For my daughters and granddaughters

I recently read a book called “Kiss My Tiara — Ruling the World as a Smart Mouth Goddess.” Just before that, I read “Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood,” and before that, it was “The Red Tent.” Put all of those together and it got me to thinking about the kind of advice I want my daughters and granddaughters (when I get them) remember me giving them.  Some of it is just smart mouth goddess advice. Some is practical advice. All of it is heartfelt.

MAKE WAVES! This is maybe the most important piece of advice I have to offer. Make noise. Complain. Bitch out loud. Raise hell. Be a pain in the ass. Stand your ground. Never let someone say about you, “I’m not sure how she feels.” Let people know.

Way too often in our society, women (OK, people in general, but this advice is for women so let’s stick with that) don’t speak up. We bite our tongues. We swallow our words of anger or frustration. Stop it! And while we’re on the subject, love people out loud!

Be a soft armrest for wayward souls to lean on.

Whatever you do — don’t calm down. Right now, everywhere you go, you’ll get subtle and not so subtle messages to calm down. I’m not saying that relaxation can’t be blissful from time to time, but most of the “calm down” marketing and products are directed to women. When we get upset or angry or frustrated, we’re supposed to light candles and play restful music and meditate while taking a bubble bath. We’re supposed to get quiet and get centered. For centuries, women have been told to be quiet and think happy thoughts and take various forms of tranquilizers. Long ago, when women got hysterical about their lives, they were counseled to get hysterectomies. That seems barbaric, but the overall message is the same. Do whatever it takes to make you shut up and accept your life. If you’re upset about something or someone, chances are there’s a good reason. Blow out the candles, turn off the soft music, throw out the prozac, and take some action. That will make you happier and healthier than any narcotic or bubble bath.

Mistressbate. For sure, it releases more tension than twenty dollar aromatherapy candles AND it subverts the patriarchy.

And while we’re on the subject of mistressbating, let’s think of an even better phrase. Ask any guy for a euphemism for masterbating and you’ll get at least 20 of them — jerking off, spanking the monkey, glad-handing with mr. happy, choking the chicken, boxing goofy til he pukes, polishing the knob, stroking the salami, doing the one-handed tango. The list goes on and on. Ask a woman the same question, and there will be silence. And probably embarrassment because its something women seldom discuss at all. So what do you think? Pushing the button? Making love alone? Switch on the electric boyfriend? Self-servicing? Letting my fingers do the walking? Petting the kitty? How about visiting Disneyland? Having a calgon moment? Gettin happy with myself? Engaging in a hot button issue? Having sex with someone I love? Here’s my favorite: Voting Republican. Why? Come on — who is more self-serving? Voting Republican and jerking off really are very similar. So every time you go to a store and purchase a vibrator, be sure to announce very loudly, “I’m getting ready to vote Republican!”

Shape history. Not your thighs.

Forget about catching a husband. Catch a life instead.

What is a legacy? It is planting seeds in a garden that you never see.

If you want to sneak out of the house at night, you must first figure out which of the floor boards will scream like traitors and which ones can keep a secret. It’s a pretty good idea to learn that about friends, too.

God is Santa Claus for adults.

I’ve found that if you love life, life will love you back.

When someone you love is sad or depressed or grieving or angry or upset, there’s only one question you should ask: How can I love you best right now?

When your feet are not touching bottom, that’s when you do exciting things.

Take a few lovers. Travel the world. And don’t take any crap.

Be someone’s own personal rainbow.

When you’re starting to get serious about a future with a man, ask yourself, “Is this the man I want my children to spend every other weekend with?”

Fuck em if they can’t take a joke.

Pudding is instant. Real love and intimacy take a lot of time.

Boys don’t tease you because they like you. They tease you because they’re assholes. Abuse of any kind is not an acceptable expression of love.

Beauty and the Beast is a great fairy tale, but that’s all it is. It is not true that your love and devotion will transform a monster into a prince. A relationship is not a reformatory.

