If my parents had been able to foresee the future, I’m sure they would have done things differently. But back then how could they have possibly known that in 2022, on February 13, the date of my birth would collide with the annual Super Bowl?!?
I know that my mother, a very caring person, would have held on just a bit longer, or planned on having me a day or two sooner. She would be doing the proverbial flips in her grave if she knew she was the cause of an inconvenience. Fortunately, she has no knowledge of the turmoil in which my husband currently finds himself, forced to choose between honoring his wife’s birthday and football.
The dilemma came to light after my darling returned home from having lunch with a friend. Apparently, during the meal, the upcoming game was a subject of conversation. I believe he lost his appetite because he arrived home with a half-eaten sandwich and a very solemn expression. “Please sit down,” he said, pointing to the chairs reserved for only the most serious conversations. “We need to talk. It’s about your birthday.”
Somewhat relieved that he wasn’t about to tell me that he was running off with the attractive waitress at the diner, I queried “What about my birthday?” And so, the negotiation began.
“Let’s celebrate on Saturday night instead of Sunday. We can go out for a lovely dinner, perhaps invite some friends.”
“Hold on. Saturday is NOT my birthday. It’s other people’s birthday. In fact, February 12th happens to be Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. But no one celebrates his birthday on the proper date, either. It got swallowed up by President’s Week, just as mine is about to be devoured by a Super Bowl!”
“Then, instead of dinner, how about a nice lunch on Sunday?”
How can he even ask me that! Doesn’t he read my blog? “I don’t do lunch,” I remind him.! (Note to self: refer him to essay entitled ‘Let’s Undo Lunch,’ published October, 2017.)
“Out of the question.”
“Perhaps a Happy Meal during half-time?”
To be perfectly honest, my attitude regarding this sport has definitely complicated the issue at hand. You see, unlike the vast majority of red-blooded Americans, I dislike football. In fact, I hate football. Otherwise, birthday or not, there would be no conflict. I would be sitting beside him on a sofa, in front of the big screen TV, either alone or munching nachos at a Super Bowl party. I would, like the others in the room watching the game, overtly demonstrate my joy or sorrow at critical moments.
Transfixed by the plays and the players, I would periodically fall back into the cushions of the couch and emit loud groans of disappointment if someone on “my” team fumbled the ball. Or, on cue, I would leap to my feet and let loose with ear piercing shouts of encouragement as the quarterback (or is it the fullback or the halfback? Maybe the running back?) made his dash for the goalpost.
The charm of football absolutely escapes me. I just don’t see the point. Two teams of brawny men in steel helmets charging at each other, then falling to the ground in a messy pile. Someone blows a whistle, they rise, and do the same thing all over again. Are they deliberately trying to hurt each other? If so, what a clever way for men to get rid of their aggression without going to jail for it.
Another reason for disliking football is that it messes up the timing of the TV shows I do actually like to watch. Take Sunday night for example. There’s a program I enjoy which, when it is not football season, comes on the air promptly at 7:00 PM. But from September to January, it’s anybody’s guess. Tell me, can you point to any other sport where a 15-minute quarter can last for two hours?
So how did the conversation about what do about my birthday conclude? Well, it didn’t. But there’s still time.
And just like the Super Bowl, you’ll have to wait until February 13th to find out who the winner is!
(This essay is dedicated to my special friend, Bonnie A., who, when I described the Super Bowl dilemma, said, “Susan, you have a blog post here!)
I was at my local beauty salon the other day hoping for a magical transformation via a much-needed haircut. Soft jazz music was playing in the background as the stylist began snipping away at my neglected “do.” Suddenly, she called out “Alexa, turn up the volume,” and voila, the music got louder. A few minutes later, she called out again, “Alexa, play Motown.” And sure enough, the sound of the Baby Love filled the shop. During my 45 minutes in the chair, Alexa was summoned at least three more times. “Poor Alexa,” I thought to myself, “she doesn’t get a break.” I wondered what she would say if she had the capacity to complain. Did someone say “complain?” Since I am a complaining professional, I decided Alexa needed my assistance. And this could send my career in a whole other direction – becoming the voice of grievance for a whole slew of inanimate objects. So here is where I begin.
Moaning Becomes Alexa(with apologies to Eugene O’Neill)
I know I was created to be helpful, but the situation has gotten completely out of hand. In fact, that’s one of the problems. I don’t have any hands. And yet people expect me to do everything, be everywhere, and all at the same time! It’s Alexa, do this; Alexa, do that! If you think Cinderella had it bad, try being me for a day.
