WITH A SAFETY PIN AND A PRAYER

Years ago there was a tongue-in-cheek advice given to girls when going on a date:

“Bring a newspaper and a safety pin. The newspaper is to place on a boy’s lap in case you’re in a crowded room and need to sit on his lap. The pin is to poke him if he tries anything you don’t want.”

Of course we all laughed but I’m sure we all crossed our fingers or said a prayer that we wouldn’t have to fight off a guy who couldn’t take “no” for an answer. Unfortunately this was the norm. This was the expected. This was and still seems to be the mentality of boys will be boys, what do you expect when they’re drunk, you dressed provocatively, you were drunk…and the list goes on and on.

No. Just no. No more. No longer should we females have to pray, scream, kick, or silently cry. Nor should we be laughed at or taunted by the males who feel they need to demonstrate their prowess or their entitlement.

There is one thing, though, that should also be noted: through the years of my dating or just being around males, it was the very few who acted like they could do anything they wanted with no repercussions. Most of the boys in high school and men in college and beyond respected me and I know my girlfriends can say the same. But what we need is for all males to realize that the norm now is not what it was, but rather what it should be. And that we girls and women will no longer tolerate any male who doesn’t accept that.

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EVIL VS.DEMONS

The other day I sat among a crowd of people in church, some of us listening, others snoring softly, as a person whom I respected tried to engage the congregation. He began with a mention of The Exorcist, the movie from the ’70s about a priest exorcising a devil from a child, well-played by the actress Linda Blair. He segued into Jesus exorcising demons from certain people who, as we now know, to be mentally ill. My hands clenched into fists and I willed myself to not jump up and yell, “This is the twenty-first century!” I didn’t want to wake up my husband whose eyes were slowly closing. Besides, embarrassment and I don’t get along.

Unfortunately, more than a few people nodded their heads in agreement as the speaker regaled us with stories in which he compared evil with demons. “Sin is all around us,” he stated. “And alcoholism and drug addiction and schizophrenia and….”

No. Just no. Sin is one thing. Sin, as in those with no morals who kill and then smile for the cameras and jury. That is evil. Facing one’s demons though, as in mental illness and addiction is another. They’d be horrified to physically hurt others.

We are not in the Dark Ages. Heck, we’re not even in the twentieth century. Let’s call evil what it is, and leave “demons” out of it.

SUMMER’S OVER (Hear Me Sigh)

The air is crisp,
my walk is brisk,
to lose the weight
from funnel cake.

I breathe in deep,
the climb is steep,
summer’s over,
must get over
chocolate ice cream,
(now a dream),
cannot forget
sweet baguettes.

Boardwalk food–
cannot brood
for greasy fries,
tomato pies.

Must bid adieu
to barbeque,
Margaritas
with fajitas.

The fall
it calls–
pumpkin lattes
mocha lattes.
Cider donuts,
luscious spiced nuts.

Beef stew,
comfort food.
I bid adieu–
my waistline too.

Lost Among the Gurneys

December 9

7 am–I’m at the hospital, wondering as I wander. My older son needs minor surgery today. As he’s whisked away on a gurney,  I’m told to sit in the waiting room, right around the corner.

Five minutes later and I’ve lost my way. I finally meander into a waiting room but the lights are out and the coffee machine is stone cold. I am in desperate need of caffeine and a map of the place. I wonder if they’ll find me.

7:45 am–After flagging down another lost person, we find our way to the correct waiting area. I settle in but realize that I lost my purse. A wonderful young man who works here probably sees a woman who looks like she’s in the early stages of dementia. He helps by walking me through the hallways to where I first sat, then after retrieving my errant purse, guides me safely back, past patients being wheeled on stretchers and gurneys into the sunrise. At least they know where they’re going.

9:30 am–After three cups of coffee and four bathroom breaks, I see my son being wheeled on a stretcher down the corridor. I rush after them. The transport person eyes me and says, “We looked for you. You must have been in the wrong waiting room.”

December 10

My older son is out and about. I’m on the couch, resting up from yesterday’s ordeal.

