Warning! If you are even slightly shy, you might want to stop reading now. Because today I will be discussing an intimate body part known as the “intergluteal cleft.” Translation for those of us not having a medical dictionary at hand, I am referring to our butt cracks!
If you watch even a smattering of television, I’m sure you’ve noticed the commercials for a product called Lume, pronounced Lu-mee. (Sorry, my keyboard doesn’t have the appropriate diacritic key.) It’s hard to miss. The in-your-face face of its inventor, one Dr. Shannon Klingman, does a close-up so close up on your screen that it provides a TV viewing experience akin to IMAX.
In her all-to-frequent ads, she of the giant head proclaims that she has created a full-body deodorant so safe and effective that it can be used anywhere on your body, including your private and not-so-private parts. I watch in amazement as she pantomimes the application of Lume (please picture the mark that turns the final letter into a long “e”) on her own enlarged anatomical structures. I mean, who knew that my boobs might be smelly even if I showered every day! I’ve never had any complaints. But that’s a topic for another day.
I’ve gotten used to seeing her take over my entire TV screen, so when I hear her voice, I have been able to tune out her enthusiasm for eliminating body odor. But the other day, one of her commercials made me sit up and take notice. While most of her spiel includes a rundown of all possible areas of the body where bacteria could be lurking, this commercial had a particular focus on the cleavage between our lower cheeks, crudely known as the butt crack.
What I found so curiously startling about this particular 60-second segment was that Dr. Klingman was actually quoting statistics from a study, complete with visuals such as a bar graph, that proved that an application of Lume was effective in eliminating 100% of butt crack odor for a full 72 hours, whereas 60% of odor (or something like that) remained or returned in the same time period after a mere shower.
Wow! This was amazing. Not the deodorant, but the idea that such a study even existed. I mean, who funds a study on butt crack odor? And why? And what is the protocol? I don’t even want to think about it!
Did the study’s participants agree to not shower for three days? That’s not the habit of most people I know.
And tell me, how do we know that our butt cracks smell? I’m no contortionist, and it certainly never occurred to me to ask a friend, or even my husband.
Dr. Klingman, I have a fresh marketing idea for you. Have you ever considered selling your products through Petco? Because it’s dogs, not people, who get acquainted by sniffing each other’s butts. Having raised five dogs over the years, I have countless memories of getting tangled in dog leashes while my and a neighbor’s canine circled each other nose to rear end, deciding if they could be friends.
And think of all the creative new scents you could develop. Smells like Fire Hydrant, Chicken Bones, Goose Poop and all those other good whiffs to which dogs are attracted. Even the fiercest of dogs could become best buds based on the pleasing aromas emanating from their rear ends.
No need to acknowledge me for authoring this novel concept. And I don’t want any royalties. But you could do me one big favor. Please remove your face, and all your body parts, from my TV screen. I, and my dog, thank you!
So, we turned the clock back an hour this past weekend. Unless you live in Hawaii or Arizona. Those states are on perpetual Daylight Savings Time. Unless you are a member of the Navajo Nation who happens to live in Arizona. In that case, like the rest of the 48, you did turn back the clock.
I see you scratching your head, so I will explain. To be in conformity with their brothers and sisters who live in neighboring states where clock-changing is a seasonal ritual, the Arizona Navajos have decided that if it’s twelve noon for a cousin who lives in Gallup, New Mexico, then it should be twelve noon for the cousin who lives near Flagstaff.
However, what happens when someone leaves the tribal land and steps into the Daylight Savings Time zone? And then returns. Does their mobile phone keep flipping the hour back and forth? I wouldn’t want to be Siri in Arizona!
After this long digression about the southwest, let me get to my main point, which is sleep, or lack thereof. If you’re like me, messing with the clock can mess with an already fragile sleep cycle. Which reminds me of an essay I wrote several years ago that is every bit as true today as it was then.
The Insomnia Games
I am not, by nature, a competitive person. If I even so much as win at a game of Scrabble, my inclination is to leap over the board, hug the loser, and say “sorry.” Yet, each morning, upon opening my eyes, I find myself engaged in a verbal duel.
I’m not exactly sure when this all began. Perhaps it started on that critical birthday. The one when my bladder decided to stop cooperating with my need for hydration, and instead taunt me during the night in two-hour intervals. Which I think is very spiteful.
I’m reminded of my former dogs. When they were old, I had to remove their water bowls no later than 5:00 PM to prevent them from awakening after bedtime and having to go outside to pee. At least I don’t have to go outside, but I’m considering rolling back happy hour.
What is referred to as “a good night’s sleep” has become elusive. As it has for my husband, who swears he hasn’t slept through the night since he was 10 months old. His parents are deceased so I cannot confirm or deny this report, but I do know that another factor in my sleepus interruptus is the glow of his iPad at some ungodly hour.
