My primary skill in life is taking a tumble for no apparent reason. Anyone can slip going down icy hills or trip over misplaced toys on stairs, but I fall on perfectly flat ground with merely microscopic imperfections. Of course, the best falls occur surrounded by strangers; you get a skinned knee and a new story, they get a good laugh, it’s a classic win-win. So everybody won the day my face decided to get an up close and personal view of the pavement at Rockefeller Center in New York.
The secret to a spectacular pavement splat is having exactly zero core engagement. If my abs are firing, even slightly, I might do a wild interpretive dance and pull a muscle or two but I can still manage to stay upright.
I have cultivated a mushy core over the years with the assist of various couches and televisions, but just being out of shape is not enough. I find to get absolute zero core value it is essential to be tired and distracted. Exhaustion assures any dormant muscle fibers lack the will to try to fire and being distracted prevents the brain from attempting any counter measures by remaining unaware of the eminent body blow.
In the checkout line at the grocery store, I stared as a gentleman unpacked a pile of 60+ packets of jello, 4 bags of green apples, 1 packet of sage and a Luna bar while the clerk slowly changed the register tape. The amount of jello confused me. Is there a sale? Has jello salad become popular again? Does the purchaser work at a nursing home? As the clerk began scanning one packet at a time, she loudly blurted out, “what you need with all this jello?” Yes! the world wants to know. In a muffled tone the man replied sheepishly, “um, jello shots.”
Duh. Of course jello shots! What else could it be but jello shots? I felt ashamed and old for not immediately knowing the obvious. I blame the sage for the confusion. Also, the dude looked well into his 70’s so party monster was not immediately evident. I assume a party is involved and not spiking of the neighborhood kid’s treat bags.
The clerk was confused, “Jello shots, what are those?” The old man was obviously uncomfortable as people from all sides turned to hear his answer. He muttered a reply so softly, I only heard “vodka” and “Halloween party.” He looked toward me, as if he wanted me to back him up on jello shots being a thing in the Halloween party realm.
I could have his back. I have served jello shots. I even dressed as a shot one year for Halloween. I also know what those apples are for having taken a baggie of soaked apple slices to a showing of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” declaring, “what can they get me for, open apple.”
Instead, I chose not to nod in support but to continue my blank stare. The same stare I use when out in public pretending I do not recognize someone I know because I look unpresentable or just don’t feel like human interaction. I excel at this stare.
Own your truth dude! You are super old but still young enough to have a party with alcohol served in tasty slimy squares. Be proud. Don’t expect some stranger who is clearly not invited to your party to help you out if you can’t be assertive about your future debauchery.
The clerk continued to shake her head in confusion as the man hurriedly packed up his items and rushed out the door. I was left with my boring chicken and Brussels sprouts, nostalgic for parties past but hopeful that I too will need a few cases of jello packets in about 20 years and not just because it is the only thing I can digest.
At the intersection of Dupont and Lake, I push the walk button and patiently wait. Others come and we all wait, staring intently at the sign, willing it to change from the bossy red hand to the jaunty white walker indicating we are free to continue to our destination.
Another lady joins us, walks in front of the crowd and pushes the button while stepping on the tip of my exposed big toe with her thick walking shoes. I look down at her and without taking the slightest beat to let any filter be deployed say, “Soooo, I’m a moron who can’t push a button?”
She continued pushing the button as if she was a young child discovering the joys of pushing buttons for the first time with no parent around to scold them. Again and again. Over and over. “If you push it like this the light changes faster,” she proudly shares. My eyes rolled so hard I sprained the left one.
A few seconds later, as if electronically timed, the light changed. She looked up at me beaming with the joy reserved for those who can make the world bend to their wishes via excessive poking. In trying not to roll my eyes again, I sprained the right one.
“OMG! You were right,” I said in that tone I get where you need to know me well to tell if it is sarcasm or not. She skipped into the street, turning slightly suggesting, “Try it some time. It works.” I muttered, “If I do, someone punch me,” and the dude next to me let out a single, loud “HA” as we exchanged a knowing glance indicating walk sign comprehension and idiot detection.
As I continued my walk, I wondered how many more years I have before I am no longer allowed to interact with the public.
I grew up with big dogs, a German Shepard and later a Labrador Retriever, but one of my grandparents had a smaller dog, a dachshund or a wiener dog which is a bit easier to spell when I remember that “i” before “e” rule. I liked the dog okay and even tolerated its annoying habits until the day I learned it had been sent to earth by Satan just to get me in trouble.