Things you can learn from men (you might have to think about these a little, but if you do, you’ll see I’m right. of course.) — Men don’t carry everything they might need sometime everywhere they go. Men don’t apologize to inanimate objects. Men don’t go to psychics for career advice. Men don’t wear shoes they can’t walk in. Men use dressing rooms for trying on clothes, not for thinking about plastic surgery or suicide. If men want chocolate, they don’t eat rice cakes instead.

Learn your Bible and your Bible stories. The Bible has 6 admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love heterosexuals. It’s just that they need more supervision.

Do one thing that scares you every day.

Love out loud. Laugh out loud. Live out loud.

“Do what you will wish you had done when you are old.”

Everybody’s heard this sage advice. Since I first heard it when I was still quite young myself, there aren’t just a whole lot of things that I flat-out have NOT done. Pretty much everything that came up required a choice, and I knew right off the bat, with very little pondering, what I would wish I had done. I’d wish I had done it all, and therefore I did it.

It goes beyond just the doing or not doing, though. If you decide in favor of doing and it turns out to be good, do a lot of it. You never know how short the supply might be. Some things in life are just so sweet — and sweet is really not strong enough — I mean, so soothing and delicious that sometimes the memory of them is all you need to get by. You can just close your eyes and put yourself there in an instant. Your mouth waters, your eyes tear up, your heart beats fast, and its hard to catch your breath.

This  next part is all from Nora Ephron’s book, “I Remember Nothing.” That book made me laugh, made me cry, and sometimes made me breathless with the simple, and complicated, truth of it.

I’m old.

I am sixty-nine years old.

I’m not really old, of course.

Really old is eighty.

But if you are young, you would definitely think that I’m old.

In these days of physical fitness, hair dye, and plastic surgery, you can live much of your life without feeling or even looking old.

But then one day, your knee goes, or your shoulder, or your back, or your hip. Your hot flashes come to an end. Things droop. Spots appear. Your cleavage looks like a peach pit. If your elbows faced forward, you would kill yourself.  (i love love love that line -jac). You’re two inches shorter than you used to be. You’re ten pounds fatter and you cannot lose a pound of it to save your soul. Your hands don’t work as well as they once did and you can’t open bottles, jars, wrappers, and especially those gadgets that are encased tightly in what seems to be molded mylar. If you were stranded on a desert island and your food was sealed in plastic packaging, you would starve to death. You take so many pills in the morning you don’t have room for breakfast.

Meanwhile, there is a new conversation, about CT scans and MRIs. Everywhere you look, there’s cancer. Once a week, there’s some sort of bad news. Once a month, there’s a funeral. You lose close friends and discover one of the worst truth of old age: they’re irreplaceable. People who run four miles a day and eat only nuts and berries drop dead. People who drink a quart of whiskey and smoke two packs of cigarettes a day drop dead. You are suddenly in a lottery, the ultimate game of chance, and someday your luck will run out. Everybody dies. There’s nothing you can do about it. Whether or not you eat six almonds a day. Whether or not you believe in God. Although there’s no question a belief in God would come in handy. It would be great to think there’s a plan, and that everything happens for a reason. I don’t happen to believe that. And every time one of my friends says to me, “Everything happens for a reason,” I would like to smack her.

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I have been forgetting things for years — at least since I was in my thirties. In my early days of forgetting things, words would slip away, and names. I did what you normally do when this happens: I scrolled through a mental dictionary, trying to figure out what letter the word began with, and how many syllables were involved. Eventually, the lost thing would float back into my head, recaptured. I never took such lapses as harbingers of doom, or old age, or actual senescence. I always knew that whatever I’d forgotten was going to come back to me sooner or later. Once I went to a store to buy a book about Alzheimer’s disease and forgot the name of it. I thought it was funny. And it was, at the time.

