would be more to your liking:  A totally new concept.  How about:  “You, Yourself, and Hormones” (but you could substitute “Chocolate” for “Hormones” if you think it sells—you’re the editor.)

Let me know if any of these work for you.

Left Behind® UPDATED!

 Top Stories of the Week

Hi All!

(To assume “all” of you are here is very presumptuous of me.  Let me start again…)

Hello, fellow unfortunate sinners who have been left behind.  (Hmm…that’s catchy.)  Anyway, in case you were worried that I was among the virtuous few who were chosen for an unrequested “upgrade” to my final destination, I am here to reassure you that I was only in Aruba.  I did not plan it this way, but our trip coincided with Rapture Break (the week of May 21), so we were in the company of legions of other sinners who were also Left Behind.  (I am so trademarking this!).  We (me and the other sinners) consoled ourselves about the injustice of it all by swimming up to the pool bar—early and often—and drinking delicious, rum-infused, fruity, sometimes frozen (not easy to come by when you’re in hell) concoctions.  But our suffering was greatest mainly between the hours of 3:00 and 5:00, otherwise known as “Sinners’ Hour,” during which my fellow sufferers and I wailed and gnashed our teeth in torment, especially when we couldn’t get the bartender’s attention fast enough.

I did survive the many afflictions of Aruba:  the deliciously sinful meals, the slothful days of lounging on the beach or at the pool.  I am ashamed to say I participated in the wickedness that took place in those dens of iniquity (casinos) that are not only tolerated in Aruba, but cheerfully sanctioned by this sinners’ paradise, wherein all manner of profligate behaviors took place.  In fact, I sinned SO HARD there I won $1000 on a decadent game called “Wheel of Misfortune!”  I will burn in hell for this alone because, you can be sure, I kept that dirty money. 

I even went on a depraved booze cruise on a pirate ship, where they ply you with drinks (called “pirate’s poison”) and offer an assortment of irresponsible (but fun) activities like walking the plank or having another “pirate’s poison.”  Believe me, that ship was FULL of sinners, especially rum-soaked, oiled-up, bikini-clad 40-something women who wanted to experience the rope swing while wrapped around the bodies of those bronzed and hunky “pirates” who heroically manned this ship of the damned.  Even my once-pale skin bears the mark of my brush with this hellscape—it still glows with a flamey crispyness that surely portends skin cancer.  But at least it has stopped peeling. 

UPDATE:  So I am back from this foretaste of hell, this devil’s island known as Aruba, back in the purgatory that is my daily life.  I suppose I should use this time to reflect on my many sins and to cleanse my soul in preparation for the next phase of sinner-selection, now scheduled for October 21.  On the bright side, at least I will get another birthday in;  I will, however, miss my high school reunion which is scheduled for October 22.  Good planning, high school reunion committee!  Wait a minute, I probably WILL BE attending the reunion.  Who am I kidding?—I won’t make the cut this time either.  I wonder who will?  I guess I should prepare myself for another ego-crushing night where all the popular kids get to go to the rapture.  (Suggestion:  you can use “rapture” as a metaphor for “prom” if that works for you.  It does for me.)  I wonder if the cheerleaders will be selected for Heaven’s Squad?  Of course they will, they are always selected first.  They are cheerleaders!  They can cheer for the raptured!  Yay team!

I doubt the rapture squad wants any nerds who wrote for the school newspaper (a liberal rag by any stretch:  more damning evidence that I am not worthy of heaven) and who flaunted the limits of their meager physical prowess by participating in a weekly bowling league.  I wonder… 

Well, we’ll see.  At least at this reunion there will be open bar.  And by “open bar” I mean access to alcohol that you are paying an exhorbitant price for, but which has been included in the price of the ticket to fool you.  A further reminder that you are not in heaven.  Heaven is all-inclusive, I believe.  Hopefully, there will be a bartender who is a sinner too, so we can get some service.  Should be interesting to see who shows up.  (Or should I say, who gets Left Behind®?)  

I guess it’s pretty obvious: I am still enraptured by the rapture.  Stay tuned for Rapture 2.0, coming soon, this October!

Reasons I Still Haven’t Joined Facebook

In case you cared, here they are:

Afraid that I will not be able to come up with interesting status updates like:  “Eating a sandwich now.”  Or  “Not eating a sandwich.  Maybe tomorrow.”  Or  “We are out of pickles, which would have gone well with a sandwich.”

Not able to find a flattering photo of me to use as a profile pic.

Afraid of who may find me on Facebook.  (No, I mean really afraid.)

Worried that only old people use Facebook now, because that’s what happened to blogs and Twitter.

I understand Facebook could become something of a “time-waster.” 

Family photos posted to FB will show how hideous-looking my kids are compared to everyone else’s gorgeous, perfect, photogenic children.  Yet all they seem to do is take pictures of themselves.

I don’t like being “Poked.”

I’m afraid my kids won’t “Friend” me.

Afraid my kids WILL “Friend” me.

Can’t lie about what I am doing on a Saturday night if I “check in” somewhere without really thinking about it.

Russia could infiltrate and surreptitiously influence our future elections, thereby causing democracy to die, plunging our country and others around the world to descend into totalitarian control.

I know, ridiculous, right?

And the number 1 reason not to go on Facebook:

Some people think it has become “too political.”

Well LOL! (as the kids say–although they will deny EVER saying that).

I have news for you: these days merely drawing breath has become political.

So what should I do?

(NOTE: This was my dilemma in 2012. I guess you know how it all worked out for me regarding Facebook. Good thing none of these predictions came true.)

Terrible Twos

The blog is TWO!

Two years ago I decided that maybe I would toss my hat—or more accurately, my words—into the blogosphere and start blogging (otherwise known as typing futilely into the void).  Promptly after that, blogs went out of fashion and now it’s all Twitter this and Tumblr that.  I’ve seen many smart, funny writers abandon their helpless offspring (by which I mean their blogs) for the speed and instant gratification of Twitter, which I think is kind of sad.  I really enjoyed some of those writers’ blogs.  But I also realize it’s so much easier to tweet than blog—especially for someone as lazy as me—but what the hell, this blog is already set up and I am slow to embrace new technologies.  And successful tweeting is an art.  Like haiku poetry, in tweeting, the form restricts you to work within certain parameters (140 characters or less in Twitter, as opposed to 17 syllables, in the usual 5-7-5 arrangement demanded in haiku).  Go ahead.  Ask me about iambic pentameter and the structure of a sonnet.  I paid attention in English class.  I totally dominated quantitative meter and accentual-syllabic verse in classical poetry!

So I guess what I’m trying to say is:  how does one go about setting up a Twitter account?  Blogging is hard!  I fear it would involve buying a new phone.  A SMART phone.  My current model is, let’s just say “differently-abled”, in that it only performs one function:  it makes phone calls.  That’s it.  It’s so outdated it actually flips open and has a rotary dial; you can imagine how cumbersome it is to text on this relic!   

Anyway, this toddler is now two, and I guess what needs to be determined is, are two-year-olds cute, or terrible?  

I think we all know the answer to this.