As a result of this pernicious insomnia, we have become quite competitive, constantly challenging each other as to who has had the worst night. A typical morning conversation might go something like this:
“How did you sleep?”
“Yeah, well, I slept worse.”
“I woke at 3:00 am and haven’t been to sleep since.”
“Yeah, well, I woke at 2:50.”
“No, you didn’t. I saw you. You were sound asleep.”
“I was just pretending.”
“So how come you were snoring?”
“I had to go to the bathroom three times.”
“I had to go four.”
“Yeah, well, I had leg cramps.”
“I know. I heard you marching around the bedroom.”
“No, you didn’t. You were sleeping.”
The verbal jousting is halted by the current dog, who is covering his ears, and our need for coffee. This requires one of us leaving the bed, usually me.
I’m quite sure that competitive not-sleeping isn’t limited to us. I believe we have entered a stage in life where sleep deprivation may very well be the new status age-related deficit, edging out other contenders, like the greatest number of body part replacements, who knows the best doctors, and HDL scores.
Conversations around a dinner table often focus on the virtues and pitfalls of Ambien over Lunesta, or how spraying lavender on your pillowcase is very soothing and will lull you to dreamland. I tried that. I wound up with a damp pillowcase and an allergy attack.
And don’t ever complain to a friend that you’re tired all the time because you average only four hours of sleep. Sympathy will not be forthcoming, but rather, “you think that’s bad; I never sleep.”
As for me, I’m tired, and would like to withdraw from the game. I’d gladly relinquish the gold medal in exchange for a few nights of sound, solid, restful sleep.
And when my husband laments in the morning about how bad the night was, I would gently pat his hand, commiserate, and try my best to refrain from gloating. After all, I’m not a competitive person.
It’s been a while since I’ve griped about TV news. Eighteen months and 16 days to be exact. That’s because I’ve been on a diet – a kind of Golo for news junkies. But who can stick to a controlled viewing plan when the world is standing on its head?
At the time of my last “rant” I took up arms to combat the over-usage of metaphors that permeated TV broadcasting. In addition to a diminishing tolerance for cliches, I resented their repeated usage because they were downright intimidating. Their use is supposed to signal that the person using them is an up-to-date expert. The user is “in,” part of the cognoscenti, and if you didn’t connect with the metaphor, you were so not!
At the time of writing the cable news networks were rife with expressions such as “low hanging fruit,” “wheelhouse,” “band width,” “playing Whac-a-Mole,” and “hyperbole,” to name but a few.
I have no idea how these words became popular, but I have my suspicions. Perhaps once a year, representatives from the business and news media hold their annual “Edgy Word Convention” at a large venue, maybe Madison Square Garden or Yankee Stadium if the weather’s good. After days of meeting in small groups they come together to vote on a fresh list of buzz words aimed at cleverness, which is then disseminated to all the talking heads with instructions to begin use immediately.
I know my little fantasy is not plausible, but I’m at a loss to explain how these expressions permeate newsprint and TV with such widespread usage.
Now that I’m tuned in once again, I’m happy to report that most of last year’s least-wanted list has fallen into disuse. Apart from “hyperbole,” which President Biden insists on keeping alive to assure us that his remarks are sincere and not the “h” word.
But alas, a new expression has emerged to fill the void. Ladies and gentlemen: permit me to introduce writ large.
Writ large. Was I tuned in to CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, or Oprah the first time I heard it? No matter. But I do remember experiencing a kind of aural double-take, not convinced of the words I was actually hearing. Did it mean something that was printed in big letters, like the first line of an eye chart? If so, what did the reference to the first line of an eye chart have to do with the inability of Republican congressmen to choose a new leader? There it was again, the intimidation factor!
Soon everyone was saying it. Statements ending with the phrase “writ large” were flourishing on my TV screen. And once more, it felt like I was the only one at the party who didn’t get the punch line.
What holds the ego together at moments like this is the belief that one is not alone. In all my years of conversing, and they are many (I was an early talker) I don’t recall any of my discussion partners including the phrase in their discourse. Whether we were talking about our next salon appointment, or something more serious, each conversation was remarkable in the absence of writ large!
So where do they come from, these most recent buzz words? Wanting to join in the laughter, I was motivated to conduct a bit of research, and here’s what I found.
The phrase writ large means that something is clear and obvious.
Writ is an archaic form of “written.” So, one can understand the idiom writ large as something written largely or magnified. (So, I wasn’t far off when I likened it to the first line of an eye chart!) However, it should always be used in reference to a specific noun, used after said noun as an appositive and not as a verbal phrase.
