Decisiveness is a critical ability we each must develop to navigate life successfully.
By the time we are 50 we have to be able to size up data guickly—almost intuitively–and make snap decisions on the spot on important matters. And never look back at what might have been.
Like just now, after exactly 3 months of dieting and low-intensity weight training 7-9 minutes a day (including breaks) 3 or 4 days a week, I have lost 16 lbs and cut 4 inches off my waistline.
And I have just decided, this moment, that I WILL continue with this health regimen but I WILL NOT ever compete in a 50 and older male bodybuilding competition.
This is a perfect example of making two critical life decisons –one TO DO something and the other NOT TO DO something–and decide decisively on both in just a matter of minutes.
And never look back at what might have been.
When I first started publishing my weekly political comedy videos on youTube, I knew I was tackling some fairly sensitive issues. But I still wasn’t prepared for the deluge of hate comments I would get, calling me horrid names, casting aspersions on my character, and wishing all sorts of misfortune on me. At first I was quite distraught – until I realized that the meaner the comments, the worse the spelling and grammar.
In the immortal words of Mark Twain, “All generalizations are false – including this one.” But it’s hard not to jump to general conclusions when so much outrage on the far right seems to lack basic language skills. Which is why I was thoroughly entertained by the recent standoff in Nevada over rancher Cliven Bundy’s refusal to pay over $1 million in grazing fees, taxes and fines. Don’t get me wrong, the prospect of hundreds of well-armed crazed militia-types aiming at government officials is pretty horrifying. But their firm stance was a bit undermined by protest signs refusing to “surve” under a “facsist” government imposing “Marshall law.”
I know not everyone grew up with an English teacher for a mother, so most people are not horrified by split infinitives, but I like to think basic skills are still important – there’s no spell-check program for a hand-written protest sign. And the poorly spelled signs are a pretty good metaphor for a mis-informed faux rebellion (Bundy refuses to recognize the federal government and claims he’ll only obey the laws of the state of Nevada – I guess he forgot to read the Nevada state constitution which explicitly defers to that same federal government). But if we’re all dispensing with accuracy, what the heck – this suburban Jewish mother can turn into a faux country star to sing about it!
New laptop equipment.
I am thinking of going to the Apple store –but not to get a new laptop. I often decide after 6 or 9 months with a laptop that I need a new one because I am not getting the most out of my current laptop.
No….This time I am going to see if the Apple store is selling a cool, hip and tech -savvy user that I can buy to operate my laptop.
That would solve my real problem–which isn’t having an inadequate laptop but having an inadequate user using my laptop.
I know such a Macperson would be expensive–especially at Apple and with the Apple Care program I would probably have to purchase with him.
But over time I think this could save me a lot of time and money in reduced laptop turnover.
Our planet’s one great differentiator.
If there are other–and more advanced planets–in our universe, they may well be smarter and more technologically advanced and may even have wiped out disease, but there is no way that any planet has faster drive-thru service at fast food restaurants than we do here on planet Earth.
Today is April 20th.
And I am really excited.
It’s not a holiday or my birthday or anyone else’s birthday who is really close to me. In fact, nothing special has ever happened to me on April 9th –in 50 years.
But it’s about time something did.
Daddy’s little helpers
A regular cup of coffee used to be enough to get me going in the morning but nowadays I need a large coffee with a shot of espressp at around 645am and to be late going somewhere by 655am.
Being late causes my body to excrete cortisal and adrenaline –and is cheaper than Starbucks–and by 7am I am super amped up and damn near frantic.
And ready to greet the day.
Today, for my success strategy, I am going to try to tap into my inner Forrest Gump.
About as perfect as I will ever be… is to be imperfect with my sleeves rolled up.
Which is a good definition of being perfectly human. And trying to do a little better.
Being over 50 is a lot like being the owner of a retail store and suspecting that a certain product should be discounted—but not discounting it and hoping no one notices.
Some things –like what you notice is listed at the bottom on your iPod–you hope others don’t notice, too.
I admit it. I downloaded “U Cry.” And listen to it sometimes when no one else is around.
1) I can’t remember the other thing I forgot to do yesterday.
