I Find I Am Looking For Signs

Originally published on http://www.newsworks.org, the online news source for WHYY/ NPR in Philadelphia on November 11, 2011. Read here or follow link.


My father died from complications of dementia in 2004, and lately I find that I am on the lookout for signs that indicate I am also getting dementia. The reason I am so conscientious about this is that the big problem with getting dementia is that after you have it it’s too late. You won’t recognize the signs that tell you you have dementia, because you will already have it, and at that point even if everyone tells you you have it, you won’t believe them because… well, you know. One reason it took our family a long time to realize my father had dementia is because people with dementia are often cranky and irrational pains in the ass (they can’t help it), and since my dad was already a cranky and irrational pain in the ass much of the time, the diagnosis was harder to make.

Here are some recent occurrences that have me worried:
One recent morning when I went to the grocery store I had to take my husband’s car. When I got out of the store, laden down with my bags, I looked for my car where I thought I had parked it. I even remembered thinking when I parked how I had gotten a really good parking space, close to the doors for a change. But a quick glance in that area of the parking lot did not reveal my car. I did, however, spy a car that looked like mine (not exact, but close enough – very similar color), so I schlepped over there with all my bags, and when I got right up to it and realized it wasn’t my car, I very casually turned on my heel and went back to the area I had just come from. Continue reading

Men Who Diet and the Women They Drive Crazy

(From my essay collection “Second Thoughts,” columns from The Beach Reporter.)

I recently attended a support group for wives of men who are dieting. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since I’m not a support group type of person. But I was a desperate person.

I didn’t necessarily want to share my story, but I thought I might learn something from the women there. Something that would make me feel I was not alone. We wore name tags and sat in a circle. Normally I don’t like sitting in a circle and I don’t like to share things in groups.

Vanessa was the first to speak. She was a slim, intense woman who seemed friendly with everyone there. She said, “Well, thank goodness Howie is almost at the weight he was when we got married twenty years ago. I don’t think I could take much more. The last month has been a living hell. I mean, just because he’s on a diet doesn’t mean the whole family has to starve. I can’t have any food in the house that doesn’t come from the fruit or vegetable group.” Continue reading

Paris Fashions Don’t Cater to Real People

(A Beach Reporter column from 5/12/90.)

The word is out. At the recent Paris fashion shows for the fall collections of the big designers, the buzz was hoods, velvet, and hardware. The hardware: chains interwoven into the fabric or on leather, or even chain mail. Are you as excited as I am? I know I’m going to rush right out and buy a chain mail vest for myself and a hooded velvet dinner jacket for my husband.

Let’s get real. Do the fashion giants honestly think the average guy is going to wear a velvet jacket with a hood? Sly Stallone, maybe, but he isn’t really average. For most men, the highlight of each seasonal fashion change is the arrival of the new L. L. Bean catalog. They order two new pairs of khaki twill pants and tan cargo walking shorts. The exact same ones every year. They will not be wearing, “A pair of slim pants that hug the leg as they get closer to the ankle.”

The only hoods in clothing belong on sweatshirts. To keep your head warm. Or maybe bald men will buy into this hood thing, for obvious reasons. Maybe all the men who wear this stuff hang out at the Polo Lounge, wearing $500 loafers without socks. Continue reading

Volunteerism – A Unique State of Mind

(Originally appeared in The Beach Reporter on 7/9/92.)

On my desk sits my Oscar. My Oscar differs slightly from the real Academy Award, but it is cherished nonetheless.

It is made of gold plastic and is about 8 ½ inches tall. It sits on top of my stack of unsold, unpublished writing. My Oscar has nothing to do with my writing, however. I received it for a volunteer position I took on at my children’s school.

During a recent Parents Club meeting, awards were handed out to various moms at the school for volunteer jobs they had done. My job was a small one. Some of the women performed truly Herculean tasks, like chairing the school carnival or being in charge of a dinner dance. They really deserved their Oscars. Continue reading