Masks of the Heart, Real Life, and Breakfast in Bed

I can’t say that any of my facades are this lovely, but I do appreciate a good Venetian mask.  I can put up a heavy front when I feel it is required, which is most of the time, but there’s not much I can do to mask my poor coordination and bad proportions or exceptionally plain face.  It’s just not possible to polish a turd, unless of course you have watched the episode of Mythbusters where Adam and Jamie do exactly that to make a point.  It can technically be done, but why?

I hide behind a lot of masks.  Sarcasm is one of my favorites.  So is assuming intellectual superiority where possible, which is more often than it probably should be.  I’ve never claimed to be some sort of great mind- the more I learn the more I discover I don’t know- but the ignorance and/or stupidity of the populace at large is frightening.  Just because stupidity is rampant doesn’t make me any smarter than I was before.  Rampant stupidity only means that most other people are more stupid than I am, which is scary on a number of levels.   Here’s how I see it.  I am no great intellect, but in comparison to the average Joe or Jane Blow on the street, I’m a flipping rocket scientist.  That should be frightening to anyone who has ever witnessed me in one of my absent-minded fits where I’ve misplaced and then had to try to find things like my car keys, my phone, my Bluetooth headset, or my MP3 player.  I should have Velcro embedded into my skin and likewise a patch of Velcro stuck to these essential objects so I can just stick those objects to my body.  That way, maybe, I can remember where they are.  It could make showering a challenge though.

In reality, I’m certainly not a rocket scientist.  I played hell getting through high school algebra.  I wonder to this day how I not only made it through three quarters of accounting in college, but managed to do it with high “B”s.  I may be one of those geeky analytical types, but for some reason higher math never clicked with me.  I’m doing good to balance my checkbook so I can freak out over all the money I don’t have.

Money and intelligence don’t always go together either.  Especially inherited or married-into money.  I never had any kind of advantage in that department- having been born not only with a plastic spoon in my mouth AND looks that could stop a thousand trucks.  So I never got any scratch from relatives, and I certainly didn’t have the bait to attract a rich sugar daddy.  I’m fortunate to have landed a man with Dad’s minimum criteria.  Dad would always ask three questions when my sisters would talk about getting serious with a guy:

1. Is it white? (Racist?  Probably, but Dad is not at all PC, and in his mind marrying a Catholic was as close to “mixed marriage” and moving past the traditional WASP couple paradigm as he ever chose to contemplate.  He just about lost it when one of my sisters went out on a date with a guy who was half Mexican.  For some reason, though, he didn’t object to Jerry, who is probably 9/10ths or more Cherokee.)

2. Is it male? (Homophobic?  Definitely- but Dad does come from a backwater town- and a very conservative, old school, Regular Baptist upbringing. I am most certainly a straight woman anyway, so I can forgive him that. I may have brought home some dismal trollings in my time, but they were always male.)

3. Is it employed? (Dad has no use for deadbeats, and I really don’t blame him for that either.)

To his three minimum qualifications (though #1 is a grey area as far as I’m concerned- I really don’t get hung up on race or ethnicity) I would add “hair” and “teeth.”  Jerry does have hair and teeth (the teeth are mostly implants, but not dentures at least) which at almost 54 is rather amazing.  I am a bit curious, though I hesitate to investigate the statistics.  I wonder how many men over the age of 50 are afflicted with ED?  I bet it’s more than half, and I bet very few of them either admit it or do anything about it, regardless of the popularity of  the Viagra and Cialis commercials.  Guys just don’t like to face it.  I can add an FYI: neither do women.  We just suffer in involuntarily celibate silence- unless we have the money (and the lack of scruples and absence of shame) to hire a boytoy.  I have neither the money nor the lack of conscience to find myself a boytoy, cougar jokes with Steve-o’s friends aside, so it is what it is.  Thankfully, I have hobbies, and early menopause has pretty much done away with any desire I had anyway.   My idea of a romantic evening is TruTV and an early bedtime.  It’s easier that way anyway.

Dad never said anything about ED.  He should have warned me, but I can’t imagine someone as modest and straight laced as Dad about such things making a statement like this:

“Just so you know, when your old man gets to be about 45 or so, his Johnson won’t work any more.  Sorry.”

There’s just some things you have to learn as you go, apparently.

