Friday, January 22, 2010

I picked up my copy of Vanity Fair today and flipped through the ads—women of various stages of dress, modeling couture, makeup, jewelry. The magazine practically shouts that you can be gorgeous, powerful, strong, anything you want—and then I turned on CNN.

Watching a few minutes of life in Afghanistan, I saw Muslim men holding guns, striding past their wives hiding under burqas, that enveloping outer garment covering their entire bodies.

Are these poor ladies forced to endure an existence with little or no self esteem or had they discovered some ancient truths that we in the West had never considered?

Maybe their cover-ups were a ploy for privacy, their own secret battle to exert their independence. By allowing men to feel superior, they get them off their backs while also dispensing with those extra hours wasted having to primp for them.

Okay, these ladies do have a dozen kids, so the men aren’t far away, but look at the time they’re saving!

They’re not running around shopping, buying makeup, applying it, getting their hair done, staring into the mirror anxious about crows’ feet, searching for those perfect silver earrings…

Instead, they spend hours chatting with friends and family. And I’m not talking cellphone minutes. They spend quality time with their children and might even find special moments alone.

Are they on to something?

What if we covered up and didn’t care what they looked like?

Would that make us better people?

My God, the changes would be enormous, instantaneous, a stab to the heart of American business, artistry, medicine... The list goes on and on.

Beauty salons would board up their doors.

Who’d need them? After you reel in a husband, who cares if your hair looks gray, kinky, layered, or teased? And don’t worry that your man will go hounding around for another woman.
His chance of finding something decent under another hood are slim.

Dermatologists would run fire sales on Botox and Restylane, but no one would scamper in breathlessly, white knuckled that they'd miss their chance for that one last injection.

Skin cancer? Gone forever if the skin’s always shielded from the sun.

Plastic surgeons?

Nary a one.

Who needs a nose job when you got a burqa.

Face lift? Let’s spell the answer together.

Now the exception might be implants. Some terribly superficial men (have you ever met one of those?) demand that their women get enlarged, so her chin might be falling to her chest, but her boobs will meet her mouth halfway up.

And the future can only get brighter.

Closet clutter will disappear. Sweaters, belts, Victoria Secret bras, jeans, T-shorts, and all those shoes from DSW.

And how about those wasted acres around our cities—schmata alley in Miami, the lower East side of New York, all malls, shopping villages, boutiques.

Things will be cleaner, neater. And talk about money saved!

Until one smart alecky guy—let’s call him Markowitz--thinks of maybe dressing up a burqa with a ruffle on the side. And another guy, Timmy, who’s sort of swishy, but women love him, suggests opening the hijab or head covering, and giving air to the lips, or bringing out a strand or two of flyaway hair—kind of like a nun on a windy day.

And we’d still have quality time to concentrate on what’s important in life.
While not forgetting that handbags were never abandoned, or manicured fingernails, or toe rings.

Yes, this can work, just like it does for the Afghan women, if only we’d give it a try.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A couple days ago there was an article in The Wall Street Journal about people offering decades old apologies through the internet.

There are even online websites to help with the job— and

The premise, of course, is that everyone is sorry about something and carries a burden of guilt that they need to unload from their chest.


Who did I need to offer an apology, and how come my mind's suddenly gone blank?

Nothing was keeping me awake at night, but I do own a constantly working mouth, so I’m aware that there must be a whole slew of people I’ve inadvertently or directly insulted.

It took a couple minutes.

Ah. How could I forget that things never seemed fair in grade school, and if I became unhappy, I simply told the teacher off.
Take for example our assistant principle Miss Hausner (I’m talking Bagley Elementary School in the fifties, Detroit).

The woman was an old maid who never had a good day—or probably a decent lay. Not once did I remember her grinning, or even attempting to. She’d stand in the hall and shoot deadly looks, her inner tube-like boobs landing at the belt of her old lady shirtwaist dresses.

She’d stop me for talking, walking too fast, sneering at her the way she sneered at me.

That final time I gave her a piece of my mind. I heard she wrote me up, but from then on, she turned away whenever I sauntered into the hall.

No, I don’t feel badly about speaking the truth, but maybe I have second thoughts about the names I used to call my brother.

I thought I was torturing him, which was of course my intent, by describing the kid as a shrimp and a punk, among other things. There. I admit it.