Here’s a thing I’ve never been able to remember: the title of that movie with Jeremy Irons. The one about Claus von Bulow. You know the one. All I ever succeeded in remembering was that it was three words long, and the middle word was “of.” For many years, this did not bother me at all, because no one I knew could ever think of the title either. One night, eight of us were at a theater together, and not one of us could retrieve it. Finally, someone Googled it and we were all informed of the title and we all vowed to remember it forever. For all I know, the other seven did. I, on the other hand, am back to remembering that it’s three words long with an “of ” in the middle. By the way, when we finally learned the title that night, we all agreed it was a bad title. No wonder we didn’t remember it. I am going to Google for the name of that movie. Be right back… .

It’s Reversal of Fortune. How is one to remember that tile? It has nothing to do with anything.

But here’s the point: I have been forgetting things for years, but now I forget in a new way. I used to believe I could eventually retrieve whatever was lost and then commit it to memory. Now I know I can’t possibly. Whatever’s gone is hopelessly gone. And what’s new doesn’t stick.

I have many symptoms of old age, aside from the physical. I occasionally repeat myself. I use the expression, “when I was young.” Often I don’t get the joke, although I pretend that I do. If I go see a play or a movie for a second time, it’s as if I didn’t see it at all the first time, even if the first time was just recently. I have no idea who anyone in People magazine is.

I used to think my problem was that my disk was full. Now I’m forced to conclude that the opposite is true: it’s becoming empty. (Here, she goes into a long list of things that she did, but about which, she cannot remember the details — and it’s hilarious, but my fingers are getting tired — jac).

 

For a long time, I didn’t know the difference between the Sunnis and the Shias, but there were so many pings I was finally forced to learn. But I can’t help wondering, Why did I bother? Wasn’t it enough to know they didn’t like each other? And in any case, I have now forgotten.

At this moment some of the things I’m refusing to know anything about include:

The former Soviet republics

The Kardashians

Twitter

All Housewives, Survivors, American Idols and Bachelors

Karzai’s brother

Soccer

Monkfish

Jay-Z

Every drink invented since the Cosmopolitan

Especially the drink made with crushed mint leaves. You know the one.

I am going to Google the name of that drink. Be right back… .

The Mojito.

I am living in the Google years, no question of that. And there are advantages to it. When you forget something, you can whip out your iPhone and go to Google.

The Senior Moment has become the Google moment, and it has a much nicer, hipper, younger, more contemporary sound, doesn’t it? By handling the obligations of the search mechanism, you almost prove you can keep up. You can delude yourself that no one at the table thinks of you as a geezer. And fining the missing bit is so quick. There’s none of the nightmare of the true Senior Moment — the long search for the answer, the guessing, the self-recrimination, the head-slapping mystification, the frustrated finger-snapping. You just go to Google and retrieve it.

You can’t retrieve your life — unless you’re on Wikipedia, in which case you can retrieve an inaccurate version of it.

But you can retrieve the name of that actor who was in that movie, the one about World War II. And the name of that writer who wrote that book,
the one about her affair with that painter. Or the name of the song that was sung by the singer, the one about love.

You know the one.

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I had gone to New York for the day and had had a meeting with a writer-producer named Jay Presson Allen. I was about to go to LaGuardia to take the Eastern shuttle back to Washington when she handed me a script she happened to have lying around, by an English writer named Frederic Raphael. “Read this,” she said. “You’ll like it.”

I opened it on the plane. It began with a married couple at a dinner party. I can’t remember their names, but for the sake of the story, let’s call them Clive and Lavinia. It was a very sophisticated dinner party and everyone at it was smart and brittle and chattering brilliantly. Clive and Lavinia were particularly clever, and they bantered with each other in a charming, flirtatious way. Everyone in the room admired them, and their marriage. The guests sat down to dinner and the patter continued. In the middle of the dinner, a man seated next to Lavinia put his hand on her leg. She put her cigarette out on his hand. The glittering conversation continued. Then the dinner ended, Clive and Lavinia got into their car to drive home. The talk ceased, and they drove in absolute silence. They had nothing to say to each other. And then Lavinia said: “All right. Who is she?”

