Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pity the Pedicurist Who Must Pretty My Feet!

Dainty Digits They Aren’t

Female Feet of the Family
Ugly feet! Those would be mine. I have them, always have. At least I don’t have an alien toe like one of my girls—her second toe extends a half-inch past the rest of her toes. Unfortunately, each of my toes has alien tendencies. Always awful, age has worsened the appearance of my toes—knobby, bent, crusty, splitting nails, dry skin—each toe has succumbed to the years of schlepping me through life. I call the toe next to my “baby” toe my shy toe because it sneaks behind the third toe and stays there, gathering whatever dirt and dust doesn’t glom onto the other toes. In a few more years, it might never come out of hiding except when I wrench it out and give it a good scrub. My daughters have seen my toes, and, to their dismay, they know these nubs are hereditary. No crystal ball is needed to predict their future feet; all they have to do is gaze at mine.
I have accepted my feet in all their funkiness, but the world likely continues to be shocked when exposed to such blemishes on beauty. To put a balm on the blight of these hideous hooves, I sometimes polish my toenails. It doesn’t help, but it distracts, and about once every three years, I even step into a salon for a pedicure and foist my feeties on some unfortunate technician.

Toe separators always make me think of uppercase Es,
as in EEEK, look at my feet!
Friday was that day. A friend of my son’s attends cosmetology school and in an effort to get a bargain, I booked a pedicure. I knew all kinds of feet walked into the low-cost salon, so I figured mine might not frighten the students too much. As a plus, any student who could beautify these feet would get an automatic A. Before I left for my appointment, I scrubbed my feet until nary a dot of dirt remained on them. They weren’t less scary-looking, but they were squeaky clean.

The pedicure trade will never have enough tools to
tackle my toes.
I apologize for things that aren’t my fault, so in keeping with that proclivity, I apologized for my feet after the student (I’ll call her Tootsie) directed them toward the bubbling footbath. “Just relax,” she said. I think getting a pedicure is supposed to be enjoyable, but I spend the time fretting about my feet and feeling pity on whomever is tasked with tackling my toes.
The pedicure progressed to what is supposed to be the best part—the foot massage. Tootsie suggested I roll up my Capris so she could smooth lotion on the lower part of my legs as well as my feet. I hesitated, knowing that she’d see the horrid age spots on my legs and my cracked and dry alligator skin. When I rolled up my pants legs, however, even I was shocked. Horrors! That’s when I saw them, the seven hairs on my left calf. Yes, seven, total—on my entire leg. A ray of sunlight or strong overhead lighting sometimes catches those stragglers and makes them shine for the entire world to see. I shave those seven hairs about once every three weeks to keep up appearances, but I obviously missed them for the last seven months because each was an inch long. Of course, they weren’t in a clump but meandered about the front of my leg. (All nine hairs on my right leg must have met the razor on its last swipe across the terrain because they were invisible.)
I was mortified. Poor Tootsie was subjected to the ugliest toes on Earth, she had to smear lotion on my horrid age spots, and worse, she witnessed the weird hair effect that happened to me post-menopause. Why my legs went from having a normal amount of hair to having a total of 16 on both legs is a mystery to me. I would stop shaving completely, but those 16 look too strange when they’re an inch long. I apologized (again) to Tootsie, who took it in stride and once more suggested that I relax. No way. If I had a pair of tweezers, I would have snatched those hairs out while she massaged my feet. Instead I used my fingers to grip the ones that weren’t too slick with lotion and yanked them, resolving that henceforth whenever I tweeze my eyebrows, I’ll pluck those 16 hairs, too.
Tootsie was probably more relieved than I was when the pedicure was done—simply so she wouldn’t have to hear me apologize again. My toes sparkle and shine and don’t shock and dismay from my open-air flip-flops. As soon as I got home, though, I dashed into the bathroom, grabbed the razor and made certain all 16 hairs were shorn. Three years from now before my next pedicure, right after I scrub my feet, out come the tweezers!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Demons of Depression Foiled Again!

Demons of Depression Be Gone!

