Category Archives: Humor

UGLY DRESSES

Dear Fashion Industry,

Why do you hate short women? It seems to me that you despise us, and want us to look like fat little tree stumps, feeling unattractive as much of the time as possible. Here’s why I think you hate us:

1. You don’t make clothes for actual petite women. You seem to design your clothing for a mythical petite woman with a flat chest and a 15-inch waist, which in reality is a 10-year old. Have any of you ever seen a real-life petite woman? (For tall women, the mythical measurements are the same, just taller. They would fit a tall 10-year old).

2. You’re stuck in a Dark Age of ugly dresses. I hoped it would have passed by now, but you keep offering me huge flowery prints that make me look like a curtain on two feet. Also, horizontal stripes are a non-starter for me. I’m trying to look taller, not wider. And the latest ugly dress incarnation – swingy, balloon-like dresses, designed for baby elephants. These styles can be carried off by my tall sisters, but for petites like me, these dresses are demoralizing.

Here are some other things that bug me, and they’re not only petite-woman complaints:

3. Why do you have colors of the year? I suspect that someone in an office somewhere in New York City, or wherever they make these decisions, sticks their hand in a box of various colored fabric samples, pulls out a couple, and announces, “OK everybody, here are the colors of the year.” Let’s say they’re purple and black. Every item of clothing manufactured for that season will be purple or black. I happen to like purple and black, but seriously?

4. And why are there no consistent sizes? If I was a man I could walk into a store, select my clothing by exact measurements, and take it home without even trying it on. A man I know well does this all the time. But not me. I can go from being Extra Small to Large in the space of 10 minutes in the same store. And if, after hours of trying on clothes, I find a purple something that miraculously looks good on me, why does the same-sized item in black fit differently than the purple one? Why, why, why?

5. Rethink your brand labels. The shopping process is already sufficiently horrifying, what with clothes that don’t flatter and yellow lighting that turns my face sickly green. Why then must I be confronted with a clothing label like Sag Harbor? Who thought it was a good marketing strategy to attempt to sell anything to a woman with the word “sag” in it? Certainly there are other harbors? What’s next? Fat Mama and Old Hag?

6. Could you please put more fabric at the necklines of all tops and dresses? I like v-necks, but I want them to end well above my waist. I’m not a Hollywood starlet trying to amp up my career.

7. You have an unhealthy relationship with polyester. You can call it microfiber if you want, but it’s still polyester. It doesn’t breathe and it makes me sweat buckets. So do all of your synthetic fibers. Yes, I know people don’t iron anymore, and synthetics are easy to pack, but in heat and humidity I long for cotton blends. There used to be something called PermaPrest, a blend of cotton and polyester. Where did it go?

8. Before I die I want a white summer blouse that doesn’t look like a men’s dress shirt, isn’t all fluttery and ruffly, and most of all isn’t transparent. I don’t think this is too much to ask, but so far you’ve failed me.

In closing, dear fashion industry, I have some advice for you. Leave your mythical woman on the drafting table and go find some real petite women. Familiarize yourself with the variety of shapes and sizes we come in – thin, not so thin, curvy, straight, and all combinations thereof. Maybe sit down with some of us and ask us what we want to wear.

I promise that if you start designing clothing for actual petite women, I will buy it and tell everyone in my petite tribe. I will love you forever. Until then, I continue my unending safari in the fashion jungle, hunting for Something That Looks Good.

FUN WITH PHOBIAS

I’m guessing everybody has at least one phobia. I have several: fear of heights (acrophobia), fear of falling or being pushed from high places (pushacrophobia – I made that up), fear of snakes (properly ophidiophobia, but let’s make it simple and call it snakeophobia), and claustrophobia. If you ever want to get rid of me, stuff me in a box with a snake and set me on the edge of a cliff. The cliff may not even be necessary.