That was on page 8 of the screenplay.

I closed the script. I couldn’t breathe. I knew at that moment that my husband was having an affair. I sat there, stunned, for the rest of the flight. The plane landed, and I went home and straight to his office in our apartment. There was a locked drawer. Of course, there was. I knew there would be. I found the key. I opened the drawer and there was the evidence — a book of children’s stories she’d given him, with an incredibly stupid inscription about their enduring love. I wrote about all this in a novel called Heartburn, and it’s a very funny book, but it wasn’t funny at the time. I was insane with grief. My heart was broken. I was terrified about what was going to happen to my children and me. I felt gaslighted, and idiotic, and completely mortified.

I walked out dramatically, and I came back after promises were made. My husband entered into the usual cycle for this sort of thing — lies lies and more lies. I myself entered into surveillance, steaming open American Express bills, swearing friends to secrecy, finding out that the friends I’d sworn to secrecy couldn’t keep a secret, and so forth. There was a mysterious receipt from James Robinson Antiques. I called James Robinson and pretended to be my husband’s assistant and claimed I needed to know exactly what the receipt was for so that I could ensure it. The receipt turned out to be for an antique porcelain box that said “I Love You Truly” on it. It was presumably not unlike the antique porcelain box my husband had bought for me a couple of years earlier that said, “Forever and Ever.” I mention all this so you will understand that this is part of the process: once you find out he’s cheated on you, you have to keep finding it out, over and over and over again, until you’ve degraded yourself so completely that there’s nothing left to do but walk out.

When my marriage ended, I was angry and hurt and shocked.

Now I think. Of course.

I think, Who can possibly be faithful when they’re young?

I think, Stuff happens.

I think, People are careless and there are almost never any consequences.

And I survived. My religion is Get Over It. I turned it into a rollicking story. I wrote a novel. I bought a house with the money from the novel.

People always say that once it goes away, you forget the pain. It’s a cliche of childbirth: you forget the pain. I don’t happen to agree. I remember the pain. What you really forget is love.

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Old friends? We must be. You’re delighted to see me. I’m delighted to see you. But who are you? Oh, my God, you’re Ellen. I can’t believe it. Ellen. “Ellen! How are you”? It’s been — how long has it been?” I’d like to suggest that the reason I didn’t recognize you right off the bat is that you’ve done something to your hair, but you’ve done nothing to your hair, nothing that would excuse my not recognizing you. What you’ve actually done is gotten older. I don’t believe it. You used to be my age, and now you’re much, much, much older than I am. You could be my mother. Unless, of course, I look as old as you and I don’t know it. Which is not possible. Or is it? I’m looking around the room and I notice that everyone in it looks like someone — and when I try to figure out exactly who that someone is, it turns out to be a former version of herself, a thinner version or a healthier version or a pre-plastic surgery version or a taller version. If this is true of everyone, it must be true of me. Mustn’t it? But never mind: you are speaking. “Maggie,” you say, “it’s been so long.” “I’m not Maggie,” I say. “Oh, my God,” you say, “it’s you. I didn’t recognize you. You’ve done something to your hair.”

Being in love is better than being in jail, being in bankruptcy court, being in a dentist’s chair, being in line at the airport, or being in the unemployment office,

but not if he doesn’t love you back.

**********

Brevity may be the soul of wit, but not when someone is saying, “I love you.” When someone is saying “I love you,” he always ought to give a lot of details: Like — why does he love you. How much does he love you. When and where did he first begin to love you. Favorable comparisons with all the other women he ever loved are also welcome. And even though he insists it would take forever to count the ways in which he loves you, let him start counting.

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It is better to have loved and lost than to have loved and gained 15 pounds.

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Time, space eternity, and change:

Time is what he’s never on.

Space is what he takes up too much of.

Eternity is how long we could live together & he’d never

change.