Truthfully, I just remembered those tiresome words as I was writing this blog.

But I offer my sincere apologies while I'm grateful it didn’t do a thing to tarnish his self-esteem.

So what do acts of contrition accomplish after all these years?

According to the Journal, people suddenly find that sloughing off the guilt brings an instant high—better than Rolaids for bringing on relief.

Apologies show that people still care, and it seems that people apologize for everything: lost library books, broken dates, cheating on tests, firing employees, telling a sister not to marry her now long time husband, even taking cuts in line.

In a way it’s kind of sweet. You receive a little surprise package—much like a morsel of manna when you weren’t even scrounging for food.

So Jeff, hope it feels good, even after fifty years.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Is it just me noticing more cars passing by with a memorial decal of a loved one stuck against their back window, or have you been seeing them too?

What a lovely trend.

Ironically highways are the leading cause of death in America--over war and any of the popular diseases--but need we add more heartache to reality?

I mean with two wars, unemployment at an all time high, and that Al-Qaeda piece of trash setting his crotch on fire Christmas Day, don’t we get enough bad news?

We used to mourn our dead in private, but nowadays cemeteries, urns, and plaques are not enough.

Today we get stuck at a red light reading about Big Willie gone at the age of 42.

Those saddened with the loss of a loved one have the bug to inform the public at every traffic signal, parking lot, multiplex, and McDonald’s that they’re depressed, and we gotta feel their pain.

This whole thing started with Dale Earnhardt, Sr.

NASCAR fans were stunned the day Earnhardt crashed and died at the Daytona 500 on February 8, 2001. They called it tragic. Shocking. More than they could bear.
The man in black ( I thought that was Johnny Cash) was a hero, and no one could’ve predicted that Earnhardt’s life would’ve ended that day.


Does it take a psychic to predict that when you round a corner at 160 mph, you might not die in your sleep just short of a hundred?

Everywhere I drove I saw Earnhardt, #3, 1951-2001.

Lately, I’m reading the birth and death dates of everyone else.

Enough already. A couple days ago I turned on Serius XM comedy when an SUV announcing Grandma Martha’s untimely demise cut in front of me.

Hey sorry Grandma, and I wished you would've told someone when you snuck off alone and went deep sea fishing, snagging that sixty-five pound marlin that yanked you into those roaring waves…

But keep those memorials to the side of the highway, not on them.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It’s cold outside and freezing across much of America.

People are wrapping themselves up—bundling, binding, layering—in Minnesota the police put on seven toppings to beat off the death-rattling chill.

Today central Floridians woke to about thirty six degrees, just above freezing, so can we complain?

Of course we can.

We complain about everything else.

Here some of the comments I heard.

“We had to run the heat for three days in a row, and this cold snap might last all week.”

“Took in all my plants in from the porch, and my kitchen looks like the Appalachian Trail, and that’s including Governor Sanford from South Carolina wandering the paths searching for his mistress from Argentina.”

“The dog’s cold, and I don’t even own a dog.”

And of course I agree. Why should we get the frost? Didn’t we guys make the conscious decision when we moved down to Florida to escape the tundralike temperatures for unforgiving heat and humidity?

Years ago the people on this peninsula announced that they'd choose outsized T-shirts, droopy shorts, and frizzy hair gnarled tighter than the Simpsons’ coiffures at a family reunion rather than subject ourselves to refreshing breezes that allow those high cost, blown dried, scissor-cut dos of the average well enhanced movie star.

We chose sweat over good looks, so enough of the plunging thermometers.

But then again…

I found this neat winter jacket and these leather fur lined boots. Then I saw cashmere sweaters at 75% off. Seventy-five?

That’s two hundred bucks for like fifty.

I couldn’t just turn and walk away.

I stood staring at the cardigans and pullovers. Surely one day it will be cold and nasty, and cashmere will be the only thinkable choice.

But there was merino wool on sale behind me, cotton knit to the left, cotton silk to the right.

What was a thinking woman to do?

Only one natural choice.

I built a few more drawers and shelves in my daughter’s closet—okay they were floor to ceiling. (She left years ago. It was only dead space.)

And this morning—look what happened—I woke up, and it was almost freezing!

So I had a few sweaters at the ready.

And I thank the lord that I had made enough room.