Wednesday, February 29, 2012

And Finally, I'd Like to Thank Anyone at All Who Is Still Listening

First, I will pose with the utmost grace--as anyone who knows me can attest is my normal M.O.--for my interview on the Red Carpet.

"And who are you wearing tonight?" the emcee will ask. (That other Red Carpet emcee. I plan to avoid Joan Rivers at all cost because I fear her plasticized face will finally freeze for good, and I will be forced to take over my own interview. Awkward.)

Turning and twirling for the screaming onlookers, I will reply, "Tonight, I'm wearing a gorgeous gown from Tar-Jhay."

The crowd will go wild.

"Well, it's, um, certainly unique," the emcee will say.

"Yes, indeedy. It was the last one of its kind on the store rack, marked down 40 percent!"

She'll reach a tentative hand toward my flowered frock. "Is that flannel?"

"Duh. And my matching bootie slippers are from last year's Dearfoam line."

J. Lo and Angie will look on, in blatant envy. One guess what those wannabees will wish they were wearing, three hours into this far too friggin' long show.

The ushers will quickly lead me to my seat. I'm certain to be situated in the front row, so Billy can pop down easily during his opening number to razz me. With my usual class, I'll smile sweetly and appear to take his kidding in stride. As Billy heads back to the stage, my date will wrap his arm around me, whispering his diabolical plan of revenge. I will titter with laughter. Oh my darling George Clooney and his practical jokes!

I will be asked to present an award, of course. And when I do, I will smile provocatively at the audience, hiking my gown and sticking out my right leg, to show off a little pasty white skin. When the cameraman focuses in, I will promptly cover up with my chenille robe. Such a teasing vamp I am. Besides, it's February. I can't be certain when I last shaved my legs.

Finally, my name will be called as I am chosen, among all the other nearly as deserving nominees, to accept my award.

As the crowd rises in a standing ovation, I will blink away the tears from my eyes. I will pull out my notes and commence my poignant words of thanks.

"I want to thank my fans, my children, my mother, my sixth-grade teacher, the saintly folks who make Diet Coke, my dog Ringo and assorted cats, my two Facebook stalkers..."

This much I know: If that orchestra music suddenly starts playing, in an attempt to drown me out and bully me into hurrying my speech along, I will keep right on talking.

I bought a brand new flannel nightgown for this evening. I'm going to milk this damn moment for every penny of that $6.95 plus tax.

Givenchy or Garage Sale? George or Brad? And who will you thank for your award?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why I Need to Learn Italian, Presto!

Like many office commuters, I spend my daily trip to work making phone calls, reading the morning headlines, and doing my makeup. I can only imagine what more I might accomplish if I wasn't the one driving.

But in preparation for my upcoming summer trip to Italy, I am now multitasking--much to my car insurance company's relief--with my new "Listen and Learn Italian" CD.

It's terrifico.

Five minutes into my first audio lesson, I called my mother for our usual a.m. conversation.

"Good morning, mia madre!"

Long pause.

"It's Sherry. Your daughter. I'm practicing my Italian. I know, practically fluent already, huh?"

"Oh! Yes, very good. What else have you learned?"

I frowned. Perhaps "mia madre" wasn't enough. After all, how many Italian strangers could I effectively greet by addressing them as my mother?

"That's it, so far," I admitted. "Plus, I know how to say "wine" in Italian." ("Vino!" A crucial piece of terminology which I mastered, I might add, even before my first lesson.)

"Well, don't you worry," she said. "I've been to Europe several times, knowing just the bare language basics of whatever country I was visiting."

I closed my eyes, cringing and nearly sideswiping the car whose driver clearly wasn't practicing good defensive driving.

Yes, this was my fear exactly. That like mia madre, Gloria, I would know just enough of a second language to be dangerous. And that I might possibly find myself, in Italy, recreating The Unfortunate and Forever Embarrassing Elevator Incident.

A few years back, we spent a week vacationing in Arizona. The region has a high Hispanic population, and a certain percentage of our hotel staff reflected this.

My mother, my youngest son and I found ourselves on the elevator one day with a raven-haired housekeeper.

"Hola!" my mother greeted her.

The housekeeper smiled in return and then resumed proper elevator protocol by turning to face the elevator door.

My mother--never one to let a stranger remain a stranger, as much as said stranger might prefer--glanced at her name tag.

"Oh, Gloria!" My mom's eyes widened. "I'm Gloria, too!" Before the woman had a chance to respond, Mother Gloria began executing a series of excited and rudimentary hand gestures.