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What to Eat Before and After an Assignation

Well, “before” is a no-brainer; you can’t eat a damn thing. If you do, your stomach will pooch out like you’re twelve months pregnant, and it will ruin the lines of your trashy lingerie. And this is truly tragic. I don’t think there’s been any lingerie ever designed that will camouflage an engorged belly. A smock is all I can think of that would successfully conceal that you have eaten Chicago. Damn hard to look sexy in a smock.

You can get flat on your back as soon as possible — that helps. Your stomach always looks better if you’re flat on your back. Of course, if it’s so early in a relationship that reclining hasn’t been considered, then this might appear unseemly. Location can also be a problem. I’ve found there are hardly any good places to lie down at the movies.

Of course, as long as you’re fully clothed, you can hide a lot — even if you just sit with your purse in your lap. If your companion becomes unexpectedly amorous soon after a large meal, stall him. Delay any activity that would necessitate the removal of any of your clothing until digestion has been completed. If you know in advance that this is to be his lucky night, then by all means, postpone dinner.

After the fact, anything is the limit. You can eat as much as you want of whatever you want. Even if he’s still around, postfrolic, you can put on a big garment and look cute while you clean out the refrigerator with your own face. The very best eating, however, is to be enjoyed solo. Send him home, lock all the doors, pile up in the bed with a good movie, and have yourself a private smorgasbord. Two words: Hea Ven.

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Do Not Go To Casinos

I complained one time that I was probably the only person on the planet who had not been to a casino and so James and I struck out for Mississippi to try our luck. I don’t know what his expectations were for the evening. The only casinos I ever saw were in movies, so my hopes were high. I expected that everyone would be beautifully dressed and well mannered, sun-kissed and sophisticated. It certainly never occurred to me to question whether our fellow patrons would have teeth.

I now realize that I have always taken teeth for granted in my everyday life. Most everyone I encounter in my appointed rounds has a full set of them. So accustomed have I become to people having teeth, and plenty of them, it comes as a shock to me whenever I find myself in the presence of an individual over the age of eight who is without them.

The crowds parted wherever we walked, as if we were visiting royalty. There must have been a large, perhaps national, convention in town, of men with no chins and women with fat arms. There were two prevailing shirt styles for the men: (1) the nasty tank top, cot low enough on all sides to reveal an overabundance of body (especially back) hair, and stretched over the mandatory beer gut so tightly, they looked like huge hairy sacks of flour, and (2) the cowboy-stud shirt that belonged to one’s little brother — so small that only the bottom two snaps can be fastened, and the hairy beer but protrudes from the gaps.

Take my advice. Don’t go.

WEARIN’ A BOW

When I was little, Miss Norris was our school librarian and she was pretty very long very thick hair. I’m just guessing, though, because she ALWAYS wore it up, usually in a then-popular style called a double bubble. And in the middle of the two buns, she wore a bow. She was just going about her business at school one day and a little girl stopped her and asked her, “Miss Norris, do you know that you have a bow in your hair?” And she looked down at her and replied, “Well, of course I do, dear.” “You sure don’t act like it,” the little girl replied. So Miss Norris had to ask, “How should one act when one has a bow in her hair?” And the little girl earnestly explained, “Oh! You stand a little straighter and hold your head just so and, every now and then, you reach back and give it a little pat, because it’s special. And if somebody put a bow in your hair, then that means that YOU ARE SPECIAL.” Thinking of this story always makes me teary-eyed because no one has put a bow in my hair in so VERY long. But the real point of the story is knowing that we can all put a bow in our own hair and know how special we are. And by the way, a tiara works the same way!

IN MY OBITUARY IN THE NEWSPAPER — Be sure you put the following: In lieu of wasting your hard-earned money of flowers, the family is accepting cash or check (with proper ID) donations.