I admit to having to look up the definition of “appositive,” but I am now armed and ready to catch any talking head trying to appear au courant but using the phrase incorrectly!
And, just in case you plan on adopting the expression for use in your own banter, I offer the following examples:
For political discourse:
Chaos prevails in Congress writ large.
For everyday gossip:
Martha has had botox writ large.
The Robinsons have lots of money writ large, and they know how to spend it!
My son, the doctor, was the brightest in his class writ large.
Now that I have laid to rest my curiosity about writ large, another question emerges. Is there such a thing as writ small?
It’s once again fall, my favorite season. I love the fall colors. Standing near a tree aglow with orange, red, and rust-colored leaves is very flattering to my complexion.
Fall is also the time when you might be considering a wardrobe update. As you stow the linens and retrieve the sweaters, you might be browsing through fall fashion preview publications. This can be a very disheartening experience for “women of a certain age.” So, to ease the pain just a little, I’ve decided to repost “an oldie but goodie.” It’s just as true this year as when I wrote it.
What’s In It for Me?
Can you believe it’s already mid-September? Where have all the flowers gone? The summer flew by as quickly as if it was being pursued by a pack of cheetahs. (Do cheetahs run in packs?) Now, all the signs of fall are in the air — shorter days, cooler nights, and, according to my runny nose and itchy eyes, whichever pollen is released into the atmosphere after Labor Day.
And as much as some of us hate to see summer disappear, we are motivated to turn our attention to our wardrobes. Do we play by the old rules and pack away those whites until next Memorial Day, or abide by “white is still alright?”
And who can resist the temptation of perusing the fall fashion supplements that arrive with our newspapers, or of browsing through a fashion magazine as we wait at the check-out line in the local supermarket.
One such opportunity presented itself to me as I sat in the waiting room of one of the many doctors I visit every September. (Fall also happens to be my check-up season. See High Maintenance…) Lying on the coffee table was the very hefty volume of the latest Vogue Magazine, loudly announcing that it was “The September Issue” and inviting me to “Come On In.” Anticipating the average 45-minute wait to see the doctor, I calculated that I probably had enough time to flip through a least half of the more than 592 pages. And so I did. Went on in, that is.
And what was in it for me? Absolutely nothing! Unless I wanted to emulate some 14-year-old model in six inch stilettos, and a low cut suit jacket with nothing underneath. Or consider a short skirt with boots rising to mid-thigh. Or how about a T-shirt sporting a picture of Alice Cooper?
Women of a certain age (and men, too) once again we have been overlooked by the media and the fashion industry! Nowhere among those glossy pages was there a representation of the millions of us who are more concerned with fashionably concealing than revealing.
Still with time on my hands, I wondered what a fashion magazine would actually contain if it was geared towards the Medicare set. And who would publish it? So let me share with you some preliminary thoughts about my fantasy publication.
WELCOME TO THE LATEST ISSUE OF
THE AARP MAGAZINE FALL FASHION PREVIEW
THE PRACTICAL STILETTO
We are proud to feature the latest fashion in footwear for Fall. Jimmy Choo’s heretofore unknown half-brother, Seymour, has designed the perfect shoe for the fashion-conscious woman who is also concerned with avoiding a hip replacement. Meet the new stiletto — the one with the removable heel. Unlike his half-brother, Sy Choo really gets older women. The long thin heel is perfect for crossing a sexy leg while seated, or quietly standing still while posing for a family photo. But want to get from Point A to Point B? Simply unscrew the heels, tuck them discreetly into your purse, and voila! You are comfortably and safely on terra firma.
Everything old is new again! The fashion house of Yves St. Laurent revives the Trapeze shape!
Those YSL folks understand that women of a certain age desire to look fashionable and trim, but also reject Spanx and other confining undergarments. Enter the Trapeze dress. A big hit in the 50’s, the line has been updated to suit the modern Medicare recipient who wants to be chic, and yet discrete about her muffin tops. Add a pair of low-heeled, sensible shoes and you’re ready for the fall season. Available in two slimming shades: black and ebony.
NOT YOUR DAUGHTER’S THONGS
Feel foolish wearing bikini underwear? Tummy revealing those few extra pounds that came from who knows where? Don’t despair. You can still feel sexy in today’s high-waisted briefs! Every woman knows that the backbone of any good wardrobe is their undies (along with bras that actually fit). So, here’s the skinny on the latest skivvies. For that woman of a certain age, we present the extra cut and coverage line of high waisted underwear. These little cuties are far from frumpy. Made with lace in all the right places, they feature polka dots, stripes, and flashy patterns that you wouldn’t be caught dead in wearing on the outside. But under those Trapeze dresses, why not have a little bit of fun?
THE HOT 2023 JUMPSUIT? YES, YOU CAN!