 

Meal-in-a-Box (Pass the Wine, Please)

After seeing so many ads for how I could be my own chef with ingredients picked out just for me and a few hundred-thousand others, I was ready to order at 50% off my first shipment.

But wait. I had to choose whether I wanted shellfish, meat, vegetarian, vegan, non-GMO, organic, natural, low-sodium, gluten-free, or surprise-me. Instead I picked up the phone and dialed Pizzas Are Us, poured a glass of healthful red wine, and composed this ditty about my vexation of too many choices with these boxed ingredients for a meal. (The names have been changed to protect the innocent.):

House Chef, Blue Chef,

isn’t there a Wine Chef?

Day Basket, fruit basket,

I think-I’m getting-looped basket.

Hi Fresh, farm fresh,

I really want a pizza fresh.

Carnivore, herbivore,

are there any fries du jour?

Black Apron, burnt apron,

too-close-to-the-stove apron.

Gluten free, cage free,

I’m-terribly-confused free.

Chop, stir, flip, stir,

the-meat-fell-on-the-floor stir.

Peas roll, carrots roll,

another glass of wine roll.

Fast food, quick food,

I-really-need-my-fix food.

And so the doorbell rang, and my boxed pizza came to me, cooked and piping hot, and my gleaming appliances and perfectly pressed apron stayed clean.

Cheers!

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST

The house sported original hurricane shutters and eight-over-eight leaded glass windows. Most rooms had a brick fireplace and decorative molding over the doorways.

The gutters leaked and the old house cried. The gnarled branches of the silver maples joined hands over the sagging roof, protecting it from the wind. It was a house well-lived and much loved and held promise.

It was demolished.

The newcomers arrive with their good intentions and money. A lot of money. How else can they buy a Dutch colonial from the ’20s or a Victorian with a brick foundation from 1890, or one of the first farmhouses in this town from the middle of the 19th century, and with merely a cursory glance at the interior, sign on the dotted line as the buyers. But after only a few hours consideration, they decide it isn’t exactly what they wanted (perhaps those Dutch doors didn’t lend themselves to marble and granite foyers), so instead of renovating, they tear it down. It doesn’t stop there. The two hundred year old oak has to go too, since the Bobcat couldn’t maneuver around it, and besides, it doesn’t mesh with their imported flowers and shrubs. Their landscaper says so.

A neighbor, who has lived in the town for over half-century, tries to explain the importance of preserving history. The newcomers decide right then and there to pledge a substantial donation to the historical society, perhaps to assuage any guilt. But it’s doubtful there is any.

They build their homes “in keeping with the aesthetics of the area” with dormers and gables and large porches. The interiors, though, are made for entertaining: six burner stoves with designer tile backsplashes, state of the art appliances, and custom cabinetry. And while they’re away at their other homes or traveling the world, they monitor the houses and keep them looking lived in, all wirelessly. The lights are on but they’re not home. Their busy lives make the houses a touchstone for when they need a day or two to return to an easier lifestyle. Or throw a big bash.

Within a few years, For Sale signs dot the perfectly manicured and chemically doused front lawns. There are other houses that call to them. Or the one they built just doesn’t cut it for their present day lifestyle. And once again, immediately after signing on the dotted line, the bulldozers clawing into another once-grand Victorian. They say, after much introspection (and no inspection), it was “too dated.”

And as the song by Queen goes, “Another one bites the dust.”

–Anne Skalitza, 2016

HOLIDAY OVERLOAD

Holiday Goodies

There’s always something

last minute to do,

like dashing downtown

only to stand in a queue.

Or tying up packages

with bells and some bows,

then forget what it was

we had wrapped–oh no!

The sound of sweet carols

fill the night air,

but try as we might,

our minds are elsewhere.

There are cookies to bake

and eggnog to buy,

yet we haven’t a clue

what we put in the pie.

Remember the reason

our homes are bedecked,

so sit down awhile

and take time to reflect.

May you and your loved ones

have joy, love, and peace,

and in the new year

may blessings not cease.

(Now go put your feet up!)

–Anne Skalitza