Love gone bad is at least interesting, if only in a macabre sort of way. It’s surely not boring. Love gone blah is simply death – slow, torturous, and ultimately longer-for death. When you’re mired in a lifeless, life-stifling, life-smothering relationship, you start to take it for granted. Life sucks, always did, always will, and so you’re just hunkered down, enduring this relationship. As far as I know, nobody is handing out prizes for endurance of life its ownself. In my experience, if you ignore your life, it will pretty much ignore you right back. I reckon the universe figures why should it bother sending you anything else if you haven’t got any more gumption than that.

Prizes are handed out in a continuous stream, however, to folks committed to living. When you finally wake up and look around, you realize that your life has been so bad for so long, it’s no longer even painful to you. And when you get yourself up on your hind legs and take action, you’ll not only wonder how you stood your misery for so long, but you will ask that all-important question: WHY?

Why did you bear that burden for so long when apparently you were wearing the Ruby Slippers the whole time? It doesn’t really matter too much why – as long as you start clicking those heels together and devote a fair amount of time each day to grinning and looking around you and appreciating.

Dating Age — Here’s the deal. People in their teens should date other people in their teens. People in their twenties and thirties should date each other, as should people in their forties and fifties. The only acceptable exception to this precept would be if we happen to be the younger woman. Actually, anything we do, anyone we want to date, is fine. We’re only interested in passing judgment on the behavior of others. This is because we are so good at it, and we always want to excel.

Something true about men:

NO compliment is too outrageous for a man to believe.  It does not matter what the truth is or how far away from anything like the truth what you say to him is. If you say something favorable to him about himself, you can rest assured that he will believe it. He will believe it with all his heart and mind and soul. You don’t even have to pretend to be sincere about it. He can be standing there, beer gut hanging to his knees and most of its hairy mass protruding way out from under a too small t-shirt that says, “A Little Poontang Never Hurt Anybody,” camouflage pants held up with hunter-orange suspenders, and a hat with fake turds on it. And you can look at him with dead-eyes and say, “Oh. Nice outfit,” and he will just wag all over like a big ole dog. Men have no shame. None. The gene is missing from the entire pool. And you can go to just about any swimming pool or beach anywhere any hot summer day and see proof positive.

 Make visible what, without you, might never have been seen.

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My friend works in a building with its own employee dining room. She’s had her share of ups and downs with men and one of the ladies who works in the dining room has been there long enough to read the faces of the folks she serves. My friend came in one day and the lady took one look at her and said, “Git another one.”

My friend was confused since she had not yet spoken a word. “What?”

The lady laid her hand on my friend’s arm, looked her squarely in the eye, and said, “You don’t have to say a word. It’s a man. I know it is. Git another one. This one don’t do right. Git another one.”

As my Daddy used to say whenever he thought too much of a fuss was being made over something lost or broken, “They makin them thangs ever’ day.”

So dispense with all the weeping and wailing over losing a guy. They’re making men every day. Just get another one.

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What to Eat When Tragedy Strikes

All tragedy is relative, of course. It could be anything from a car or plumbing failure to the death of the only person in the world who has ever been able to give you a really great haircut. If you’re upset about something — it’s a tragedy. A tragedy demands food, and lots of it.

I try to include items from all four major food groups — sweet salty, fried, and au gratin. Balance is very important.

You’ll also want to have friends on hand for the tragedy-thwarting feast. Under no circumstances, however, should you invite any of the jerks who refuse to acknowledge the depths of your misery. They can stay home and fill up on water for all we care.

Chocolate is the main staple of sedative food — the undisputed queen of all the comfort foods. I know this in my deepest heart. I frankly don’t understand how people who are genuinely allergic to chocolate manage to put one foot in front of the other, day after day; I’d have to throw myself in front of a bus. I thrive on chocolate. My system requires an abundance of it every day, just to function normally.

Don’t settle for less than you deserve. And don’t ever believe you don’t deserve it all. But maybe your job isn’t all that terrible. Your marriage is not really hideous; its just sort of beige. Flat, dull, lifeless – these are not good adjectives when they refer to your hair; they are infinitely worse if they apply to your life. If you are stuck, sweating, on a sandbar in the river of your life, you’ve got to find a way back into those swift, effervescent currents of joy that are your birthright.