The dog, I have blocked out its name and gender from my memory, was light reddish brown, a hair color I acquired myself once from a bottle, with the typical wiener dog characteristics of a long body, stubby legs and a long nose. I remember it being rather lean compared to some of the others of the breed I had seen. The shape of this creature fascinated me. How these 4 stubby legs managed to keep the long body off the ground, barely off the ground but still not dragging its belly on the sidewalk, perplexed me.
Kindergarten was a magical time of recess, naps on colorful personal rugs, snacks, coloring outside the lines, making new friends and more recess. I learned the most important lesson of all during recess, that boys are stupid and gross.
Even at a young age I hung out with the dudes; they always had the most fun at recess with games of ball tethering, dodging and kicking and various forms of chasing each other around the grounds. One day I was on the sideline waiting for my turn in an epic kick ball battle, leaning against the rail fence that partitioned off our playground from the parking lot, when my teammate Jimmy Lemon suddenly turned and kissed me. On the mouth! Luckily it was brief and not too slobbery. He began to walk away, turned, and proclaimed that I was now his girlfriend and headed to the plate to kick that pinkish rubber ball.
I was dumbstruck. What had just happened? I was confused but I was pretty sure whatever had happened was gross and need not be repeated. The day progressed with a dodge ball victory and no further contact with the impetuous boy.
The following is a post I made in March 2010 about my hip replacement surgery.
If you have seen Ms. Savin recently, you have probably noticed a slight limp and a reluctance to stand or walk for long periods of time. This week she announced that she was going to have a full hip replacement. Obviously, many questions arose and we asked her to sit down with us and discuss.
We met in her living room where she pointed out with pride her TV that was no longer sitting on the floor but she became annoyed when I pointed out that her Wii and USB record player were still in boxes. She agreed to the interview because she has been getting lots of questions since first coming out about her hip replacement and decided it would be easier to answer them all at once. She is already sick of hearing herself talk about hips.
Q: A hip replacement? WTF?
C: I know! Pretty crazy isn’t it?
Q: So what is the deal? Why do you need a new hip?
C: Well, I was born with a congenital hip so I have always known that this day would come. I have actually gone 15 – 20 years longer than my doctors originally expected so that is good. But now I have osteoarthritis and little cartilage left so it is time to go bionic.
C: Ok, technically ceramic but bionic sounds way cooler and has implied sound effects.
Q: Congenital hip, what is that?
C: So this internet thing is really awesome and I was able to do some research. I always told people that it was because my mother shot tequila while she was pregnant but I guess that is not true. I may have to apologize for that sometime. Turns out it is genetic which explains why a great-aunt had it too.
Q: OK, but what is it exactly?
C: It is an abnormal formation of the hip joint, the ball of the hip is all whack and doesn’t fit into the socket right. Then the ligaments aren’t quite normal either. I was lucky and it was noticed shortly after I was born so I was in a body cast as an infant to help the joint form correctly.
Q: And didn’t you have surgery again later?
C: Yes, in 4th grade. As I grew, my hip grew funny and my legs were several inches different so they broke my hip and reset it to make my legs even. Later, I had a smaller surgery to have the pins removed. I still have them if you want to see!
Q: Um, no. That is kinda gross.
C: Well, I had the best show-n-tell ever in grade school. Your loss. Wuss.
Q: Ok, back to the surgery. Why now?
C: I have really been in need of a change. I tried a new hair color but that didn’t do it so a new joint seemed like the logical next step. Actually, I am just sick of having to consider my hip in everything I do. It is so damn annoying. Timing seems to work so I decided to go for it.
Q: What is the recovery?
C: Every person is different but I expect to be in the hospital 4 days, then a recovery facility – whatever it is a nursing home – for up to 2 weeks. I should be back to work in 2 months and fully recovered in 6 months or so.
Q: I understand you will have a walker?
C: Well maybe, most likely crutches up to 6 weeks and then a cane for up to 6 weeks after that. Assuming I can find a kick-ass cane. That is one of the last things I have left to do – find a kick-ass cane.
Q: So what do people say when you tell them about having surgery?
C: I get a few standard responses:
“Congratulations” (for having a malformed hip??)
“Aren’t you excited?” (I am a lot of things, sort of excited but not exactly)
“My grandmother/father had a hip replacement” (yes, I know my hip is 90 years old)
“I hear hip replacements are easier to recover from than a knee” (yes, I hear that too but I hope to never have to compare)
“I know – insert random person here – and when they had hip surgery – insert random horror story here” (Seriously??)
Q: I do hear that there have been lots of advances in joint technology. Do you think this hip will last the rest of your life?
