Help Wanted: Bon Vivant


Wanted: Self-starter for the position of raconteur, bon vivant and all around Renaissance woman.

Job duties to include:

  • Exploring…life.
  • Writing…when the muse strikes.
  • Strolling… a beach, hiking a trail or striding down city streets.
  • Partying… hearty. An almost bacchanalian appreciation for good food and wine required.
  • Contemplating… the meaning of life and one’s belly button in equal measure. Best accomplished stretched out in a hammock.
  • Sleeping…late. Occasionally announcing your intention to rise and greet the dawn gives as many brownie points as actually doing it.
  • Singing & dancing…enthusiasm more important than ability.
  • Traveling…first class and all expenses paid to fun and exotic locations.
  • Reading… whenever and whatever you want.
  • Watching…chick flicks, Fellini art films, trashy TV, etc. Must be able to express opinions on a wide variety of cultural topics, from the sublime to the Real Housewives.
  • Hobnobbing…with fascinating people.

Ideal candidate will possess the following qualifications:

  • Gently seasoned. Old enough to have been around some; young enough to be able to get around some.
  • Eager to learn new things.
  • Willing to set out at a moment’s notice for the next adventure. Said adventure is guaranteed NOT to involve roughing it at a level below three Michelin stars, activities that cause up-chuckery, or rats and bugs.
  • Able to speak several foreign languages.  Willingness to fake it by speaking English with a foreign accent is just as good.
  • Smart enough to realize you’re not that smart.
  • Able to laugh, long and hard, at yourself and those around you.

Salary: commiserate with whatever your little heart desires.

Perfect employee in search of ideal job.  Potential employers encouraged to send offers care of this blog.  

What’s your ideal job?



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How To Avoid Being A Clueless Dolt This Graduation Season

Photo of “The Graduate” courtesy of “The Graduate”. Funny how that works.


Three generations of alumni attended my nephew’s graduation at Michigan State University.   We linked arms as we sang the school song.  I looked around the auditorium and tears filled my eyes as I realized…most of the people there were clueless dolts.

Another graduation season is upon us.  Here’s how NOT to be a clueless dolt.

To Go Or Not To Go

You’ve been invited to a family member’s graduation ceremony.  Unless you live on a remote island and the supply boat is not due back for 3 months, you are expected to be there.  You can’t use your busy schedule as an excuse.  It’s May.  EVERYONE has graduations, weddings, first communions and other events booked 3 to a weekend.

The key point to consider is if one of your OWN children will soon be:

1)  graduating 
2) having their First Communion or Bar Mitzvah 

3)  getting married

If your kid is in 4th grade, you’re probably going through a dry spell as far as major life events.  You might be able to blow everyone off for a couple of years without serious repercussions.  The closer it is to your D-Day, however, the more compelling the argument for attendance.  The only way to ensure attendees bearing checks at your party, is to go to everyone else’s shindig.

A family member will rarely challenge you directly for missing their event, but it will never be forgotten.  Years from now, you and your sister will be rocking side by side on the porch at Happy Acres Nursing Home.  One random remark about her son Joey and the fact that you missed his graduation will be thrown in your face.  The years of pent up resentment will erupt like a puss-filled boil being lanced.

The Pomp Is A Victim Of Circumstances

Many seem to be unaware of the protocol at a graduation ceremony.

1)  Dress code:  A graduation is a fairly dressy event.  This is the time to shine with your good flip-flops and relatively clean Budweiser T-shirt.  If you get a rug burn on your butt-cheeks from the auditorium seats, your Daisy Dukes are probably too short for this occasion.

2)  Speakers: Unless you’ll be at the few schools who have booked the President or Kim Kardashian, the speaker will be a big donor.  He will relate, in excruciating detail, how he started with nothing but a diploma and wound up with a chain of 20 car-washes.  Resign yourself to 1-1/2 hours of mind-numbing boredom.   Always introduce yourself to your neighbor before snoozing on his shoulder.  Under NO circumstances is it acceptable to bring a pillow to the ceremony.

3) Cheering:  You are proud of your young relative, and rightly so.  When he walks across the stage and accepts his diploma, make sure you have stopped jumping up and down, whistling, cheering and blowing air-horns by the time 2, or at most 3 more graduates have followed him across the stage.  I am a stickler on this point.  After all, we want to be considerate.