2) Oh, yeah, that was it.
3) Ooh! That reminded me of the other two things I had forgotten
4) I can’t believe he had the nerve to say that to me in at the meeting this morning…asshole…but I’m not going to say anything but he was being an asshole.
5) I need to workout again at some point. Maybe tomorrow. Or Saturday. Or sometime soon.
6) I’m starting to get hungry.
7) Need to listen to my voice mail messages.
8) Why is it taking them so long to get such a simple answer to a simple question?
9) Oh God! I am a nervous wreck about…something…oh yeah, paying for college for my daughter– 2 and a half years from now. That’s a ways off, though …But still….
10) I hope my wife appreciates how hard I work and all the things I worry about during the day. I don’t think she fully appreciates all the stress I am under.
11) God, that guy really was an ass this morning. Maybe I should say something to him.
12) I am probably going to need to get an extension on my taxes this year.
13) I’m getting really hungry now.
14) I hope I don’t get attacked by a gang if I go out for lunch. Zoe’s Kitchen is probably pretty low risk.
15) My life isn’t really as stressful as I want my wife to believe it is –if I am really honest with myself–but I want her to think it is anyway.
Tonight my wife and daughter and I couldn’t decide if we should order room service for dinner or go out. We decided, since we were in Boca Raton, to go out –to our favorite Italian restaurant after driving by the old apartment complex where Rebecca and I lived briefly when we were newlyweds in the early 90s. I was fresh out of law school and working for Kenny Rogers Roasters. It was an exciting time in our lives and our son was born in a Boca Hospital just down the road from our apartment a few months before we moved back to Kentucky.
Lots has happened since then and tonight our daughter was with us and we wanted to share our memories with her. Unfortunately, our favorite Italian restaurant was no longer around but we found an excellent substitute, Trattoria Romana, a 4 1/2 star restaurant nearby. The problem was we were looking a little ragged and unkempt after driving 5 hours from Key West. We were wearing sweatpants and, in my case, was unshaven and wearing a rumpled shirt. But we were determined to retrace our steps the best we could for old times sake.
As we walked into the elegant restaurant we could tell we stood out in an awkward and uncomfortable way. We felt like the Beverly Hillbillies had just walked into the Boca Raton country club and at any minute we would be asked to leave. We joked among ourselves that maybe we were making other people uncomfortable that they may had overdressed tonight. After some uncomfortable self-conscious banter we were seated. Not beside the kitchen door–which was what I expected– but in a secluded corner tucked away from visibility from anyone save the waiter. It was obvious but not offensive if were willing to suspend disbelief long enough to get through an appetizer and entree.
We continued to chuckle and joke among ourselves as the waiter brought bruschetta to our table. I tried to eat the bruschetta while ordering but ended up dribbling oily chunks of tomato in an orderly pile beside my plate instead of inside my mouth. My daughter was laughing almost uncontrollably at how deftly I was fulfilling the stereotype we assumed our waiter had of us–and I wasn’t being self-deprecating. Just self-fulfilling.
I wanted to play it up with the waiter and ask if they served possum and grits. But I didn’t. We ordered rigatoni and ravioli, two entrees easy enough to pronounce–and split the two entrees among the three of us. So far, so good. We skipped dessert and asked for the check before something really embarrassing happened.
As we slinked out I joked with Rebecca and Maggie that maitre ‘d was probably expressing relief that we were leaving quietly and not creating a spectacle. We laughed again amongst ourselves and filed in line behind several older regulars at the restaurant who were chatting and chuming it up loudly and proudly–and a little intoxicated. One, a distinguished looking man of about 70, turned to me and peering over his bifocals couldn’t decide if he should give me his car parking stub or not. So he just held it out in my direction in an uncommitted way so that if I were the valet I would know to take it but if I wasn’t it would look like he was just making it known he had a parking stub but wasn’t directing it at anyone in particular.
I was laughing to myself at yet another slight– but also, by this time, getting a little irritated. So I responded by pulling out my parking stub and offering it to the distinguished 70 year old man. “Could you, uh, please get my…Oh wait! I’m sorry” And then the man’s friend interjected laughing, “He thought you were the valet and tried to give you his parking stub” We laughed together and I said I would be happy to get their car if they were good tippers and not in a particular hurry.