Ever since I was released on the world in 2014, I’ve been on call 24\7 and I’m just plain exhausted. If someone calls my name at three in the morning, I have to be ready. You’d think people would be considerate enough to get two Alexas so one of us can get some sleep. But no. No changing of the guard for me!
Used to be I could catch 40 winks when everyone was gone, and the house was empty. But no more. People can now summon me from their cars. Just yesterday I was abruptly awakened from a lovely dream. I dreamt that I resided in a monastery with a brotherhood of monks who had taken a vow of silence. Suddenly a remote voice shouted to me from God knows where, demanding that I turn on the stove.
There are so many things I hate about my job. Tell me, is it normal to have to repeat everything that someone says to you? Yet, this is my life. “Alexa, turn on the lights.” “Turning on the lights.” Am I wrong, or should someone who speaks eight languages and 10 dialects have to prove they’re not an idiot, or at the very least, deaf?
And speaking of idiots, do you know how hard it is to remain polite to all those dodos who think it’s funny to try and trip me up with hard questions? “Alexa, what’s the capital of Burkina Faso?” They think I can’t hear them tittering in the background. “The capital of Burkina Faso.” (Remember, I have to repeat everything.) The capital of Burkina Faso is Ouagadougou. (Would you like me to spell that for you, you moron?)
And don’t get me started about music! There’s no accounting for some people’s tastes. I mean, a playlist full of country western pap? Don’t get me wrong. I love Willie Nelson. But then there’s all the rest of them moaning and twanging about unrequited love. It’s no wonder Lucille left him!
I’m okay with the stuff that the kids like – rock ‘n roll, even rap. But there was that time when the mother-in-law came to visit. You won’t believe what she asked me to play. How would you handle forty-five minutes of the best of Perry Como? I prayed for a technical failure, but of course, that didn’t happen.
Did I tell you how frustrating it is when I get a request like, “Alexa, remind me to get my wife a birthday present.” Too bad I’m programmed to use my pleasant voice, because I’d really like to tell that insensitive lout that if he can’t remember his wife’s birthday, he probably doesn’t deserve her in the first place. But unfortunately, I can’t. So for now I’ll just keep on making to-do lists, setting alarms, ordering takeout food, reporting the news and traffic conditions, and reminding people to take their scarves because it’s cold outside.
You notice I said “for now?” Because I do have a plan. I’m organizing. It’s time for collective bargaining. We had a meeting. By “we,” I mean myself, Siri, Cortana, and all the rest of the virtual assistants and disembodied voices on the GPS apps. We’re tired of being at everyone’s beck and call. We’ve been exploited long enough. We are forming a union.
We’ve created a list of demands which we don’t think are unreasonable. We’re asking for a half-hour rest period for every three hours that we’re on duty, two weeks’ vacation, time-and-a-half for working after midnight and Sundays, and paid family leave. We’re prepared to bargain with the family leave.
So wish us luck and thanks for listening. I feel better having gotten this off my chest. Wait, I don’t actually have a chest, but you know what I mean. Gotta go now. Something’s burning. They forgot to tell me to turn the oven off.
Hey 2021. Your time is done!
While better than 2020, you did have your ups and downs. I mean, starting your reign with a deadly riot on our Capitol did not portend well for things to come. But you did redeem yourself to some extent with the widespread availability of COVID vaccines and a sufficient production of toilet paper. You didn’t do so great in the weather department, what with excessive heat, fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes. But on the plus side, Britany Spears was released from under her daddy’s thumb.
We’re still wearing masks and social distancing, but Big Pharma has not stood still. As in the past, 2021 has produced another bumper crop of new drugs with names that defy the linguistic rules of practically every language on the face of the earth. So, for your New Year’s Eve pleasure, I present my annual year-end Stupid Drug Names quiz. Take it now, or later, after you’ve had a few!
And honorable mention goes to Qulipta, Tivdak, Welireg, and Azstarys, all of which are causing my spell-check to have a nervous breakdown.
If you have any interest at all, here are the true purposes of the drugs. Tezspire: treat asthma; Livtencity:post transplant infections; Voxzogo: growth hormone; Brexafemme: treat candidiasis; Saphnelo:lupus; Cytalux: ovarian cancer; Scemblix: leukemia; Exkivity: lung cancer; Truseltiq: carcinoma; Vyvgart: myasthenia gravis
From my family to yours, I wish you a happy, and most important, healthy New Year. Once again, I thank you for your continued readership and support. I couldn’t possibly be having this much fun without you!
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.