Dark chocolate wards off the demons of depression. To preserve my mental health, which takes priority over piety, I did not give up chocolate for Lent. To further dispel any fantasies of giving up chocolate, Target’s pre-Lent, post-Valentine’s Day 70 percent off sale had heart-shaped boxes chock full of Lindt truffles marked down to 79 cents. I can't let the two boxes I purchased sit for 40 days. Perhaps my discipline of buying only two boxes counts for some sort of Lenten exercise in denial.
Lent came too soon after Valentine’s Day to make chocolate a reasonable choice of what to forgo for forty days and nights—nights especially, when the aforesaid demons creep out of the crevices in which they have hidden during the light of day.
Ash Wednesday and Lent always come too soon after Valentine’s Day and too close to Easter. Every retail establishment in the United States has at least one heart-shaped, sugar-crusted marked-down box or bag of love tokens that wasn’t purchased to show the love. Shelves that only days earlier shed the scarlet banners bearing cupids stringing arrows groan under the weight of chocolate rabbits, marshmallow chicks, malted milk robin’s eggs, and jelly beans in every flavor and color, tart or sweet, licorice or jalapeno.

A port in the depression storm
Self-denial regarding chocolate is not a strong point of mine in any event, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Independence Day, March 5, August 9, September 21, October 16. No holidays (of which I am aware) occur on March 5, August 9, September21, and October 16, and that’s the point. Chocolate consumption is an equal-opportunity indulgence as far as days of the week, month, or year, holiday or not. Lent isn’t a holiday, but instead is a time of sacrifice, penitence, reflection. Under the threat of the dark demons, few of those soul-enriching exercises are possible for me. However, with truffles hidden securely from the prying paws of my progeny, where I can have access to even one, I can face the demons and consider other soulful ways to walk through the 40 days and nights days and nights of this season.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Searching for Bliss in the Barf

Often, There Is No Message in the Mess

Cat Barf Epiphanies Do Not Exist

Simple Saturday morning pleasures such as sneaking back into bed and reading more pages of a favorite book cannot be underrated. I’m now in geriatric sleeping mode and often wake long before dawn, so my book beckoned me back between the covers on a recent Saturday. Mocha coffee in hand, I slipped back into my room, anticipating nestling myself beneath my down comforter, snuggling with my book, and maybe even falling back asleep.

No epiphanies from this cat
Not so fast. Horrors! Shock and dismay! A pile of cat barf, yes cat barf, oozed atop my comforter. I whipped into cleaning mode, scooped up as much of the goop as I could with a paper towel, and as fast as my fingers would function untied the duvet cover lest the barf seep into the down beneath it. The duvet is tied to the comforter in at least ten places, and as I untied those pesky ribbons, I noted that months earlier I had tied them in knots instead of easy-to-undo bows. The comforter is king-size, and because it was a gift, it is not on par with my usual bargain-basement, thrift-shop belongings. Thus it weighs about as much as I do and it’s so large that I could roll myself up in it four times, should that nutty idea ever strike. On the positive side, maneuvering the comforter meant I got in some weight-lifting as I cleaned the cat barf.

I didn't dress like this to clean the barf, but it would have been appropriate.
I must mention that after five children, I long ago reached my cleaning-up-barf threshold. Cleaning it means looking at it, smelling it—I needn’t go on. My eldest child will be 40 this year and rather than having an immunity to barf, I’m like someone with a nasty allergy—each exposure makes me sicker and sicker. Whenever I can, I beckon someone else, anyone else, to take over this particular clean-up duty. I pay for cat-barf removal. That geriatric sleeping mode, however, means that at 5:15 a.m., nobody else is awake—except the cat. I could have called the dogs in, who are expert at cat barf removal, but that’s even more disgusting and I would rather stifle my gag reflex than bring on another.
Stifle that reflex I did as I removed the duvet cover and fetched it post-haste to the washer, where I ran hot water and added liberal amounts of detergent and bleach. Still gagging, I returned to the comforter and with a few gentle swipes cleaned the damp area so I won’t need to take on a part-time job to pay a dry cleaning bill.