Good news! You don’t have to avoid the versatile jumpsuit just because your last birthday came with more frequent trips to the loo. Thanks to Neiman-Marcus and the House of DVF, you can enjoy the long, lean look afforded by this sexy one-piece garment without the stress of removing it before you lose bladder control. Today’s jumpsuit for the older woman comes with quick-release features that assures you will always look cool… and stay dry. So whether you want one of these cuties for casual wear, or a black silk for a formal occasion, go for it! Be daring! Remember, relief is just a snap away.
To be continued, folks. The nurse just called my name. Please feel free to send me any ideas of your own. I’d be happy to forward them to AARP for their first fashion issue. So be sure to look inside. It’s all there for us!
For a city kid moving to the suburbs, the idea of having a vegetable garden was enticing. Pioneer spirit, return to the soil, one with nature, and all the rest.
Okay, so I wasn’t such a kid when, knowing nothing, I decided to dig up a patch of grass and turn it into a spot where I could grow my own tomatoes. And eggplant. And maybe peppers and zucchini. I would save money, grow without pesticides, and come the Apocalypse, we would have enough ratatouille to sustain us for years.
Well, the bliss of ignorance does not last forever. Doing battle with rabbits and slugs, who apparently also like ratatouille, and not quite knowing how to handle a squash that grew to the size of small canoe, or an abundance of tomatoes, soon dampened my farm girl spirit. And saving money? Between the fence, the fertilizer, the starter plants, and my trips to the chiropractor it was probably the most expensive vegetable stew on the eastern seaboard! Needless to say, a few years in, the project was abandoned.
Fast forward to 2023 and I find myself once again gazing at a vegetable garden. Only now it is not of my making. Currently I co-exist outdoors with my extended family and this vegetable garden was a mother’s creative response to COVID. No, she did not fear the approach of End of Days, but rather it was a safe outdoor activity to occupy a restless, homebound 13-year-old. Four years later, we are still “bringing in the sheaves!”
I have to say that the approach to gardening by said daughter is much more thoughtful than mine. She researches, watches how-to You Tube videos, fertilizes, and has invested in a taller fence. She is also more adventurous. While our red, green, and purple produce are similar (although she has traded zucchini for cucumbers), she surprises with a new planting each year. I must admit that the corn and watermelon of prior years were a bit of a disappointment, but she remains undaunted.
This year it was potatoes, which we assume are alive and well beneath the soil. Reaping can be tricky when you can’t actually see the fruits (pun intended) of your labor.
Well, it’s harvest time and once again there is an abundance. I come home to find baskets of tomatoes and cucumbers sitting on my kitchen counter. It is a generous offering, but I know from experience that it’s also a cry for help.
So, what does one do with a bushel of obscenely large cucumbers, some of which resemble a man-part with Peroni’s disease? I quickly put that vision out of my head and set to work searching my pathetic collection of cookbooks for cucumber recipes that were not X-rated.
I had no idea that cucumbers were so versatile. In addition to creamy cucumbers, smashed cucumbers, dilled cucumbers, there are also Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Korean versions of this ubiquitous fruit. (Didn’t even know cucs were a fruit.)
I made cucumber soup, cucumber water, cucumber sandwiches, and chopped cucumbers into my tuna fish salad. I placed chilled cucumber slices over my eyes to reduce dark circles and puffiness and considered trying the same therapy on my Buddha belly. Honestly, I did my best, and yet there are more.
And of course, there are the tomatoes. Tomatoes of all sizes. Cherry tomatoes that grew as large as kumquats. Have you ever tried gazpacho for breakfast? Add a dollop of sour cream and you’re on to something!
We are eating chicken with tomatoes, pasta with tomatoes, mozzarella with tomatoes, tomatoes with tomatoes! And yet there are more.
I’m reminded of an essay that I read years ago. It was written by Russell Baker, who, among other things, wrote the Sunday Observer column for the New York Times Magazine.
He wrote about trying his hand at gardening and making the mistake of planting zucchini squash, which, like the cucumber, multiplies like the brooms in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Not knowing what to do with all that zucchini, he tried to give them away to neighbors, who locked their doors as they saw him approach. Feeling desperate, he came up with a plan. He loaded his car with baskets full of squash and drove to the large parking lot of the local mall. He tried the door handles of the empty cars, and if any doors were unlocked the unsuspecting owner would return to find a basket of zucchini on the back seat!
There must be a reason why I remember this essay so well. Of course, it came to mind when we were trying to figure out what to do with too much of a good thing. I haven’t yet tried Mr. Baker’s tactic. But there’s still the matter of the potatoes!
Labor Day weekend is upon us, and despite the fact that we were just experiencing a heat wave, come Monday, summer is unofficially at an end.
