Friday, September 30, 2016

Oldsters Avoiding Coasters

(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

The husband and I recently took our children on a trip to an amusement park, or as I like to call it, World's Best Place to Die a Violent Death.

The kids were really stoked to go. I too was excited at the prospect of blowing the better part of our savings account to stand and sweat profusely with hundreds of alarming-looking people in two-hour lines. For 40 second rides.

What fun!

I sound a little bitter, don't I? I'm not sure what happened to me. When I was young, my stomach used to leap at the thought of roller coasters. The very sight of them meant joy! Laughter! Adventure!

My stomach still leaps at the sight of coasters. But these days it's from fear! Nausea! Possible bloodshed!

I guess that's because back in the day, I, like most kids, thought I was invincible. I had no fear of death. Didn't even think about it.

Not so now. As an adult, I devote great swaths of time to thinking about death, worrying about death, and avoiding things that can cause death, such as 67-mph, 170-foot roller coasters.

Nonetheless, my husband and I recently found ourselves staring down exactly that, a giant steel contraption designed to nearly kill us. It was one of the park's newest rides, and our children, the Princess and the Hobo, had rushed to join the throngs already waiting with instructions to text  when they'd finished. I felt a little worried about the kids riding all the insane-looking attractions, but there was no changing their minds. They'd been talking about this trip for the last year. Or two.

The husband turned to me. "What do you want to go on first?"

"How about that one?" I said, indicating a fast-moving circular ride.

He shook his head. "It spins. You know I can't spin -- it makes me throw up. What about this?" he said, pointing.

My eyes followed his finger up, up, way the hell up, to a vertical attraction with a top so high in the sky I couldn't see it.

"No way am I riding something that's covered by clouds," I told him. "What about the Ferris wheel? It's tall, but I can see the top."

He shrugged, said, "OK," and we, the oldsters, joined our fellow oldsters already in line. 

Considering the fact that I've ridden Ferris wheels since approximately age four, it seemed like a safe bet to me.

But alas, no.

The view from the ground had tricked me. Once on the ride, I realized this was one deceiving-looking, pulse-racing, heart-stoppingly tall Ferris wheel. At the top, it stopped and swayed in the wind for what seemed like forever as I looked out across Lake Erie, located Canada, and mightily regretted leaving my anxiety meds in the car.

After 18 light-headed and tragically prescription-free minutes, we'd survived our spin on the oldster wheel and found ourselves back on terra firma. The kids met us at the bottom on the way to another coaster from a list they'd made and told us we were free to go on another ride.

You can imagine my excitement.

"Great," I said. "What now?"

We looked to the left -- spinning rides. We looked to the right -- sky-high rides. We looked straight ahead:  Model T cars creeping along a winding path at a cool 5 mph. Oldster central.


"Want to ride the Model Ts?" he asked.

"I guess," I said, "but I get to drive,"

We ambled over and stood in another long line with dozens more alarming-looking people. It was worth it though, because once in the car, we had a thrilling trip full of many exciting moments, such as driving past fake rocks, and going under a fake bridge.

We climbed out of our fake car, and I realized that this adventure-filled, action-packed morning  had made me hungry. And thirsty.

I turned to the husband. "Where's the old-timey saloon? I mean, it's noon. Almost. Sort of."

Stumbling around in a geezerly fashion, we finally located that staple of every amusement park, that beloved mecca for parents -- the old-West saloon. Texting ensued, and the kids joined us for lunch.

"You guys having fun?" I asked, sipping my ten-dollar, 8-ounce cup of beer.

They nodded. "Only four more roller coasters," said the Princess, "and we'll get to every one on our list!"

I groaned inwardly because, well, math. Four more coasters = four more hours. It could also equal four more beers, but I didn't feel like taking out a second mortgage on the house.

The kids wolfed down burgers as the husband and I consumed our overpriced crappy nachos and Bud Lights.

"See you guys later," said the Hobo. "We'll text when we're done."

"Sounds good," I replied, mentally adding Great spending time with ya!, even though I knew spending time with them at amusement parks = getting dragged onto roller coasters. 