I’ve got to stop putting myself through that kind of noise.  The whole weekend breakfast routine.  I don’t even like breakfast, and I usually only gag down some yogurt and oatmeal to keep my sugar in line in the mornings.  (Diabetes sucks, but it does make you pay attention to nutrition and exercise and all that health nut stuff.) Jerry enjoys the Behemoth Breakfast which means I have to get up early on a weekend morning to fix it for him, and serve it to his happy ass- in bed.  I don’t know how someone can drink that much alcohol and eat that much grease and still be above ground.  Maybe I’m the one who has it backwards.  Jerry might be like those Russian dudes who drink vodka all day and smoke cigars one right after the other and live to be 115.  That wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

Tires, Testicles and Trouble, with Some Pent-Up Angst Too

Sometimes old pics are creepy, especially if they are high quality color pics.  The above postcard of Downtown Marion from the early 1950’s reflects that not terribly much has changed other than the cars and a couple of the buildings.  I know exactly where that pic was taken- right in front of the south side of the Courthouse looking west.  I can see the cigar store (on the south side of Center Street, on the east corner of the intersection) and what is now the Ohio State Bank across the street from it.  Further west on the south side of Center Street is the Harding Hotel, which is also still there but has been made into senior citizen apartments.  The Taft Hotel (on the north west corner of the intersection) was torn down in  1969.  The National City Bank built their ugly boxy windowless monstrosity of a bank there (which burned down in 1985 or thereabouts) and rebuilt another hideous modern architectural disaster piece there on the same exact spot, which PNC Bank inherited.  The Bank Fire was almost a funny thing to watch as the digital thermometer on the outside of the bank skyrocketed to over 500 degrees (F) before it melted.  Then again, when you live in a backwater town, excitement is where you find it.  One would think a bank of all places would be built of relatively fireproof material, but I guess as long as the vault holds, who cares?

The WWII In Color episodes are fascinating, but they are almost too personal, as if they are bringing something too antique and faded into real life.  Some things are better viewed through the distance of black and white.

Some things are just too powerful and frightening to experience in all their details.

Admittedly I have been more depressed than usual lately.  Part of it I know is coming off of the Late Winter Funk that lasts from the beginning of February until usually the middle of April or so. I just can’t get enthused about much of anything as the snowbooger grey days drag by, overcast, rainy and dismal.  My perpetual state of poverty does nothing to brighten the picture, especially when Jerry’s groundbreaking suggestions for “saving money” include options such as getting rid of my car, and cancelling cable except for the basic channels -so he won’t miss any sports.  At no time were curtailing beer-drinking, eschewing gambling or getting serious about quitting smoking put on the table.  Then again, I don’t drink beer, I hate gambling, and thanks be to God I quit smoking several years ago.  Jerry isn’t going to address cutting back on his vices but it’s OK to cut back on my base essentials.  Imagine that.  I am disappointed, but not surprised at his zeal to make my life as miserable as he possibly can.  He wonders why I absolutely can’t stand to ask him for anything- not even basic, common sense things like paying for his own scripts and for a reasonable amount of his own expenses.  However, I am not going to give up the car. If worse comes to worse he can cram the cell phone where the sun don’t shine. I can live without the electronic leash, but as far as I can help it I am not going to put myself in a position that I have to beg for the use of his truck.  Being at his mercy for transportation is just not a good idea.  Not happening.

But as I said yesterday, I am thankful that things aren’t any worse.  Maybe I can beat some sense into his head if he’s sober- or just ignore him as usual if he’s drunk.

I don’t know why he is so jealous of any social contact I have with people other than him, even women.  It’s a fight for me to go to church and other activities at church.  Maybe in his mind he sees that he’s missing his “live-in maid” or gopher and he resents not being able to order me around or bitch at me for an hour or two here and there.  Maybe deeper down he’s afraid that I’m trolling for his replacement.  Being with Jerry is sort of like driving an old hoopty. You get none of the options that make having a car fun or comfortable (no A/C, no stereo, etc.) but all of the problems inherent to an old POS. (POS: Piece Of Shit)  He reminds me of my ’79 Rabbit that I spent $800 in repairs on in one month.  It did have a good stereo but no air conditioner, and it was a crap shoot as to whether or not it would start and run from one day to the next without something major failing. Why the hell keep on dumping money, time and frustration into a lost cause?

If I’m going to pay out the ass to drive a car,I want one that works, and one that doesn’t give me fits.  The same goes for men. I had enough of nickel and diming away my life on pathetic hooptys in high school and college- and enough of nickel and diming away my life on mooching trolls from there forward.  I hate to admit it, but Jerry has simply followed the pattern- taking advantage, draining me dry, and browbeating me into feeling like a total shit every minute I am not actively kissing his ass.  It gets old.

I take responsibility for this in so much as I allow it and I have allowed it to continue for years.  I don’t know how to make it stop other than simply disappearing, which I can’t do because I have no money and nowhere to go (also my fault) so it’s a catch-22.  The vicious cycle continues.

I’ve never been able to find a trouble free man.  If anyone could find me one who isn’t a complete troll, please let me know by commenting on this post.  Seriously.  But then again, perhaps I would be better off alone.  I would be, if I could afford it.