In truth, summer is not really over until the calendar says it is, on or about September 21. But then, the calendar completely ignores the real indications of the season’s conclusion, like shorter days, covers placed back atop swimming pools, and traffic at a standstill while the school buses unload their charges.
And didn’t I just see Halloween candy being stacked on display at my local food store?
(Why do retailers insist on compressing my life? At this age, I can’t afford to be rushed. But I digress.)
But perhaps the strongest indicator that vacation time has come and gone is the long-lived fashion commandment that, as of tomorrow, all white attire and accessories are subject to banishment!
So, Tuesday might also be considered a holiday, (White-Out Day?) celebrated by collecting all of the white items in your closet and exiling them to storage for the next two seasons. (Unless you spend the winter in Florida, in which case you’re allowed to ship them south.)
Being a woman of a certain age, I cannot remember a time when my seasonal wardrobe was not governed by the Memorial Day\Labor Day rule — that all things white emerged from hiding during the Memorial Day weekend and went back into hiding immediately after Labor Day. To do otherwise was to put yourself at the mercy of the fashion police.
Curious about its origins, I did a little checking into the mandate that for so long controlled the colors in my closet. I discovered that, in fact, its onset was born out of wealth and class, as well as a certain practicality.
Labor Day became an official holiday in 1894. For the wealthy classes in large cities, particularly in the northeast, the summer season was bracketed by Memorial Day on one end, and Labor Day at the other. Those with money would leave the cities for the cooler shore, or cottages in the country. White clothing was worn because it was cool and came to signify leisure and vacation.
Returning to the cities after Labor Day meant the end of vacation and back to work. In the cities, white clothing was no longer practical. Hence, light clothing was stored away, and darker colors emerged for city life.
Apparently, this notion was reinforced during the 50’s by women’s magazines, which encouraged an ongoing fashion identity with the wealthy. I no doubt glanced through some of these issues while accompanying my mother to her weekly beauty parlor appointments.
But here we are in 2023 and the right-to-wear-white-on-Tuesday question is still under discussion. Just ask Google.
I did that, and the consensus, based on the endless number of vapid fashion blogs available on the internet, suggest that women, and their summer whites, have, in fact, been untethered. We have been granted permission to do as we wish. (Although why we needed permission in the first place is definitely a matter for another discussion.)
So, ladies, and men, make your own choices. If you care to wear your crisp white linens at Thanksgiving, feel free. Just be careful and don’t mistake your pant leg for the dinner napkin.
As for me, come next Tuesday, I shall probably stare at my own closet, and try to be mindful that, although I was a product of the 50s, I am now a thoroughly modern woman. While I no longer look over my shoulder for Serial Mom (see note below if you don’t remember Serial Mom) old habits do die hard.
But whatever I decide to do clothing-wise, I shall draw comfort from the following. There is no rule about
drinking white after Labor Day, is there?
Serial Mom, a satire, is a John Waters film released in 1994. Kathleen Turner played a “sweet” suburban mom who killed people for committing social faux pas, like wearing white after Labor Day.
Originally published August 31, 2018.
Ever hear of an earworm? Even if you haven’t heard the term, I’m sure you’ve experienced the phenomenon.
An earworm is a tune that pops into your head, seemingly from nowhere, and you can’t get rid of for hours, sometimes even days. It’s a melody that slowly clings to your brain and quickly gets on your nerves.
At first you may find it amusing, as in how weird, where did you come from? But after its 90th rerun, you just want to strangle it.
It’s estimated by the strange scientists who study these things that over 90% of us humans experience earworms at one time or another. The melodies in question might be songs you like or even songs you don’t! You have no control. Like a reflex, it’s involuntary.
I would guess that I am overtaken by an earworm at least once a month, and if I’m really off my game, could be as often as every other week. It’s a sneaky little parasite, as unpredictable as my husband’s golf game. Sometimes it’s there, first thing in the morning. It’s as if it’s been crouching in my auditory cortex all night, just waiting for me to open my eyes. Other times, it pops up in the middle of the day when I’m doing something quite mundane, like picking up dog poop from the sidewalk.
There are occasions when I don’t mind it. Like when we heard of the recent death of a music icon and my pet earworm, let’s call him Phil, began playing the best of Tony Bennett. It was soothing and nostalgic, but I admit after a while I eliminated San Francisco as a place I like to visit.
I also don’t mind if Phil serenades me with Stephen Sondheim show tunes, Billy Joel, or Bruce Springstein. Or clever rap music. But I draw the line at a medley of The Village People! And I don’t give a f*&k Who Let the Dogs Out!
But the worst – the very worst – is when Phil decides to fill my head with commercials. That’s when I’m ready to skewer Phil at the end of a fishing line.