GROWING OLDER AND WISER

Back when I was a mere Cute Girl, I thought a man was the answer to everything. I thought I had to have one, THE one, Mr. Right, before I could even begin to live. I had to have a date, then I had to have a boyfriend, then I had to have a husband. Nothing would do until I got Mr. Right. Then, there came a time of being not so much disillusioned as just really pissed off big time. During this time, I still thought a man was the answer to everything. Oh now, everything that was WRONG was because of a man. I thought he was the bringer of all things bad in my life and I was so mad about it that perhaps for a time I believed all men were the bringers of ALL things bad.

Now that I am within easy spittin distance of — well, somewhere between 50 and death — I can see that there’s nothing wrong with men in general — even specifically. Most of them are just fine. Really. And while I don’t want them to be the sole reason for living, I don’t want to run them all off with a stick either. I hope I have learned a few things about choice-making. I will share some of my hard-learned lessons with you as well as some of my cunning solutions to relationship problems.

Life is in a constant state of flux, that’s for sure. One day you’re a Cute Girl shyly shopping for your first real plug-in vibrator, and before you know it, your kids are nearly grown, your mother comes over a lot and you walk through the kitchen one day and there she sits with your vibrator, working on the crick in her neck.

Life isn’t over. Really. You’re just gonna have to make a few adjustments. And your criteria for making decisions will change, I hope.

For example, Mary Alice is probably all of 23 and she’d been married almost a year when I met her. In describing her like-new husband, she used these words: “He is so fine.” Well, I just about fell on the floor howling, “He is so fine?” This is a reason to go to the sock-hop with a guy. If he’s “so fine” all the other girls will be wild with jealousy. If he’s not also so bad, even your mother will be tickled because he is “so fine.” I didn’t even know people still said “so fine.” Back when I was in junior high school, shortly after the earth cooled, we even rhymed it; he would have been “fine as wine.” Not that any of us had ever had any wine, fine or otherwise, in order to make such an analogy. If we had, we would have known how terribly many variations and gradations of quality that term would imply. When I was in high school, people were “so fine,” with no rhyme. Being “so fine,” however, is no reason at all to haul off and marry somebody. Even if it happened to be ME who was so fine. Naturally, I am, but unless you and see and appreciate some of my other many fine qualities, trust me, you won’t be very happy married to me for very long. “So fine” just isn’t enough to sustain a relationship through anythinga past the first date. So my friends and I rolled around for about an hour, shrieking about Mary Alice’s like-new husband being so fine. We got off on tangents about our own ex-husbands and ex=boyfriends, about whom all of us might have used the words “so fine” at some early point. “Yeah, he came home last night singing ‘Rebel Rebel’ at the top of his lungs — again, with some stranger’s panties on his head — again, drunker than even he’s ever been — again. Couldn’t even get the door open. I heard him scratching around with his key and I went on down there, and of course I let him in — again — because he’s so fine! I’m working three jobs now, on account of he’s not even working one, but I don’t mind, because he’s so fine!”

“So fine” just doesn’t carry the weight it once did with me, I guess. I can tell the difference between Mr. Right and Mr. Right now. And this is my point. I  think I’ve learned a thing or two in my journey. And if you’re still reading, then you know that you’re going to read a lot more of my advice to you.

Can a man be your friend and nothing more? Yes, of course! A guy friend can and will serve in many capacities and meet many of our needs – all but one, truth be told. Guy friends can be talked to, they can be danced with, they can often fix things, and they are more than welcome to pay for things. But we do not have sex with them except on very rare occasions that most often involve dim lighting and too much alcohol. A wise person once said, “Never fuck your friends,” and I’m sure they meant that literally and figuratively. Words to live by.