I also have FOMO, known as Fear of Missing Out. This causes sufferers to stay up too late or postpone trips to the bathroom, because we might miss some fascinating conversation or exciting event. This fear is based on reality. In fact I have often lived through EOMO (Experience of Missing Out), usually when I have dinner guests. The main course has been eaten, conversation is lagging, and it’s time to clear plates and serve dessert. The second I leave the dining room, the conversation springs back to life, punctuated by laughter and hooting. I can’t follow the conversation because the coffee maker is hissing and I’m opening and closing drawers, running water, and possibly dropping silverware on the floor. My FOMO has materialized, and I’m missing the most interesting repartee of the meal. When I return with dessert, the moment will have vanished.

My husband has in the past suffered from acartohygieiophobia, the fear of running out of toilet paper. This is real, I promise you. I googled it, giggling to myself, and was astounded to find it’s an actual phobia. For awhile my husband, who loves to do the grocery shopping, would come home week after week with gigantic packages of toilet paper because, he explained, it was on sale, and because it’s something we’ll always need. Fine, I said, but where are we going to store it? Leave it to me, he said, and proceeded to unwrap the gigantic packages and stuff individual rolls of TP into nooks and crannies in every closet. One sheet-changing day I opened the linen closet and was pummeled by a soft avalanche of toilet paper. Enough, I said. The store is only one mile away, if we ever run out. That seemed to cure him of acartohygieiophobia, which was a relief because it’s really hard to spell.

I have a deep fear of running out of chocolate, which has no clinical name that I can find, so let’s call it nochocophobia. Chocolate pulls me in, like the moon’s gravity pulling on the oceans. What would happen if there were no tides? Bad things, I presume. So we must never run out of tides or chocolate. I’ve been known to keep chocolate stashes hidden in various locations around the house, for those times when I need a chocolate hit and I’m far from the kitchen, or, let’s be honest, when I’m trying to keep it hidden.

Interestingly, I found out a few years ago that it’s possible to hide my stash in plain sight. We were recipients of a bag of 20 full size KitKat bars in a pantry shower when we moved to a new town and a new church. The entire family was aware of the KitKats, and they all knew they were in a kitchen drawer. But nobody ever asked for one, and everyone forgot they existed. Except me. I remembered. Over the next few months, while cooking dinner, and while the rest of the family was in the family room, watching TV or doing homework (the two rooms are actually one room), I’d periodically remove a KitKat from the drawer and eat the whole thing, literally in plain view, if anyone had bothered to pay attention. It’s true that I never offered one to anybody, but they were free to go get one any time. Eventually the KitKats were no more.

One day, months later, one of the kids said, hey, where’s that bag of KitKats we got for the pantry shower? Confession time, followed by shock and recriminations. I maintain it was their own responsibility to remember where the KitKats were, and help themselves. Apparently their fear of missing out wasn’t strong enough to make them inquire as to the whereabouts of the KitKats earlier in the game. This isn’t my fault. Where chocolate is concerned, it’s every woman for herself.

My greatest fear is not nochocophobia, pushacrophobia, FOMO, claustrophobia, acrophobia, or even snakeophobia. My greatest fear is abibliophobia, the fear of running out of books. There’s nothing so horrifying to me as being stuck on a plane, in a waiting room, or at home, with nothing to read, or at least nothing interesting to read. I feel best when surrounded by filled bookshelves, piles of magazines on the coffee table, and a healthy stack of library books waiting to be read. When faced with nothing to read, I get twitchy and anxious. The world of books is going on without me, and I can’t stand it. And by the way, this phobia leads to book greed. I cannot go to the library and check out just one book. I have trouble limiting it to ten, and often stagger out with more than that. I need a cushion, so when I finish one I can immediately go on to the next. I simply love a bounty of books. They are my good and treasured friends.

As I attempt to bring this to a close, I’m haunted by how-do-I-end-this-blogophobia. In writing, beginnings and endings are tricky. You can tank the whole thing with a boring beginning or a bad ending. I’ll just say I hope you’ve found this discussion of my phobias enlightening. If you’re feeling phobic after reading, I recommend chocolate therapy, which will get you through just about anything.