Do you have any idea what it’s like to experience 1-877-Kars for Kids on a continuous loop? Did you ever entertain murderous thoughts about doing away with little kids dressed in pink? Or, at the very least locking them in an attic until their voices changed and their instruments rusted? Well, I have. And I don’t feel good about it.
But the latest, and possibly worst torture inflicted by Phil is a very uplifting, jubilant, and joyous jingle for a drug! And yes, I’ll name it. It’s Jardiance. It’s a medication that lowers blood sugar and is also good for your heart. But read the fine print. The catchy tune can create havoc in your brain!
Have you seen the commercial? If you watch any TV at all, it’s really hard to miss. It’s like a Hollywood epic. An incredibly affable woman pops out of her house and begins rapturously singing the praises of a little pill that she apparently has just ingested. She is surrounded by a cast of thousands, with all eyes on her. She finishes singing, and she and the entire community break into a lively disco-type dance to the sounds of the catchy, uplifting, jubilant, and joyous jingle. And although Miss Conviviality stopped singing for a few seconds, Phil had plenty of time to make sure that I remembered every word!
And what really makes me angry is that Jardiance doesn’t work. My husband takes it, and his dancing hasn’t improved, not one little bit!
So, when you’re ready for the Sounds of Silence, how does one exorcise an earworm? Have those clever scientists come up with a remedy? They have, and it might just surprise you.
The antidote to your own personal Phil is gum. Yes, that’s gum. As in chewing gum. And here is what I learned: “Chewing gum is an easy method known to help get rid of earworms. This is tied to the theory that jaw movement affects, or reduces, musical cognition.” It’s as simple as that.
The problem is the article doesn’t suggest what type of gum is best to chew. Perhaps different flavors work best for different musical genres. For example, to rid my consciousness of Kars for Kids, would pink sugar-laden bubble gum work best? I’ll give it a try. If it works, I promise I’ll let those brats out of the attic!
Note: Unfiltered Wit is taking summer break. August posts will be reruns but stay tuned for fresh nonsense after Labor Day! Stay cool!
In the interest of full transparency I am stating at the outset that the idea for this essay did not originate with me. So, New Yorker Magazine, if you’re listening, I give you full credit.
In a recent on-line “Daily Shouts” column, the author, Jenny Arimoto, wrote a spoof on celebrity beauty brands. Naming recent celebs who have gotten into the beauty business, such as Selena Gomez with her makeup line, the author invented other possibilities, like Second Chances by Felicity Huffman. Created while she spent ten days in jail, Second Chances serum consists of only three ingredients and can be easily concocted in a toilet.
The column was definitely a giggle, and also a stimulant. Why limit the product lines to beauty? The marketplace is vast, and with a famous name attached to something you didn’t know you couldn’t live without, the possibilities are limitless. So, below I offer some creative ideas to which the named celebrities should give serious consideration.
Trumpe l’oeil by Ivanka Trump
The first daughter and Presidential advisor, Ivanka Kushner (nee Trump) has applied her vast knowledge of the fashion industry to creating a stunning new line of wallpaper specifically designed to deceive the eye. Taking poetic license from the original spelling, Trompe l’oeil, Ivanka artistically applies the art of fakery, making two-dimensional representations appear real. The buyer can select from a wide range of murals, including, but not limited to, the bathroom at Mar-a-Lago, with or without storage boxes, Donald and Melania descending the now-famous escalator, or any one of Trump’s golf courses. If your decorator selects the latter, we recommend Bedminster because one can choose to include several options, such as the ninth hole with a portrait of Donald in golf shorts, or a solemn view of his first wife’s grave.
Hotter Wheels by Pat Sajak
After forty-two years of hosting one of America’s favorite game shows, if there’s one thing Pat Sajak knows, it’s wheels! Although he is finally retiring after this season, we won’t catch Mr. Sajak lounging by the pool. Rumor has it that he has turned (pun intended) to entrepreneurship and will soon be releasing a line of designer tires for all your moving vehicles. Mr. Sajak was overheard at a party telling a friend that he is just so tired (pun intended) of looking at nothing but black where the rubber meets the road. His tire line will offer the proud vehicle owner a wide choice of colors, including neon and psychedelic stoner designs. The first wheels off the assembly line will be manufactured to fit your average sedan and SUV. If successful, Mr. Sajak plans to expand the line to accommodate multi-wheel semis, mobile homes, wheel chairs, and shopping carts. Stay tuned!