4) I’ve got mine:   Thank goodness your last name is “Aarons” and not “Zombrowski.”  Your kid is done and you can leave.  As you and your 24 relatives stand to gather up belongings and screaming young children, as you step over the other attendees to get to the aisle, make sure you duck down a couple of inches.  This conveys to the people behind you, who just missed seeing THEIR graduate get her diploma because of your mass exodus, that you feel bad for them.

Party Hearty

A graduation party is as American as apple pie.  It’s a coming together of young and old, neighbors, friends and relatives, all there to celebrate a momentous occasion in the young person’s life.  (Like weddings used to be before bridezillas decided they would prefer destination weddings that make it impossible for guests who are old, poor or have young children to attend.)

If the party is at someone’s house, prepare to dine at folding tables set up in their garage.  On the plus side, you’re assured of a smorgasbord of yummy, homemade desserts.  On the down side, you may end up with questionable potato salad,  resulting in 100 guests urgently queuing up to use 1-1/2 bathrooms.

If the party is at a restaurant, make sure you find out ahead of time who is paying for the meal.   I cannot stress this enough.  A discreet question could have saved everyone embarrassment at a family graduation I attended.    It wasn’t until the waitress brought the bill that I discovered my sister and her husband were picking up the tab.  Imagine how I felt when I found out I could have ordered surf & turf instead of splitting a burger with another thrifty relative?

The Gift

This is a minefield.  The problem is figuring out the right dollar amount.  Should you give more for high school and less for college, or vice-versa?

The question is complicated if you have already had some graduations in the family.  Do you remember what you gave somebody 5 years ago?  I don’t.  But I guarantee your sister-in-law knows to the penny.  If one kid gets more than the other, there will be holy hell to pay.

You don’t want to get the reputation as a cheapskate.   But you also don’t want to give your niece twice what your miserly brother will give your kid.

For friends, you just have to wing it.  For family, I suggest a conference.  Hammer out the terms beforehand – establish a pay scale so there are no surprises.  Just make sure you get buy-in from all the siblings.

A Word About 8th Grade Graduation

While 8th grade graduation is certainly a milestone, it’s not really much of an accomplishment.  Parents who don’t force their children to at least finish grade school face charges of negligence in most jurisdictions.  A new outfit, a little cake, and a few pictures are nice.  If you go for a limo and an all-night party at a fancy hotel you look like a self-important twit who is spoiling his poor child rotten in an attempt to impress the other parents.

Armed with my practical advice, you should have no problem sailing through this graduation season.  And if you do find yourself dashed on the rocks of graduation etiquette, just send up a flare and I will arrive with the life raft of my valuable opinion.  Just keep bailing.

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My Feelings for Smokey The Bear Are So Wrong

Come on baby light my fire.

Come on baby light my fire.

He’s just my type.  Muscles in strong, broad shoulders flex as he wields a shovel. He had to take his shirt off because all that hard work got him hotter than a four-alarm brush fire.  A bead of sweat glides down chiseled abs which are lightly dusted with hair.   OK, maybe ”lightly dusted” is an understatement since he’s a walking, talking fur coat.

When did they turn Smokey The Bear into a sex symbol?

When I was a kid, Smokey was a kindly authority figure.   His human traits made him seem like a paunchy, middle-aged, Junior-high geography teacher.   This new, furry stud-muffin is taking animal magnetism to a disturbing level.


Madison Avenue has given makeovers to a lot of familiar product mascots.   They’re going for edgy and turning up the sexy like never before to appeal to the modern buyer.


Tony_the_Tiger_1955It’s obvious that Tony the Tiger has been spending a lot of time in the gym lately. His formerly wimpy physique has been pumped up with impossibly broad shoulders above a waist so tiny it would put Scarlett O’Hara to shame.  I’ve heard rumors of steroid abuse.



Mr. Clean has always been the strong-man-at-the-circus type. But his new computer-animated persona matches that prison-yard body with a jovial, old-grandpa-with-n0-wrinkles face in a manner best described as really creepy.



Even the Scrubbing Bubbles have gotten into the act. Formerly asexual, one of the bubbles is now clearly female. Her long lashes do nothing to hide the come-scrub-me look in her knowing eyes.


The Honey Nut Cheerios bee has taken up break dancing, Betty Crocker has had her lips plumped and Cap’n Crunch is drug running for a Colombian cartel.