"You, Gloria," she said, pointing her finger at the woman's name tag, "and me, Gloria," she explained, pointing to herself.

The woman silently studied her.

Mother Gloria glanced over at her grandson and me. She frowned in frustration. The housekeeper was apparently a bit slow on the uptake, unable to comprehend even the universal language of hand gestures.

She turned back to the housekeeper and resumed gesturing. "Me, Gloria," she said while patting her chest emphatically and then repeatedly poking the woman as she chanted, "You, Gloria!"

Finally, she managed to gather every ounce of her Spanish language skills and held up two fingers. "Dos! Dos Glorias!"

Pleased with her ability to lower herself to the woman's sparse communication level, she winked and nodded at her teenage grandson. He stared, wordlessly, at the elevator floor, in the hope that it might suddenly drop and put us both out of our embarrassed misery.

The housekeeper remained stone-faced and silent until the elevator door opened. She stepped off and turned toward the hallway.

Out of the corner of her eye, she glanced back at my mother. And, with the slightest of smirks and in perfect English, she said, "Have a good day, Gloria."


So, needless to say, I've been frantically listening and learning Italian on CD all week.

I'm afraid I can't rely solely on being able to order vino or pizza. (It is "pizza" in Italian, too, right?) And even though Italians are famous for talking with their hands, I'm reluctant to rely upon communicating through my own combination of questionable language skills and hand gestures.

I have an uncanny ability to offend people, on a regular basis, in my own language. And in my desperation to be understood in another country, Lord only knows the damage I might do--even in conversation with those whom I may come to find out speak perfect English.

When I do, I'm certain I know just the hand gesture to expect in return.

I saw that same gesture, while doing my makeup today on my drive to work, from the driver of a passing car.

Any tips for traveling abroad? Do you multitask when you drive? How do you say "OMG, please just kill me now" in Italian?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Food Diary of an Almost Honest Dieter

Day One
  • Sugar-free, fat-free yogurt
  • Low-calorie English muffin--plain
  • Banana
  • Frozen low-calorie meal
  • Tossed salad with light dressing
  • Grilled chicken breast
  • Steamed broccoli with light, artificial butter spray
  • Tossed salad with light dressing
  • Apple
  • Sugar-free, fat-free pudding
Diary comments: Stomach rumbling a bit, but I remained below my calorie count for the whole day! Fully confident about this new diet! Only a few months to go before I can pull out that bikini from 1993!

Day Three
  • Sugar-free, fat-free yogurt
  • English muffin with just a smidge of peanut butter
  • Banana
  • Half a bagel from office meeting (with barely noticeable smidge of cream cheese)
  • Frozen low-cal meal
  • Tossed salad with light dressing
  • Raw veggies
  • Apple
  • More veggies (and light ranch dip)
  • Slim-Fast shake
  • Grilled salmon with lemon
  • Green beans with that fake butter crap (and just a couple pats of the good stuff, because I read that fats are an essential part of any healthy diet)
  • Tossed salad with light dressing (and a sprinkling of croutons, bacon bits, and cheese, for flavor)
  • Apple
  • Apple
  • Apple
  • Sugar-free, fat-free pudding
  • One Hershey's miniature (maybe four, can't remember, but they're really, really tiny)
  • Apple
Comments: Already lost one pound! At this rate, I shall be a goddess by summer! Have fully lost my appetite for apples though. But fortunately, I finished off all the Hershey miniatures, so I won't be tempted by those again!

Day Five
  • Sugar-free, fat-free yogurt
  • English muffin, etc., etc.
  • Banana
  • Banana
  • Peanut butter crackers from the office vending machine (feeling light-headed, and they say protein is so very important)
  • Slim-Fast shake
  • Whopper (no mayonnaise!)
  • Tossed salad with light dressing, etc.
  • Veggies and spinach dip
  • Crackers and spinach dip
  • Pretzels and spinach dip
  • Slim-Fast shake
  • Smallest grilled steak on the restaurant menu
  • Mixed vegetables (probably steamed without butter)
  • Plain baked potato (added sour cream and butter only because potato was unusually dry)
  • Tossed salad with light dressing, etc., etc.
  • Two Bloody Marys (with healthy bonus of a celery stalk in each!)
  • Sugar-free, fat-free pudding
  • A few small handfuls of Ballreich's potato chips from the shared bag on the office breakroom counter (Just a little splurge because they were Ballreich's! But I totally ignored the birthday cupcakes, thank-you-very-much.)
  • Slim-Fast shake
Comments: Was forced to eat out for two meals today, but proud of my healthy selections! Sampled just a handful of fries from my coworker's BK order. (So few that she almost didn't notice.) Added note: The dip was made with spinach. Lots of iron there. Am also guessing two Bloody Marys count as two vegetable servings. Maybe four.