Ballistic Blinis by Vladimir Putin
This is truly breaking news! It’s been confirmed by reliable sources that given the recent attempt at a coup, and uncertainty about the outcome of the next U.S. presidential election, Russian President Vladimir Putin has fast-forwarded his retirement plans. Mr. Putin, who will be seventy-one years old this October, had planned to rig elections in his favor for another five years. However, behind the scenes in his current residence, Putin’s Palace, Putin has been observed sneaking into the kitchen at 2:00 am, bare-chested, with bags of flour. Apparently, he has been trying to replicate an old family recipe from Grandma Shelomova, whose blinis were famous all over Russia in the last century, particularly in her home town of Tver (pronounced Tver). Not wanting to face retirement with nothing to do, it seems Putin is preparing to launch his own food brand, featuring a line of gourmet blinis just like grandma used to make. Sour cream and caviar are optional.
Wunder Wear by Gal Gadot
Disappointed by the less than satisfactory reviews of her second feature film, Israeli actress Gal Gadot has decided not to appear in the next sequel of a sequel of the Wonder Woman franchise. Instead, she is applying her superpowers to the lingerie industry. Victoria’s Secret step aside! To be introduced during fashion week is Ms. Gadot’s daring line of Wunder Bras and bustiers guaranteed to turn every woman into an alluring Greek goddess with extraordinary strength, speed, courage, intelligence, and an ability to change outfits in milliseconds. An exclusive feature of her line of Wunder Panties is a G-string with lie detection capabilities to discover if your significant other is cheating. And for the more conservative gal, look for the Diana Prince line of wasit-high briefs and traditional underwires. Orders of $200 or more come with a free pair of silver bracelets to ward off unwanted advances. If this endeavor is successful Ms. Gadot will launch the Steve Trevor line for men, featuring briefs, boxer shorts, and “Wunder Bros” for guys with that extra jiggle.
So, I think there’s real potential here, and this is just the beginning. I’d be pleased to hear from any of you with additional ideas for celebrity products. Write to me and I’d be happy to spread the word in my next essay.
Or more accurately, skin is out! I will explain.
It’s summer 2023 and this genetically predisposed city kid is once again happily roaming Manhattan’s west side, walking Sam the Dog, and gawking. As a confessed non-reader of fashion magazines or the New York Times Styles section, there is still no place like a big city to discover the current trends in female apparel. The sidewalks are a veritable runway, with scores of young women reflecting what’s hip.
This energetic neighborhood is home to gaggles of young female millennials and Gen Z-ers, but with an adequate number of those of us who look like their chaperones to assure me that I still belong on this planet. I am stumped, however, by how all these 20-somethings can afford the rent. Perhaps that explains why most of these young women are not fully clothed. I will explain.
Two years ago, I wrote about my foray to the west side where I noted that the fashion statement of the day was the belly button. The hot look was crop tops accompanied by bottoms that rested just below the navel. Whether the bottoms were short skirts or baggy cargo pants, exposed midriffs were all the rage.
Well, move over belly button (figuratively speaking, that is). High-waisted pants have made a comeback, so there will be a lot less navel-gazing. In fact, belly buttons seem completely irrelevant when the fashion of the day is all about almost bare boobs, backs, arms, legs and midriffs. 2023 summer-in-the city chic has added a whole new dimension to less is more.
Bras, bikini tops, city shorts and backless blouses are all rage, as well as baggy cargo pants worn with practically nothing on top. And skimpy workout clothes are not limited to the gym.
Who needs a shirt when you have a pretty bra? And if you do wear a blouse, make sure it’s sheer. Feeling slightly more modest today? It’s OK to wear that pretty bra over your tee shirt, especially if it’s chartreuse colored and crocheted. And if that pretty bra comes with a pair of matching city shorts, so much the better.
Want to add some peek-a-boo style? Throw an oversized jacket over that cute little bikini top, but don’t even think about buttoning it!
And once again, as in the summer of the tummy, I’ve noticed that all this nakedness is not limited to the thinnest among us. Even fuller-figured young women dare to bare.
My husband, who is often so deep in thought that he might overlook an escaped elephant walking near the Central Park Zoo, has commented to me that he has never remembered seeing so much skin in an urban setting.
An example: The other evening, as we were walking on a busy avenue, he did not fail to notice a pretty young woman crossing the street wearing something that looked like a two-piece bathing suit. I, too, noticed, as she strutted with confidence and purpose. I wanted to follow her. If there was a beach on the west side of Manhattan that was surely something I would want to know!
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not judging. Merely observing. And poking a little fun. I’m sure if I wrote a note to my younger self, I would tell her to go for it! Being modest is for sissies!
But I think I understand how the rent is getting paid. When your wardrobe needs are limited to underwear, bathing suit tops, and workout wear, there’s likely room in the budget for food as well. At least until winter arrives!