Now, I could tell you that the husband and I then had some kind of inspirational epiphany wherein we decided to run after the kids in a mad-cap, Brady Bunch fashion and go on every death-defying ride with them. I could tell you that, but it would be a lie.

Epiphanies: you've come to the wrong blog.

The truth of the matter is we, the senior citizens, finished lunch, then trundled around the park avoiding coasters, eating overpriced food, and getting into whatever geezer-based activities we could find. Eventually -- and somewhat blessedly -- a major thunderstorm hit, at which time we re-grouped as a family and rushed to the car. At the same time as about 8,000 other people.

I admit it: I was glad to leave. What can I say? As a child, there was no place I'd rather go than an amusement park.

Now, I'd rather go anyplace other than an amusement park.

But you raise your kids, and you do these things.You go to places like amusement parks because you love them and it's a way to spend time together as a family. They grow so fast and you blink and before you know it, they're teenagers who really don't want to be around you anymore. 

So you come up with ways to force them to be around you.

As we sat in traffic, I looked out at the coasters lining the stormy skyline. Part of me felt guilty that we didn't ride all those crazy things with the kids. But hey -- we are not the Brady Bunch. We're the Webers. He vomits and I hyperventilate and that is who we are.

We showed up anyway.

And that's pretty much the definition of family, isn't it? Doing things half of you don't want to do.

Just to make the other half happy.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Ma'am This

(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

So there I was, just trying to buy some overpriced chicken fingers, when it happened: the horrible. The terrible. The unthinkable.

"Will that be all today, sir?"




I peeked down into my shirt. You know, just to be sure.

"Nope," I said, "not a sir."

The cashier's face had already turned bright red. "I am so sorry."

He was a new employee, judging by his shaky hands and the scowling manager behind him. Still inwardly stung, I waved off apologies  because, hey -- I know how it is. I've worn the greasy shoes of fast food myself.

"No problem," I said. "Not a big deal."

Relief washed over his face. "We'll have that up for you in a minute. Can I have your name, please?"

I turned to the drink machine. "Just call me 'Sir.'"

While waiting for my meal, I thought about the whole exchange. I'd been called many things in my day: jerk, idiot and most recently, asshole, thanks to a stranger on vacation.

Here's a fun fact: In some states, pedestrians do not have the right of way, even at marked pedestrian crosswalks. Remember this the next time you're in Hilton Head.

The more you know.

But even though I've been called those awful things and more, I've never, ever -- not once in my whole life -- been called sir.

Ma'am, now, that's another story. Much to my great dismay, I've been in solid ma'am territory for a couple of decades, at least if you believe a particular security guard I see several times a day.

"Morning, ma'am!"

"Afternoon, ma'am!"

"Have a great night, ma'am!"

Ma'am this, pal. You're on thin ice.

With every ma'am he lobs my way, I grow older, I grow angrier. First ma'am of the day? My blood pressure rises and my right eye begins to twitch. Next ma'am -- wrinkles spread, collagen breaks down. Lunchtime ma'am? Osteoporosis. After that, the effects are cumulative, spiraling out of control.

By 5 p.m., I'm a goner.

Because to me, the word "ma'am" is a derogatory gender-based term meaning "Haggard old woman who owns too many cats."  That's why I never call a female ma'am, even when I see one who has clearly gone over Ma'am Mountain. She can be a wrinkled, stooped, gray-haired granny struggling with an extra large bag of Meow Mix in the pet food aisle, and I will not call her ma'am. I will instead ask, "Can I help you with that, miss?" 

You know, after hoisting my own Meow Mix into the cart.

"Sir? Sir?" the cashier called me, grinning sheepishly and interrupting my cat food reverie.

I walked to the counter as he pushed the tray forward. "Sorry about that again," he said. "Thanks for being a good sport."

I nodded and smiled and turned away. Hey. He was giving me food -- he could call me anything he wants.

And sir beats the hell out of ma'am.

Friday, August 26, 2016

OK - You Can Go Back to School Now!

(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

OK you can go back to school now!
Oh crap - did I say that out loud?
For months, I've had no alone time,
One is company, but three's a crowd.

You guys ate your weight in Doritos,
And I tried hard to stock up on Lay's,
Plus those gross Little Debbie snack cakes,
I buy in bulk - and they're gone the next day.