Day Eight
  • Sugar-free, fat-free yogurt
  • English muffin with peanut butter and jelly
  • Half a donut (frosted without any sprinkles)
  • Slim-Fast shake
  • Frozen low-calorie meal
  • Tossed salad with light dressing
  • Veggies with dip
  • Slim-Fast shake
  • The other donut half
Dinner: (with dinner guests)
  • Roast chicken (Seemed rude to skin it. And the skin was perfectly crisp.)
  • Stuffing
  • Mashed potatoes, but no gravy (except a spoonful)
  • Green bean casserole
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Roll (homemade, so felt practically obligated)
  • Tossed salad (showed constraint by not finishing)
  • Four light beers
  • Sugar-free, fat-free pudding
  • Donut
  • Left-over cold chicken, eaten over the kitchen sink
  • Left-over cold stuffing with gravy
  • Slim-Fast shake
Comments: What masochist invented the tossed salad anyway? From now on, I'm tossing the salad! (Haha! Did you see what I did there?) Walked on the damn treadmill for an extra three minutes to make up for the stuffing. Donuts were completely the fault of my inconsiderate co-workers. Bastards. My scale says I gained back the pound I lost (plus two more), but I'm pretty sure I'm retaining water this week.

Day Eighteen
Breakfast: (blank)


Dinner: (blank)

Snacks: (blank)

Comments: Have been far too busy to journal, but certain I've been eating mostly fruits, vegetables, and a couple Slim-Fast shakes. So it's totally inconceivable that I could have gained these four pounds.

I believe my scale may need calibrating.

And if it weren't for this water retention, I'd be wearing that bikini already.

Is weight-loss just an old wives' tale? How's your diet plan going? Don't those Slim-Fast shakes make for a delicious dessert?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What We Believe When We Are Fifty

A follow-up to my last post, in which we reflected on what we believed when we were six:

Now that I'm fifty, I realize I may still know more than my young adult children, but that the gap is quickly narrowing.

I believe that no one should ever try to run away from their problems, but that a temporary escape into a great book or movie can be a life-saver.

I've concluded that each time I watch the movie Groundhog Day, I learn as much about how to live one single day as Bill Murray did, while laughing twice as much as the first (or eighth) time.

I realize my parents didn't know everything, but they weren't too far off about much.

I may be fifty, but I still believe in magic.

I've learned that pets may interfere with my independence, my housekeeping, and my sanity, but that I still wouldn't want to live without them.

After studying old photos, I now know the tight perm and oversized glasses I wore in the eighties were not, in retrospect, such a good idea after all.

I've come to accept I may never again be a size six, but that being healthier and happier are still good and achievable goals.

I realize that I've sometimes succeeded and sometimes failed, but that the two weren't always mutually exclusive.

I know that yesterday lingers and tomorrow beckons. And I believe that what's important, today, is to make the most of them both.

What have you learned, at your age?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What We Believe When We Are Six

When I was six, I believed that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy most certainly did exist, because my own parents would never lie to me.

I knew that the Wicked Witch of the West and her flying monkeys were images on my television screen, but this didn't mean they couldn't reach out and grab me.

Somehow, I was sure that Toledo and Detroit were just different names for the same city where I lived, much like my sister Denise also went by the nickname of DC.

When I was six and a first-grader in my Catholic school, I thought that being forced to wear a paper towel or a boy's baseball cap on my head--when I forgot my chapel veil for a school Mass--seemed, well, wrong. (I was right. I just didn't know the word "sacrilegious" yet.)

I was absolutely confident I could train a cat.

At the age of six, I believed the public library to be the most wonderful, magical place in the world. (I haven't changed my mind.)

I thought the words to The Lord's Prayer were as follows, "Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hell be thy name."

If I was in big trouble, and I hid between the two mattresses of my twin bed and lay there VERY STILL AND VERY QUIET FOR HOURS, I believed my parents would never find me.

I was certain that I really would have run away from home and never returned, as I stood with my pink plastic suitcase at the front door and announced this, if my mother hadn't reminded me that "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" was starting in just five minutes.

I believed that no one should ever be served liver and onions, with a side of lima beans, and not be expected to discretely spit each unchewed bite into a wadded napkin.

What truths or untruths did you know when you were six? When did you stop believing? Brussel sprouts or lima beans?