Another season, another reason to vacate Florida for the cooler climes of the northeast. As lovely as it is to have the good fortune to spend the winter months where scarves and gloves are not required, I feel equally fortunate to be able to leave when the temperature and humidity are responsible for an unending succession of bad hair days. I’m happy to say we survived another transition, arrived safely, and have been busy resettling, and wondering why we keep shlepping all this stuff back and forth! Oh, well. So, you now have my excuse for not coming up with a new essay at this time. But here’s one from 2016 that’s as true today as it was then with a few updates. And the grandkids referred to below? They’re now driving themselves to the beach, hopefully with a tube of sun block.
Summer Is a Bummer
Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of nostalgia. My capacity for fondly recounting the good old days is about half a cup. Sure, I have pleasant memories of growing up in the 40s and 50s, but I’m not about to initiate a petition for the return of Howdy Dowdy or lobby the fashion industry to bring back poodle skirts.
And, while I do miss Archie and Jughead, I don’t get sentimental when reminded of what the price of gasoline used to be, or that a movie ticket used to cost 25 cents.
While I pride myself at being a forward-thinking kind of gal, I must confess that this past Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of a new season, and the hot weather, did combine to trigger images of childhood, and a good, old-fashioned, unfettered Summer!
Whatever happened to the summers of my youth?
I really do miss them. I miss the anticipation of them. The arrival of June, the end of school, the extended hours of daylight, more time to spend outdoors.
While I still enjoy the extended hours of daylight, my appreciation is now more often from behind a screen door. Summers used to be carefree. Now they are hazardous to your health.
It’s hard to enjoy summer when you are repeatedly reminded of all of the risks that come with warm weather. How can I possibly find the same pleasures of the season when I feel I must carry my garbage to the outdoor bin wearing a hazmat suit?
When did summer become dangerous? Blame COVID-19, global warming, or the thinning of the ozone layer, but daring to walk out the front door unprotected feels like extreme risk-taking behavior. Perhaps that’s why I experience an adrenaline rush if I go to my mailbox without a hat on.
And the beach? A real downer. My inner child longs to run freely in and out of the water, and build elaborate sandcastles complete with moats. But my outer older person threatens with more age spots and/or a trip to the dermatologist if I don’t remain under the umbrella. Among my beach equipment is a tape measure to ensure that I am at least six feet away from the nearest beach blanket. And mask-wearing does result in a weird suntan.
Would I consider a drive in a convertible? Never. At least not until the sun goes down. And even with the top up, one is not safe. I’ve learned that bad rays can penetrate glass. Therefore, I’m seriously considering window treatments for my car.
And when it comes to applying sun protection, perhaps someone can help me with the proper protocol. Do I apply my sun block before or after I rub on my skin moisturizer? If I apply my moisturizer first, will that prevent my sun block from working? But if I apply my sun block first, will that prevent my moisturizer from plumping up my wrinkles?
In any event, there are now two layers of lotion on my face before I even put on my makeup. It’s no wonder that I walk around for the rest of the day feeling like a stick of butter.
And remember when mosquito bites were simply that? Annoying little itchy bumps that would subside in a couple of days? Since malaria was not a serious threat for those of us growing up in Bensonhurst, mosquitoes, while never our friends, were not to be feared. And insects did not dictate how we dressed.
But in summer I am told that I must be cautious about the Zika virus. I have been warned to cover up and use insect repellent. Tell me, do I spray this on before or after sun block and skin moisturizer?
One expert even suggested we wear mosquito netting to cover our faces. Hey, why not? It’s the perfect fashion accessory for the surgical mask worn to protect us from air pollution and Covid.
And in the good old summertime, who ever heard of ticks? Ticks were a sound made by my grandfather’s pocket watch. But I must also cover up and spray to prevent Lyme disease. So that’s me, in 90-degree weather, walking my dog in an outfit that looks like I’m about to embark on a ski vacation.
Maybe I should invest in that hazmat suit after all. I wonder, is it a one size fits all, and does it come in a choice of colors?
I admit summer still has some pleasures. I do look forward to fresh picked corn, luscious tomatoes, and
juicy summer fruit. However, please don’t mind if I graciously decline that outdoor picnic for the safety and security of a screened porch.
But as I watch my grandchildren from said screen porch thoroughly enjoying their summer, and their mother chasing them with a tube of sun block, another thought occurs to me. Summer hasn’t changed at all. I have. Summer has always had its perils, but to be concerned about them was the responsibility of the adults.
I can recall my own mother’s hesitance to venture out from under the umbrella when she reluctantly consented to go to the beach, something as I child I could never comprehend. Today, that shade-seeking grown-up is me.
About the Author
Susan is the author of two award-winning collections of humorous personal essays: “How Old Am I in Dog Years?” and “How to Complain When There’s Nothing to Complain About.” Check out her Author Page HERE.