There are times when life tries to teach you a lesson.  Maybe this morning was one of those times.

 After several days of flat-on-my-back sickness, I woke up feeling almost human again. I decided to celebrate by making a full breakfast for my also-back-from-the-dead husband. Omelet, bacon, toast, coffee. Bacon perfect, eggs almost done, toast made from those little end-of-the-loaf scraps because I am trying to be frugal. Only they stuck in the toaster. And burned – just a little, honest. But you would think I had started a blazing inferno. Smoke alarms began shrieking throughout the house.

 I threw open the windows, propping them up because our house is crooked, so the windows don’t stay up. Waved a towel. Put on the kitchen fan.

 Meanwhile, the little dog, the crazy one, head-butted the screen door and bolted out to the yard, a grim look on her face that said, “Save yourselves, suckers!”

 With memories of fire trucks screaming up when something similar happened in northern Virginia (I promise I don’t burn food on a regular basis, no matter what it sounds like), I frantically called the Charleston fire department. Where I was reminded once again that this isn’t the high-paced metro area I came from.

 “Thank you for calling,” the soothing recorded voice said with maddening slowness. “Our office hours are…..if this is an emergency, call 911.”

 As I called the alarm company to cancel the fire trucks that surely would be turning the corner any minute, my husband called the emergency number – 911 – to call off the emergency.

 Surprise. The smoke alarm connected to the alarm company never went off. Apparently the screaming demons in our ceilings were not hard-wired, they were just to alert us to smoke. So, no fire crew had been dispatched.

 What had seemed an emergency – wasn’t.

 I’m pretty sure this was one of those moments intended to teach me a basic life lesson. Slow down? Stop and watch the toast? Keep perspective amid chaos? Not sure. Still trying to figure out the lesson and resist the urge to slip a little booze into that morning coffee to slow down to a Charleston pace. Now to coax the dog back inside.   



Would You Want to Know?


If you could see into the future, would you want to know? What if it’s bad news?

 A news story today reveals that researchers have come up with a blood test that can predict Alzheimer’s disease two years before symptoms start to show up. They haven’t figured out a way to prevent the disease, but this could give you a heads up while you still have all your proverbial marbles.

 My husband says he absolutely would want to know. Like the researcher interviewed in the story, he believes the advance information would help with planning. My own theory is that it will give the illusion of control: you can’t control the disease’s advance, but you can at least get your affairs in order with a known deadline.

 But I am not so sure I agree. Would I regard every name that slips from my grasp as another nail in my mental coffin? Would those moments when I can’t remember why I entered a room reduce me to tears rather than a wry writeoff as a “senior moment?”

 Most important, would knowing a grim future rob the present of joy?

 I’m not sure. Would you want to know?



You Can’t Defy Age


It started with itchy feet and hands. Then hives appeared on my arms and near my hairline.

 What could it be? Usually when I eat something I’m allergic to, the symptoms start on my stomach and work outward. This must have been something I touched. Did the dogs get into something new?

 And then I remembered: the store was out of my usual brand of body wash so I decided to try something new, something labeled, “Age-Defying.” Well, who wouldn’t want to defy age?

 And so I bought it, slathered it all over in the shower, and…itchy.

 I got to thinking about how the body wash hadn’t done what I wanted it to do, but then I started thinking bigger. I mean, really? Defy age? What does that even mean?

 We all want to at least look younger. That’s why makeup companies tell us that using their products will make us look “rested” and “glowing,” all euphemisms for youth. Apparently the key is to be plump of lip but not of hip. Once you’re past legal drinking age, having someone tell you that you look younger than your years is the ultimate compliment. And we all want to turn back the clock on our ticking mortality. That’s why we’re all so proud when we test younger than our chronology on those “real age” Internet tests.

 Much has been made lately of the messages we send our young women and the unrealistic images they are expected to idealize. Just as brutal are the endlessly chipper women who urge women to choose not to age. “I’m a victim of a slowing  metabolism? I don’t think so,” says one smug woman in an ad.

 It used to be that older women were depicted as dried up and irrelevant (“I’ve fallen and can’t get up!”). I don’t want to go back to that. But, really, can I get away from ads that make me feel inadequate if I don’t bound out of bed with the energy of my teen self? Where are the women who admit that while, sometimes they can change history, sometimes they just want a nap.

 I don’t want to defy age. I just want to broker a better deal.

 Because defying age is a great theory. But age will not be defied. Try it and you get itchy feet. Image