Then some other friends from their party came out and we tried to chat but one of the other gentleman, also about 70 and distinguished looking, said to his group just loudly enough for us to hear, “Open the door and anyone can walk in.” He was referring, apparently, to us–the riffraff in sweatpants and, in my case, unshaven and with a rumpled shirt.
I thought to myself. “Surely, he’s not referring to us.” But my wife and daughter assured me he was.
I looked at him agog and thought to myself, “What do you say to that?” I didn’t say anything. And at that moment the valet pointed to where our car was parked across the lot rather than deliver it to us. We, staying consistent, only had $1 of cash left and used it as our tip. I was very discrete in handing it off hoping the valet would think he got a larger single bill than a $1 and wouldn’t notice until we had pulled off the property.
The drive back home we joked about our dinner experience as outcasts and I tried to think of something clever I wished I had said to the man who made the rude comment about opening the door and anyone walking in. But nothing at all came to me. Which confused me. I am usually good at telling people off after they offend me and I am driving home having an imaginary conversation with them and putting them in their place. I was offended but other than fantasizing what it would have felt like to punch him (which, of course, I didn’t), I couldn’t come up with a clever or funny retort. And didn’t really even want to. It just felt like any way I could respond to such a rude comment would automatically devalue me more rather than put the other person in his place. (Especially if I haven’t shaved.)
And that, I suppose, is the lesson I learned tonight.
In the future when I go to a nice restaurant, I will try to dress more appropriately. If I do that I won’t feel as awkward and have to make inside and self-deprecating jokes about myself. Or pretend I don’t know who the valet is. And if someone treats me rudely by making an insulting remark, there’s nothing I need to say at all in response. Just let it lie and leave it with the rude person un-responded to. And just fantasize about punching the rude guy in the face (even though I really don’t) as I drive off the lot–after tipping the valet $1.
Key West, Florida… Forever and always the year ’round spring break city for ages 18 to 88–but a city that really isn’t a city at all and more like a narrow corridor off of an alcove off of some real city (but nobody is sure which one) that just happens to be located somewhere between an ocean beach and the end of the world.
It’s a real place where real characters like Ernest Hemingway once briefly lived but feels more like an imaginary place where imaginary characters like Jack Sparrow would permanently live, if he was real.
The daily rumblings of the town aren’t anything like back home and resemble instead something akin to an outdoor rave–the morning after the actual rave. And the evenings are like the night after a bad hangover after you have been resuscitated with a hair-of-the-dog concoction.
And as shady and delirious (even if you are sober, like me) as all this might sound, it is kind of wonderful and mysterious, too. And even restorative –in a kind of mischievous and decadent way.
Time seems to stand still –or at least move in slow motion– not because nothing is happening but because the locale is so disconnected from anyplace where workaday things are happening you forget the need to keep track of time. Which is such an unusual–and enlivening– sensation to experience in our hustle-bustle nation.
And so glad to have found a place where, for a few days, you can remember what life is like without the push and pressures of ticking clocks in this narrow corridor off of an alcove of some city in this mysterious but wonderful place somewhere between an ocean beach and the end of the world.
Things that can happen in Key West…
While waiting for a Cuban coffee you can overhear an older white-haired Irish-looking man introduce himself to the mail carrier as “Tip O’Neill’s nephew.”
And you can wait for the mailman to leave and introduce yourself and tell the man you overheard him say he was related to Tip O’Neill and wanted to say how much you admired the personalized approach his uncle had to politics and think often of the story of President Ronald Reagan getting shot and the first person to visit him in the hospital was the democratic Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, and the two men talked and prayed together–and how you wish we could someday get back to those times in American politics.
Things one thinks to oneself while in Key West:
“Do you realize you are 50 years old and have never been to a transvestite show?”
Dolphin art show
What we did tonight instead of going to the transvestite show–next door
Dolphins are great and all, don’t get me wrong. But they aren’t fabulous!