It’s hard to know how far this trend will go, but I don’t think it will end well. Just today it was announced that beloved cartoon characters Chip and Dale are in negotiations to be spokesmunks for a new line of “adult” potato chips.


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Feeling Shiny and New

How did your experience go with finding the “new” in life?  Remember, yesterday I challenged each one of you to do 3 new things.  Here’s what I did:

Ymap21) To get to the YMCA after work, I usually head west on 4th, then go north on Prospect, then right on 10th.  Yesterday I went north on BUCKLIN, then west on SHOOTING PARK, then SOUTH on Prospect.

2) Usually I turn into the YMCA parking lot and then go inside to workout.  Yesterday I drove PAST the YMCA and did NOT go in to workout.

3) I headed to Kentucky Fried Chicken where I usually get a bucket of Original Recipe.  Yesterday I got EXTRA CRISPY.

I feel like a brand, new woman.

OK, technically #2 isn’t all that new.  I’ve been blowing off the Y so often lately it would be more new-ish if I actually went in, regardless of the direction traveled.

Skip #2 and substitute that I visited a new (to me) blog, The Lighter Side of Life, and checked out how Troy gave the Great Books treatment to his dog misbehaving.

Oh, and because I’m an overachiever, I also brushed my teeth with my left hand last night.  Which is probably why I’m still picking pieces of Not So Crispy chicken out of my teeth today.

Do you feel rejuvenated?

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Show Me The New!


Spring is busting out all over. Boing! It’s a time of renewal and revival. Time for a new dawn of a new day.   I aim to get me some of that new, and I want you to join me.

I’m in a rut.   Partly due to the never-ending winter from hell, partly due to laziness, whatever the reason, the fact is that I have taken up residence in a big, bottomless rut of Everyday Dailyness.

I… ..get up.

………go to work.

…………go home.

…………. eat dinner

……… TV.

……. go to bed.


“Same old, same old” isn’t just an expression to me, it’s my life’s work. I suspect I’m not alone.

Studies show that the human brain never loses its capacity to learn. Not only is it possible, the process of seeking new information and new experiences actually creates new synapses in our brain. This is serious science. Exercising our brains, like our bodies, makes them stronger and keeps them young.

We can use this fact to make a ladder and climb out of the ruts we’re in.   How?   Try 3 new things today.

It may be something you’ve never done before, like trying a new food. Or it could be doing an ordinary thing in a new way, like brushing your teeth with your left hand. It may be a big thing, like jumping out of a plane, or it may be small, like saying hello to someone you always see on the bus but never talk to.

Just for today, make a conscious choice and do 3 new things.  Then report back here tomorrow and tell us what you did.*

We’ll make a pact:

I hereby resolve…(c’mon. All together!).… I hereby resolve to do 3 new things today.

If this works out, maybe we can decide to try a new thing EVERY day. Maybe.

Let’s do it. You and me.

*If reading my blog isn’t the first thing you do each morning, you may need more than one day to accomplish the task.   That’s OK, but we need to talk about your priorities.



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Presumed Stupid Until Proven Otherwise


As citizens of the world, we are forced to touch doorknobs, shopping carts and all sorts of community property every day.  That’s why I’m happy to see these signs popping up in more and more public restrooms.

This is a good start, but the sign doesn’t go far enough.   Here is some much-needed clarification.

1) Wet your hands

Use water.  Make sure it is CLEAN water, which is found in a sink sink.  Do NOT use the water in the toilet.toiletbancartoon


Turn faucet(s) until water comes out of the spout.   The water should be hot enough for effective cleansing, but not so hot it burns you.  If your skin begins to blister, turn the “hot” faucet down.

Hold hands under the spout, directly in the path of the running water.  Leave hands in this position until all hand skin achieves desired nondryness.

2) Liquid soap

Hold one hand under the spout of the dispenser with the palm facing up and cupped.

Use other hand to press, flick or otherwise activate the release mechanism on the dispenser.

soapLeave cupped hand underneath dispenser until a  quarter-sized glop has been received.  If you have  only a nickel-sized glop (or penny or dime), continue press/flick motion until quarter-sized glop is achieved.   Susan B Anthony dollar or Sacagawea dollar-sized glops are equally acceptable.  However, if a Kennedy half-dollar sized-glop is accidentally dispensed, you have gone too far.  Wipe hands free of soap and repeat step 2.