C: Yes, there have been lots of advances but I was kinda hoping for “Star Trek” kind of advances. (At this point, in a spectacularly geeky move, she pulls out her cell phone and waves it over her hip as if it was a medical tricorder. After an uncomfortable pause, she continued.) As far as how long my hip will last, no one knows for sure.
Q: This has to be stressful.
C: Yes, it is hard to get answers to important questions. Like, “how soon can I take a shower?” “When can I get a pedicure again?” Did you know you can’t have on any nail polish when you have surgery…annoying! Or, “where can I find a kick ass cane?” Plus, I am not used to having my life planned out so far in advance. Ask me what I am doing in May and I already know…annoying!
Q: So what are you looking forward to the most after surgery?
C: Oh, lots of things. I am excited to be able to go out without having to worry about finding a chair, no longer having people ask me if I hurt my foot, sleeping for more than 4 hours at a time, getting back the use of my brain, walking around the lake and I would really like to swear less but I doubt surgery will help there. But, the thing I am looking forward to the most is being able to sneeze with abandon. Being able to sneeze without having to brace myself will be awesome!
Q: And when is this surgery?
C: Soon. I will get back from my vacations and have about 2 weeks to get ready. And before you ask, yes I am still going to London, to Austin and California. I want to make sure this hip is fully worn out before I get a new one!
Q: Any other big plans?
C: Sadly, I have a few friends I would love to see but won’t have time. I do plan to have a going away party for my hip in March. There will be lots of breakup songs and a toast to say goodbye. I mean, my hip did the best it could for longer than anyone expected and frankly I can be kinda difficult. It deserves a proper farewell.
Q: Well thank you for your time, can’t wait to toast your hip goodbye.
C: Yeah. I get final edit approval on this right??
I have three distinct ways to flip someone off perfected through years of practice that began one afternoon in the summer before I turned 5.
“The Finger” is my most commonly used method. My middle finger extends, my thumb settles atop my index finger while my pinky and ring fingers bend out of the way. The full measure of my intent is conveyed with my mouth, from a smile for a joke to a sneer for disdain.
“The Upswing” is my most nonchalant method and begins with sweeping hand flourish bringing the middle finger upward and barely extended. It is often pared with an eye roll to emphasize I care so little this is all the effort you deserve.
The final method, “The Eagle,” is by far my favorite and takes a bit more dexterity so I prefer to flip it after my fingers have been warmed up and stretched. Here, my middle finger is completely erect while my other fingers are bent at the knuckle and my thumb is extended. This can be achieved in one smooth motion of straightening the middle finger while simultaneously sliding the other to a bent position and can be combined with “The Upswing” flourish as desired.
I call this “The Eagle” because it is not just flipping any ole bird, but a beautiful majestic bird of prey soaring above all others. I remember the first time I saw my dad perform this variation of a familiar gesture and thinking it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I was mesmerized as to how his fingers could move in such a precise and effortless way and I knew I was meant to master this movement.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I now have bifocals,
And my eye doctor is a tool.
I have been going to the same eye doctor for over a decade now. My first visit to him was due to my goopy eye infection and the fact he had a wide-open, newbie-doctor calendar and ever since I have not been able to shake him when setting appointments; it is amusing.
Dr Ted, not at all his real name, is awkward. Beyond awkward really. Every visit is like the worst first date with a smart, hot guy that you wish had a personality but doesn’t. He accidentally insults me, he talks about himself, he goes on random tangents that make no sense, he leaves the room with no explanation while I just look puzzled, furrowing my brow which just makes it more difficult to insert all the eye drops.
Many years ago, Dr Ted was commenting on how my prescription barely changes and went on a random tangent about LASIK surgery when, as he was selling me on this procedure I never asked about, he glanced at my chart and said, “ohhhh” in a rather sad voice as if he just noticed I had a terminal disease. Turns out I did, he noticed my age.
“Oh, I was going to suggest LASIK but you are getting up there in age so that would just be a waste of money; you’ll need bifocals soon.” The look on his face was so sullen, like everything was about to fall apart for me and not just my eyeballs.
“That is okay, I wasn’t interested in LASIK but good to know it would be pointless,” I replied with a shrug as my mind began to race about my inevitable demise.
I was able to turn “my rude eye doctor calling me old in a roundabout way” into a funny story to entertain the co-workers, but the horror of his face left me worried.
Flash forward a few years and I began to notice changes. The computer would get blurry as the day progressed. I started taking off my glasses when I read which luckily is hardly ever. I placed my phone next to my chin so I could look at it under my glasses. My eyeballs felt strained at times.