Romance is a wide-spread, regularly occurring illusion/delusion that strikes females almost exclusively and causes them to imagine that males can be somehow transmogrified into something Other Than Men – in spite of the fact that everybody knows you can’t make nothing but a man out of ‘em. There is no data on how “romance” manifests itself in men because there are no documented cases on file.

Don’t be afraid to need people. We all need to feel needed. It is much harder to ask for help than it is to give it. But if you want to make a friend, don’t offer your help. Ask for theirs. That’s how friendships are formed.

Chocolate Makes My Clothes Shrink.

Is the world a different place now that your place in it is different?

When you’re young, you can’t wait to get married. Notice I said “get” married — no mention of “being” married. That’s because you can look at gorgeous magazines and try on amazing dresses, attend other people’s weddings and see close up and personal what it is like to GET married. Nothing on this earth can prepare you for the reality of being married. You won’t listen to anybody who’s done it. Don’t feel bad: None of us would listen either. However, once you have been married, if you ever do decide to get married again, it will be a whole different deal. You will know that all that money can be better spent on just about anything — a lifetime supply of chewing gum or a house of something — than a wedding. A wedding the — well, maybe not THE — but certainly one of the stupidest financial decisions a woman ever makes in her life. I don’t know of even one single woman — certainly not one who is single again — who is glad she spent a bazillion dollars on her wedding. Everybody now wishes she had even half that money for plastic surgery or something else that might bring long-lasting pleasure.

Refrigerator Box Theory of Life — What I’m talking about here is this thing that used to happen when I was a kid. Someone on our block would get a new refrigerator and all the kids would wait outside until the delivery guys brought out the coveted refrigerator box. It was the best toy in the entire universe. All you needed was your imagination and that box could be anything — castle, boat, log cabin, jail, spaceship, school, store, ice cream parlor. A refrigerator box lasted forever — at least all summer, which felt like the same thing back then — unless somebody forgot to drag it into the garage when it rained.

When you get divorced, or end any long term relationship, you’ve got to first look realistically at the dark side: He’s gone. And you’re all alone. You’ve got to figure it out by yourself and make a plan for your life. Or at least the next little part of it. So to do this, let’s make a very slight but crucial mental shift in your thinking. Let’s move to lookin at the bright side: He’s gone! You’re all alone! You get to figure it out by yourself and make a plan for what you want to do! You’ve just been handed a brand new refrigerator box all your own and you can make it into anything you want, and you can change that plan at any time without consulting anybody else to see if that might interfere with the ball game or deer season. I charge you, therefore, if you are the one in the middle of the divorce, to get up off your ass and make something good happen for yourself.

And if you are the friends of the one who is in the middle of the divorce — get over there and help her out. Do all the things for her, and with her, you would do if she were burying her husband instead of just running him off with a stick. Sometimes the whole situation is so bleak, its a stretch to find any flicker of hope. On those occasions, only other women can help women through this.

The Time Is NOW — I cannot imagine who came up with that phrase about “time marching on.” For whom is time merely marching? And I have to wonder why it seems to be moving so slowly for them: Poor things must be bored slap to death. For me, on the other hand, time is whipping by so fast, I feel like the way dogs look when they hang out the window of a fast moving car — hair and ears blown straight back, tongue hanging out, grinning and blinking in the wind. This must be because I devote so much of my life to having fun. I love to play.

Don’t fear being near-death — but rather fear, dread, loathe, and do all you can to avoid near-life experiences. Nobody goes to the grave or to the nursing home wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth and just wishing they’d served on a few more committees, worked a few more hours. Too often we are waiting until we, and then later, our children, finish school, finish paying off the mortgage, lose weight, meet our soulmate, or retire. We are always, as we say in Texas, just “fixin’ to.” After this thing or that one happens, THEN we will live. And, lo and behold, before any of that stuff can happen, it is over, and we never got around to living. No more near-life experiences, please. Whatever it isIMG_7726 you are going to do someday. well, someday is here. Have at it. I am here to tell you, it is way better to live your dream than it is to dream it.