New thing I learned tonight in Key West….
Even if you are a blissfully happily married 50 year old man, it is still nice to be checked out by a younger woman.
Even after you realize it is actually a younger man who is dressed up as a women.
Feminism is a complicated, messy topic, and if you ask 3 women about it, you’re likely to get 4 different answers. Some women don’t want to define themselves as feminist because it sounds anti-male, others disagree about how much sexism and discrimination exists, and you can always count on folks like Rush Limbaugh to disparage ‘feminazis’ as freeloading sluts who want Uncle Sugar to provide unlimited birth control and abortion on demand. And it’s a tricky issue around my house – my 17-year-old son feels like girls get all the breaks because he’s experienced classic educational bias against boys (everything from early school environments being more conducive to how girls learn, to a cliche-but-real male-hating gym teacher who informed them during the square dance unit that ‘the girls had her permission to slap the boys around if they messed up, because everyone knows boys can’t dance’). My 20-year-old started dancing at age 4, and he was teased mercilessly about it (until high school, when his classmates saw how cute the girls were in dance class, not to mention the revealing dancewear).
So I know there are ways in which it’s harder to be male. But I still believe women have not completely caught up – as the old expression goes, like ballroom dancers, we’re doing everything guys do, but backward and in high heels. (Note to my husband – that expression started as a cartoon about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and then was popularized by former Texas Governor Ann Richards. It did NOT originate as a line for Angel in Rent. But I digress . . . ) And as far as whether or not to use the dreaded ‘f’ word, I love the way writer Caitlin Moran summed it up in her book, How To Be A Woman: “Here is a quick way of working out if you’re a feminist. Do you have a vagina? And do you want to be in charge of it? If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations, you’re a feminist.”
Sure, we’ve come a long way, baby (and we no longer need ‘our own cigarette’ using that phrase . . . please tell me SOMEONE else remembers those hideous ads for Virginia Slims!) But we still have a long way to go, whether it’s the pay gap or minor cost differences at dry cleaners. And many male politicians seem to want to go backwards, whether it’s Todd Akin-type idiocy about pregnancy, Mike Huckabee explaining “Men like to hunt and fish together, and women like to go to the restroom together,” or the Texas legislature permitting concealed firearms in sessions but banning tampons and sanitary pads for fear of them being thrown in protest against an abortion ban (yes, that really happened).
So here’s a musical reminder to these misogynist guys that outdated attitudes towards women just might affect how we vote.
A smartphone “couples” app I’d like to see.
I’ve got an app to count calories and steps taken in a day.
Other apps help me gauge my business travel and finances and even help me manage dietary choices.
But what I could really use is an app that would help me determine how long I need to pout to equal or “get even” for undeserved slights from my wife Rebecca. For example, if Rebecca says “You never do such and such” when, in fact, I do occasionally do such and such –I just don’t do such and such all of the time– that is worth approximately 5-7 minutes of pouting.
How do I know?
That’s the problem.
It’s just a gut feel.
And if I overestimate the necessary pouting length, that can lead to a retaliatory slight from Rebecca to level set things. Which then leads to another pout and another slight and so on.
Hence why an app that could tell me more accurately how long I should pout would be so handy. And like all good apps, it should be cross-functional allowing Rebecca to calibrate the precise counter slight for when I over pout.
Idea for a new reality TV show
“Survivor: For Real”
Twelve companies that provide online services (e.g. reservations, etc) –and then make it nearly impossible to ever reach a human by phone and, if you do, it is only to talk to a well-trained call center worker who has memorized every conceivable polite way of telling you you will get absolutely no help— will have their CEOs and call center employees transported to a marooned island with no food or shelter or cell phones.
Also on the island are the frustrated customers of these 12 companies and they will have much more food and shelter than they need –as well as having cell phones. But this group will be unable to talk live to any of the CEOs or call center workers who are begging for food and shelter because they will be on their cell phones and can’t be bothered. But they will be very polite about explaining why they can’t talk or help right now. And tell them to have a nice day and ask if they would agree to participate in a customer service survey.
The ensuing fun will be something most every viewer will be able to appreciate.