There are zero cups in the cupboard,
They're spread through the rooms far and wide,
You fill them up with blue Gatorade,
Take one sip and then set them aside.

The house is a total disaster,
It looks like a big bomb went off,
But not your average explosion,
Rather, one made of shirts and flip-flops.

The PlayStation's nearly on fire,
You're on it from morning till night,
And though it's the middle of summer,
Your skin tone is Wonder-Bread White.

"There's nothing to do! I'm so bored!"
I hear it again and again,
That's funny - I see a lot that needs done,
Perhaps you need a suggestion.

I'd like to be able to relax,
Maybe sip coffee solo till nine,
And later on, if the day goes right,
I could open a nice box of wine.

Oh yes - couches, coffee and wine,
Those are three of my favorite things,
But thanks to your constant presence,
I haven't indulged since late spring.

I love you both - you're adorable,
I live my whole life for you,
It's just that you're always around here,
I'm not even alone when I poo.

So yeah. You can go back to school now,
You're cute, but you're making me crazy,
There on the couch with your phones in your hands,
Finding new ways to be lazy.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Don't Make Me Come Back From Vacation

(post copyright  2016, Dawn Weber)

Don't make me come back from vacation,
I don't want to! No, you can't force me,
To go back to life as I knew it,
All that stress, and pesky reality.

What's this thing you call an 'alarm clock?'
You have set it for 6 a.m.
It's clear that you have forgotten,
I prefer not to rise until ten.

You say I must go back to work now,
That I have to "bring home the big money,"
You're trying to make me start laughing,
But your joke isn't really that funny.

You tell me I'll need to wear pants,
Which are tight and scratchy and awful,
Who needs that kind of restriction?
Swimsuits are so much more comfortable.

And I'll have to get into a car,
Then drive for an hour in traffic,
For the past week it's only been bicycles,
Or walks on the beach in my bare feet.

At the office there'll be tasks to finish,
Things the boss-man will tell me to do,
But I much prefer doing quite nothing,
I bet that you feel that way, too.

Still, you're saying we can't drink at noon,
And we can't have a Mai Tai for lunch,
A beer even though it's a Tuesday,
Or a nice Bloody Mary for brunch.

At home we cannot buy fresh shrimp,
Or pick oranges right from the tree,
A world without citrus and shellfish?
That ain't no kind of life for me.

And there won't be any more napping
A time set aside just to snore,
But how can one get through the day,
Without sleeping from 2 until 4?

Now I realize I have a mortgage,
And bills which I really should pay,
But couldn't I live in a camper,
At that RV park right on the bay?

Please don't make me come back from vacation,
I promise you things will be just great,
If you go on ahead home without me,
I'll see you up there in a month or eight.

Friday, July 22, 2016

I'm Packing and It's Not What You Think

(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

There are certain words you don't expect to hear together.

“Mm . . . nothing like a good McDonald’s picante sauce packet!”

Those are nine of them.

They came from the cubicle next door. Thinking I'd heard things, I peeked around the wall and saw that my co-worker, Tim, was indeed sucking on a picante sauce packet left over from his breakfast burrito.

You may remember Tim from years such as 2014: my worried-yet-affable, possible zombie co-worker who regularly shouts things like “My skin’s melting off!” and “I think my brain stem just snapped!” After that, nothing he says could really alarm me.

And considering we were at work, sauce packet snacks aren't exactly surprising. The office is a veritable wasteland of sad, rejected food, a place where leftovers go to die a moldy, forgotten death in the communal fridge.

Hey. I do it, too -- I admit it. I eat a lot of questionable things in the office, and no, sadly, that isn't a euphemism for anything. The list of foods -- if you can call them foods -- I’ve consumed in my soul-killing cubicle ranks as nothing short of pathetic. Soggy salad, last week’s donuts, Halloween candy from the Bush administration -- for shit’s sake, I've eaten fruit at work. Now that’s rock bottom.

It's all because I’m a packer.

Yes, as it was in elementary school, so it is now: there are two types of people in this world -- buyers and packers. Buyers tend to have money, while packers generally don't, and I'm a packer from way back-er.

My husband, on the other hand, under the impression that we are the Rockefellers, dines out every day. He is a buyer, and for this, I give him endless grief.