It was obvious it was time for bifocals, so I avoided the eye doctor for a couple years. Really, that is the smartest way to handle all such situations, ignore them until they go away or just blow up. Finally after my beloved Internet time was being reduced due to eye strain and a bit of family mockery, I headed to see Dr Ted.
There was the usual intake stuff with the nurse. Then the doc showed up, then he left, they he came back told me about his trip to Boston, then he left, then he came back and told me in great, mind-numbing detail about why old people need bifocals, I mean progressive lenses which seems to be the politically correct term now, and eventually we were in full eye exam mode.
The exam it self is always boring. I try to make out letters I can’t really see and just guess. I try to determine which view is better when they pretty much look the same. I get drops to numb my eyes, drops to dilate my pupils, and others to turn them yellow; I let him do this when I really have no idea why but it seems to serve a purpose. I rest my chin on a thick pad of blotter paper, look at the cheesy bunny sticker while the brightest light known to man shines in my dilated pupils and blinds me. I look at his ears, look down, look left, have some machine shoved into my eye and finally I am done
He explained more about these fancy schmancy lenses but I was too busy enjoying all the cool colored spots floating around to really listen. He left the room and eventually the nurse came back to let me know I was done and led me to the optician dude for all my new glasses needs.
After 5 minutes with the optician, let’s call him Analdy, I began to think that maybe Dr Ted was not so bad. Analdy was so, um, particular. I would find a pair of glasses, put them in a “maybe” pile, grab another pair and the previous pair was gone.
Turns out most glasses, according to Analdy, make me look angry…grrrr. The cool ones do not sit on my face right. Stupid face. The smaller ones would not work for my new lenses, which is good as they are going out of style and I am nothing if not stylin’!
Analdy, loves to use the royal “we” to the point of wanting to punch him. “WE” did everything together, until WE had to hurry up and get to lunch, so WE picked the one pair of glasses WE found acceptable. However, WE did not pay the bill that was all ME.
HOLY %^&^%$ BALLS PROGRESSIVE LENSES ARE EXPENSIVE!
Anadly neglected to mention just how much more these fancy schmancy lenses were going to set me back. Especially since he convinced me to get the prescription sunglasses as well since they were 50% off as a second pair and I would be losing money if I skipped them. Sigh.
When I returned to pick up my ^%$# expensive glasses with the fancy schmancy lenses, I was treated to a very detailed fitting with a tutorial on how our human heads are square until they are round in the back. Um, okay. Also, I learned that when WE want to see something WE have to point our noses at it so the fancy schmancy glasses will have the right part of the lens for the failing eyeballs. WE heard this about 8 times and WE wondered if this concept is really that difficult for us oldsters to follow.
So far the ^%$# expensive glasses with the fancy schmancy lenses seem to be working nicely. I can see my computer, TV and phone, which covers all my needs.
I only have one issue: walking. I like to look down and be very careful on where I place my feet to reduce the opportunity of landing on my butt, which is not good for us oldies with replacement parts. With the new glasses I have to point my damn nose at the ground or it is just a blur. So basically I can look like a moron, in stylin ^%$# expensive glasses with the fancy schmancy lenses or look like a moron spread eagle on my butt on a sheet of melty ice. Kind of a toss-up.
So now I have bifocals and a bionic hip. I still think about the look on Dr Ted’s face and wonder what is coming my way next and how much it will set me back to correct. Now that I can see in the mirror more clearly, I may have a clue and it rhymes with *&^%$ krinkles.
My first thought this morning was a string of creative profanity followed by some half-hearted attempt at self-motivation. This was my first day at the earlier swim time and I forgot how early feels. Ugh morning! I mean sweet! I can’t wait to swim! I didn’t even bother to look at the weather and the ridiculously butt-numbing-cold temperature for fear I would lose the little motivation to which I was clinging.
I scraped off my car both inside and out, and slowly drove on the packed ice that was once a road; every stop and start was a slip sliding tractionless adventure.
I parked and started walking to the pool taking carefully placed baby steps to ensure I remained upright. My 2-block walk was filled with positive affirmations, praising myself for actually attempting to exist in this polar vortex of hell. Convincing myself this would be the best swim ever known to womankind. This day was going to be awesome and this swim was just the beginning of the awesomeness. By the time I arrived at the building, I was oozing positivity.
I walked into the locker room feeling motivated and ready to go when I turned the corner and saw HER. Shirley, the leader of the old lady coven that ruled the pool during this hour. Ugh. I had forgotten about SHIRLEY. Gossipy, cranky, nosy, bossy, SHIRLEY.