3) Lather and scrub – 20 Sec

Lathering is best achieved by rubbing 2, soapy hands together briskly. As the pictures show, each hand should belong to someone with a different skin tone.

If you are African American, locate a Swedish American lather-buddy.  If you are Asian American, partner with a New Yorker who has retired to a seniors-only community in Boca Raton.  This unites us all in a Rainbow of Cleanliness.

20 seconds is the recommended time for the lather and scrub portion of the process.  This is the length of time it takes to whistle The Star Spangled Banner or say an Our Father.  For non-religious/non-patriotic American washers, recite the “what is your quest?” bit from Monty Python (just the part with King Arthur.)

4) Rinse – 10 sec.

See step 1 for a description of the proper liquid to use.  This is the amount of time it takes to sing 3/4 of the chorus of “Mairzy Doats”  Sing out loudly so you don’t lose track of time.

5) Dry Your Hands.

The sign appears to suggest the hand-washer is using a paper towel.  Since these are no longer available in public washrooms, washers should use any clean piece of beige paper or cloth.  Savvy public-washroom-users make it a point to wear beige clothing with long sleeves or really full skirts so they are always prepared.

faucet6) Turn off tap

You should NEVER turn off the tap with your freshly cleaned hands. That is because the washer just before you may NOT have actually washed.  Some just wet their hands to give the illusion of cleanliness, without going to the bother of finding a lather-buddy.  Then they turn off the tap with hands full of staph germs that have been merely moistened.  All that does is make the germs mad and even more potent.

See #5 for a discussion of how to locate a beige cloth.  If you do not have a beige cloth, you may be able to turn off the tap with the force of air generated by the Xcelerator hand dryers found in many modern washrooms.  Merely aim the air stream toward the faucet until it has been turned the desired amount.  Be careful, however to turn the stream away before it totally shears the faucet from the sink.  NEVER let your hands interrupt the air flow produced.  This may strip the skin right from your bones.  Always use ear protection when using this method of faucet-turning.

Don’t Forget To Wash

A few last words on this topic remind us to clean between the fingers, under the nails and on the tops of the hands.  Washing wrist skin is recommended, but not required.  This depends on the bathroom activities you participated in prior to washing.  Wash up to the shoulders if you think you will be called upon to perform surgery in the next 10 minutes.

What’s next on the horizon for instructional signs?

“How to Poop”

Coming soon to a public restroom near you.



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Sorry, Did You Say Something?



People are rude.  By which I mean they won’t drop everything and listen when I’m talking.

Family members are the worst offenders.

Let’s say my husband is tippity-tappeting on his computer when I approach to share a truly fascinating anecdote.  As I launch into said anecdote, he drags his eyes from the screen (with unbecoming reluctance) and fastens them on my face.  This kind of full-on, direct, eye-to-eye contact lasts about 10 seconds.  Then his eyeballs commit the initial look-back at his computer screen.   Not a long look; just a brief glance.  But this is the beginning of the end.  The no-attention-for-me stone has started rolling down the hill.

I talk faster and start gesturing.

He’s looking at me once more, but his eyes dart away again, even quicker this time.  It’s now about a 5-to-1 ratio of seconds-looking-at-me vs glances-at-the-computer.  The attention stone is rolling faster and it’s gathering no moss.

This is my cue to talk even faster and put more enthusiasm into it.  I’m dropping exclamation points all over the narrative and practically baton-twirling lit sparklers in the fading hope that we will achieve full conversational engagement.

But his attention-to-glances ratio has dropped to 1-to-1.  Even worse, he’s started making the Noncommittal Grunt of Supposed Attention.

“u-huh, u-huh”

Not really signifying agreement, not really a question, it’s a sound that is supposed to indicate he is with me all the way on this.  Clearly, he is not.   He’s looking at the computer now.   He’s gone back to HIS big, important stuff and is no longer even pretending to listen to me.   Once they give you the Noncommittal Grunt of Supposed Attention, you’ve lost them.

Tippity-tappety, tippity-tappety.

The flip side of this rudeness-coin is when somebody starts babbling at me when I’m obviously in the middle of something.  Can’t these people see that I’m busy?  What is WITH that kind of self-centered oblivion?

Bottom line, if you want people to think you have good manners, you need to follow these rules:

  1. If I’m reading/watching/listening to something, zip it.
  2. If I start talking to you, drop everything and listen up.

It’s a simple matter of being polite.



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