“Well, well, well,” I say, perusing the day’s receipts. “I see you ate lunch out again today.”

He glares at me over his glasses. “I did. What about it?”

“Still. Wendy’s again -- and you bought a large pop,” I say. “What are we, the Kardashians?”

He rolls his eyes. “I had a burger and small fries. That’s not exactly fancy.”

I beg to differ, dear. I beg to differ.

And with the $8.99 he spends at restaurants several days a week, I could purchase any number of depressing food items. Crackers, cans of soup, clumps of grass -- you name it.

Sometimes I wish I could bring myself to buy my meals each day. But it’s been 40 years, and I am too far gone. Inside, I’m still a poor kid from greater Youngstown, and the proverbial steel mill could close at any time as I sit with my soggy peanut butter sandwich in last year’s Scooby Doo lunch box, while the rich kids stroll by with trays full of hot pizza and those amazing chocolate peanut butter bars.

Bastard buyers.

I guess I just can't see spending a mortgage payment on lunch each month when there’s perfectly good leftover green Jello in the fridge from my colonoscopy three weeks ago. I mean, yum.

Once a poor packer kid, always a poor packer kid.

Still, I think fondly of the husband’s delicious Wendy’s burger and fries now as I dine on said Jello, yogurt, and an apple, all of which taste like poverty. Misery. 


In fact, pass that packet, Tim.

I am starving. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Who Gives a Sh*t? It's Friday

(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

Alarm goes off at 6 a.m.,
You get up - 6:30,
Do you worry? No, you don't,
Who gives a shit? It's Friday.

Coffee, bathroom, brush your teeth,
Shower? If you have to,
More effort than it's probably worth,
And there will be no hairdo.

Grab some Dockers, put them back,
Pull on jeans instead,
They're lucky that you're wearing pants,
That you got out of bed.

Start the car up, back it out,
Drive on down the driveway,
Not much traffic on the road,
When you work on Friday.

You feel all alone out there,
Without jerks beside you,
Wish they were there. Wish you were home,
Or better yet - Oahu.

Slouch into your cubicle,
Look at all your email,
Depressing, so you close it out,
Proceed to paint your toenails.

Eleven a.m. is time for lunch,
Why? Because you said so,
When you work on Fridays,
That is just the way the day goes.

Slip back in at 1 p.m.,
Slide into your desk chair,
Sign onto email and IM,
As if you never left there.

Supervisor's making rounds,
Pretend to be real busy,
By shuffling papers at your desk,
And opening Word docs quickly.

Actively doing nothing,
Is an underrated skill set,
It helps to look annoyed and stressed,
While secretly surfing the internet.

The afternoon drags on and on,
Thank God for your smartphone,
Facebook, Twitter, Bejeweled Blitz,
Till you can finally go home.

Quitting time is 5 p.m.,
You leave your desk - 4:30,
Everyone's gone, even the boss,
They don't give a shit. It's Friday.

Friday, June 17, 2016

How to Get a Colonoscopy in 14 Anxiety-Ridden Steps

(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

It happens to almost everyone eventually. You're going along living your life, dreaming your dreams and merrily walking around without ever having a tube inserted in your personal regions, when all of a sudden . . .


It's time for your first colonoscopy.

Yes, despite your best efforts to avoid such a situation, chances are you will one day find your brown eye staring down the business end of a colonoscope -- a long flexible tube with a small camera -- either due to your age or the fact that you're having GI problems. Here at the Center for Too Much Information (CTMI), we've put together a handy guide for women in the latter situation, as we, um, have a woman "friend" who had this experience. Read on:

  • Suffer painful symptoms for several weeks. Dread telling any doctors about it, because you think it will lead to medical staff poking around in your coal hole, although you will soon find out you're wrong about this. Be sure to begin worrying incessantly and imagining the worst.
  • Google your symptoms on WebMD, otherwise known as www.It' Obtain lots of information, all of which basically boils down to "Could be nothing. Could be cancer." Proceed to have nervous breakdown.
  • A month later at your annual OB/GYN appointment, discuss problems with physician. Although he used to briefly examine your rear prison purse in addition to your front lady garden, he tells you insurance companies no longer allow him to open the back door until after age 50. "It's probably nothing. You'll be fine," he says, recommending fiber and water (which you already consume) and sending you on your way.
  • Two months later, head to family doctor and tell her about ongoing problems. "It's probably nothing. You'll be fine," she says, also prescribing water and fiber (which again, you already consume). She doesn't examine area either. You're finding out that oddly, no one wants to look inside your butt, even when you're paying them.
  • Symptoms continue for several more months, so you make an appointment with a specialist, who is concerned enough to prescribe a colonoscopy. You are relieved that someone will finally be looking at your balloon knot. You are horrified that someone will finally be looking at your balloon knot. And snaking a hose all the way up your Hershey Highway.
  • As colonoscopy approaches, begin dreaming of snakes -- in doctor's offices, in toilets, in your underpants. For good measure, make repeated visits to WebMD/It' and continue to scare yourself silly. Chant It's probably nothing. You'll be fine until you fall asleep.
  • On day before procedure, limit diet to such satisfying items as water, tea and lemonade. Obtain can of chicken broth. This is your lunch. Later that afternoon, open giant prescription bottle of MoviPrep, a.k.a. Colon Blow. This is your dinner.
  • Gather fully charged iPad, ten-pack of toilet paper and a change of underwear. Sprint to bathroom and strap yourself to toilet, for it will be your new home. Over the next eight hours, you will excrete digested food from as far back as the Carter administration exiting your rear at speeds approaching the sound barrier. At times you think you will be done with your terrifying mission. But lo -- you will be wrong.
  • Around midnight, attempt to sleep. Note the word "attempt" here, because thanks to the fact that you can't eat, drink, or take any of your usual fun array of sleeping pills, you will be wide awake, starving and riddled with worry. Your partner's snoring keeps you up, so you head to the couch, where your growling stomach keeps you up. Seriously contemplate eating throw pillows.
  • Arrive at hospital the next morning and check in. Thanks to anxiety and eight hours of tossing and turning, you're half asleep, yet still conscious enough to be scared, well, shit-less. (See what we did there?)
  • Allow medical staff to prep you for procedure, and smile weakly at their attempts to cheer you up with poo-related humor. You're desperately trying to forget the fact that they'll soon be doing things to you that are almost illegal in several states, so you ask for anesthesia. The nurse obliges, but you feel nothing at first and tell her, "I don't think you gave me enough. I'm-really-nervous-so-you'll-probably-need-to-inject-more-'cause-I-don't-feel-a-thing-and . . . Zzzzz."
  • Wake up groggy and half-naked with faces all around you, as if you've slept through your first orgy. The doctor says everything looks fine, and you're suddenly very happy because of the great news, not to mention the awesome anesthesia. Despite your liaison with the pooper python, you feel no pain in your ass. In fact, you feel no pain at all.
  • Head into recovery area. A nurse checks your vitals and says that you have to pass a large amount of gas before she can let you go. You cheerfully oblige her request in front of God and everybody, because you know this is the quickest route to food. Also you are still high as a kite.
  • Giggle as spouse helps you dress and ties your shoes. As you haven't eaten since dinnertime two days ago, demand that he takes you to Taco Bell at once! and post-haste! He reminds you that you've recently drank 64 ounces of MoviPrep/Colon Blow. Hmm. Taco Bell . . . Colon Blow. Even in your purple haze, you realize this is not a wise combination, so he takes you to Bob Evans, where you consume everything on the breakfast menu. And the contents of the butter dish. With a spoon.

Well, there you have it, folks, a handy guide for your first trip down the old dirt road. You can see that a colonoscopy is a pain-free way to lose a  little weight and freak way the hell out about nothing, as well as a chance to get naked, sleep and fart.

In front of total strangers.

We at the Center for Too Much Information do not advise doing what our, um, "friend" did. Between the start of the problem and and the symptoms being waved off by two doctors, it was eight months before "she" found a specialist who took her concerns seriously. Remember, some insurance companies don't even require referrals for specialists -- hers did not. And as another dear friend once said, if something isn't right, get checked. It's probably nothing. You'll be fine.

Butt (see what we did there?) . . .

. . . it's better to know for sure.