OUTFOXING THE FOX

Wolves and foxes are figuring prominently in my life these days, due to my three-year-old grandson’s obsession with “The Three Little Pigs.” He’s not afraid of the wolf. He loves the wolf. We build block towers over and over, which he designates as houses built of straw, sticks or bricks, and then proceeds to huff and puff until he blows them down. Even the brick ones, which strictly speaking are supposed to withstand the wolf’s huffing and puffing. The blowing is supplemented by head-butting in order to get the job done.

Wolves are akin to foxes, those handsome animals that are forever prowling about looking for poultry to devour. In picture books, the fox often gets outfoxed in humorous ways. A favorite of ours is “The Rooster and the Fox,” (Helen Ward) in which the proud and arrogant rooster Chanticleer is seized by the neck by the equally proud and arrogant fox. Chanticleer does some clever thinking, tricking the fox into opening his mouth to declare his own cleverness. When the fox’s mouth opens, Chanticleer escapes. Another fox story is “That is Not a Good Idea!” (Mo Willems), in which the fox concocts a plan to seduce a fat goose into coming to his house to help him make soup. The fox intends for the goose to be the main ingredient, but in a delightful twist ends up in the soup himself.

But I have another tale in mind, a story about actual foxes and chickens on the farm of my childhood.

Each spring my mom ordered one hundred fluffy yellow chicks. They were delivered to town on the train, brought home, and kept warm in the house for several days under brooder lamps. Our kitchen was temporary home to a delightful mass of peeping cuteness. We kids knew the chicks were meant to be eaten eventually, and it didn’t bother us. That’s life on the farm. After a few days they were relocated to the chicken coop, and thus began the long season of raising them to juicy adulthood. They were allowed to run loose around the farm yard during the day, scratching and pecking for bugs and worms. At dusk the door to the coop was left open, and they all went home to roost.

The summer I was nine or so, there were several hungry foxes lurking in the tree rows at the edge of the yard. Dad would report seeing them in the fields when he was cultivating or spraying for weeds. As the summer wore on, one or two of them made the bold move of taking a midday foray into the yard and snatching a chicken. Unusual, because this is normally a nocturnal activity. Which is why the chickens were safely ensconced in the coop at night.

It was a night in late August, a week before the planned chicken butchering party, an annual event for my mom and her sisters. That night my parents attended a different annual event – the grain elevator meeting and dinner. This was a huge social gathering as well, not to be missed. A sweet, grandmotherly neighbor lady arrived to babysit my brothers and me. Careful instructions were given to her to remember to let the chickens into the coop before we all went to bed, and off Mom and Dad went.

I don’t remember anything about what ensued, except for what I was told later. My parents returned from their partying well after midnight. As they drove into the yard, they discovered a sea of plump, feathered bodies littering the yard. Can you see it? White feathers glinting under the full moon, the bodies still warm from the kill (I have no idea if the moon was full or not. But it makes a better story). An entire summer’s worth of chicken-raising in anticipation of an entire year’s worth of chicken and dumplings, gone. And the fact that the chickens would have been plucked, gutted and in the freezer in just a few days made the whole affair so much worse.

There was nothing to do but leave the corpses lying in state until morning. Except that by morning every chicken had vanished, dragged off by the foxes. The exception was one traumatized hen who’d flown into a tree during the massacre. She refused to come down for three days.

Our poor grandmotherly neighbor was horrified at what she’d forgotten to do. But honestly, herding around four kids must have taken all her concentration. Plus, she was almost deaf (I remember, because her hearing aids were always whistling), and didn’t hear the chickens’ frantic screams for help. So I don’t see it as her fault, and neither did my parents. Somehow we got through that winter without chicken. And during spring plowing, Dad unearthed piles of chicken bones.

In real life we don’t always outfox the fox. But life goes on anyway. There will be another spring, bringing a new batch of fluffy yellow chicks. But in the world of stories my grandson and I celebrate either the demise of foxes and wolves, or their victory, depending on what mood he’s in. Which is exactly how it should be when you’re three.