Air-drying the duvet cover would have been delightful...
I tried to find some sort of life lesson, but failed. Not everything produces an epiphany to move me into and toward a self-actuated life. Cat barf happens, but I wanted to find some bliss in the mess. I decided that when the sun came up, I would take the duvet cover and the comforter outside to dry in the fresh air. Not quite an epiphany, but I experienced the anticipation of later that evening climbing back into bed, with air-dried sheets (might as well wash them, too), a clean duvet cover, and a comforter that had been among the breeze, the sun, the flowers, and birdsong (and none of that other bird stuff). The scent would permeate the room, and I would tuck myself in with my book and fall asleep to the sweetest aroma on the planet, but only after putting the darn cats outside.
Still no bliss . . . it rained.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Athletes and the Dumb Things They Say about God

More Dumb Things People—Athletes—
Say about God

“This is so wrong,” I said
after reading the recent Super Bowl claim on God.

“Divine intervention,” said David Tyree, of New York Giants and Super Bowl XLII fame. That’s why he caught the game-changing football that led the Giants to their ring-yielding victory in 2008, gnashing the hopes of the New England Patriots for yet another ring of their own. Tyree will be in Indianapolis this Sunday, no doubt hoping (praying) for another “divine intervention” to squash number 12’s (a.k.a. Tom Brady) desire for another win—another ring.
Tyree is not alone. None other than the glorious Giselle has imparted her own plea for an intervention of positive vibes and prayer for 12—her husband—and his teammates.
Divine intervention is no stranger to sports jargon. Athletes praise God when they win; when they lose, it’s because God has “other plans.”
I’ve heard this misguided jargon for years, but I’m still not numb to it. “Are you kidding me?” was my reaction when I read the “divine intervention” story. I am pretty certain that each seventh day, God rests, as He commanded us to do, never mind that whole Super Bowl Sunday thing. On that day of rest, I think God surveys the universe and sees that some of it, indeed, is good. I also think He’s aware that the rest of it is not so good—a work in need of a lot of progress.
Another thing I’m certain of is that this Sunday, God is not going to be micromanaging the Super Bowl. God’s hand is not going to manifest a nudge of the football in one direction or another so that team X catches it. God will not be sending a whisper of air to a less-than-Vinatieri kick so it sails though the goal posts.
I don’t think God is taking sides in the Giants versus Patriots contest. I’m certain God will avoid Madonna’s half-time show: He’ll be far too busy sending angels to frantic moms as they try to navigate the Madonna years with their daughters.
Super Bowl XLVI—that’s 46, I just worked out those Roman numerals—will have a winner. Super Bowl XLVI will also have a loser (even though it’s beyond me how any team that makes it to the Super Bowl can be called a loser in any context).
If any winning Giant thinks his ring is a gift from God, what would a Patriot think about God when his ring finger is as light as it ever was come Monday morning?
If any winning Patriot claims God was on his side, what would a Giant think when he sips bitter wine rather than champagne late Sunday evening—that God abandoned him?
Sports are and always have been a win-lose prospect, and that’s the way of the game—any athletic contest. Sports have countless positive aspects, and I don’t doubt that many an athlete has been led—by God—away from a life on the streets to a life beneath the bright lights. But that doesn’t mean that God ignores those still standing beneath streetlights in less-than-savory areas.
Divine intervention? I believe in it with all my heart. Too many events transpire without any explanation—a tumor disappears, a child is whisked out of harm’s way, a serendipitous moment occurs—in those times, I don’t use coincidence to describe what has happened: I use Godincidence.
My belief in divine intervention stops when a sports contest begins. God simply has too much to do to trifle with football, baseball, and soccer.
So where does God figure in the sports world? He figures in the kids who make it away from those streetlights. He figures in the discipline, the health, and stamina that athletes of all persuasions pursue. He figures in the joy we mere observers get when our team gets the ring or the medal. He figures in the pleasure of the company of friends as we share victory and in the commiseration of those same friends when we stumble away stung by defeat.
God figures when a star athlete runs a summer sports camp for disadvantaged kids in blighted areas. God figures when another athlete spends ring money on a youth center. God figures in those details, but not so much in the details of the final score.
It’s that other final score that God is most concerned with . . . how do we score in the details of our lives, what kind of game are we playing, and exactly what do we stand to lose—or win?

* * * * * 

Sunday, I will not be "praying" that my favorite team wins...
but I will be rooting for the New England Patriots.