It’s not that I am inherently anti-men.  I love men.  I love to look at hot dudes.  If memory serves me right, I like a lot of activities involving men.  I simply have a problem with being used and guilt tripped and ignored and made to feel as if I only have value if I’m either earning money or doing endless chores.  The minute I don’t have enough money to just pay for everything or I’m exhausted and can’t do anything else then the hell with me as far as Jerry’s concerned.  Steve-o treats me the same way.  As long as Mommy’s footing the bill everything is roses, but the minute Mommy’s broke it’s F.U. this and F.U. that.  At least my poverty and lack of stamina have served me in two important ways: to let me know I am not worth a tinker’s damn to anyone, and I’m pretty much destined to die alone.  If the dogs don’t eat me, I’ll be left to decompose for months until the guy who comes to read the water meter can’t get in and as he’s banging on the door he notices a funky smell.   That’s what happened to the creepy old lady who lived across from Mom and Dad.  She used to bitch at us kids for “stealing her snow” if you scraped up a handful of snow from her yard as you went down the sidewalk.  It was thought she died sometime in February, but they didn’t find her body and fumigate the house until high summer- the middle of July.  It took two weeks for the health department to fumigate that house.

I wonder if the “I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up” alarm people have an alarm for old people who live alone and whose relatives are either dead already and/or don’t give a rat’s ass about them?  If I live to be old, I will be one of those people I am afraid.  When said geezers die in their sleep the alarm could go off and call the coroner to come and get the corpse before it festers and rots for months or the deceased’s dogs start munching on it.  I’m going to need one of those, or should I say the poor suckers who eventually happen upon my remains would probably be grateful for an early warning.

Maybe that could be the invention that makes me rich- the Dead Geezer Warning System.  So the coroner gets to you before the smell gets to everyone else.

Candy Coated History, Middle Age Cowardice, and Don’t Call Me by My Name

I don’t remember seeing anything remotely like this anywhere in Marion, but then this postcard likely was from the early 20th century.  There were some most beautiful parks and avenues there back in the day, but by the time I was capable of conscious thought the decline was well underway. 

Perhaps I am as guilty as anyone else of viewing the past through a rose-colored lens.  There were definitely aspects of my past that completely sucked and I am the first to admit it.  Even so, I can’t help but to think there is something wired into our brains to make us see the past with a more positive slant that it deserves. 

The grass was greener/ The light was brighter/ With friends surrounded/The nights of wonder” – Pink Floyd- “High Hopes”

I don’t think the grass or the light have been doing the changing.  I am the one who has changed.  My vision is dimming.  I don’t get to see the friends who were so much a part of my world, and as far as “nights of wonder” go, suffice to say that it’s been a very long time.  Way too long, even though I know that love is an illusion.  The moment was sweet, but the requiem is long and bitter and loaded with longing and regret. 

The suckiest thing about middle age is that it’s so easy to become blase and jaded.  I have to admit that’s partially my own fault, because I do tend to be guarded.  The drawback of safety is that it’s not all that much fun, but when you’ve been wounded in the ways I’ve been, stepping out and taking chances beyond the cycle of daily routine is terrifying.  I’ve seen more than enough rejection and failure in my lifetime, and that fear makes me wary.

Anything worth doing is worth sacrificing everything for.  I could only pray that I could get to the point where I could love without fear and where I could garner the courage to stand and not be tempted to run back to the ivory tower at every hint of a threat.  I am not even remotely close to that goal.

I’m a coward.  I admit it.  I’m afraid to fail.  I’m afraid to face up to my own inadequacies.  I’m afraid to stand up to those who would control me.  I put up with a lot of crap I shouldn’t because I’m afraid to stand my ground even when I know I’m right. 

I don’t have an easy answer.  In fact, I don’t have an answer at all. 

At one time I used to believe that if only I had enough money I could solve all my problems.  I think that’s the biggest lie that society attempts to drill into people’s heads.  Although I would have a lot less stress if I were in a better financial situation, money only buys one the misery one likes the best.  I see all these celebrities in the news and they are more screwed up than I am- in spite of their money, influence and power.  I don’t think I would refuse money if I would ever have the good fortune to come into it (it would be nice to go on a Cougar Cruise, it would be lovely to have all my superfluous body hair removed, as well as it would be nice to have an indoor pool) but I will still be the same unlovely, awkward, geeky kid that no one likes and everyone makes fun of.   I may not do much for the betterment of society, although if you stick around long enough, I may expand your vocabulary.

On the brighter side, I’m not much of a social butterfly to begin with.

One thing that does bother me about kids is they don’t show much respect toward their elders.  Granted, a lot of elders don’t deserve a whole lot of respect, but it’s the principle.  I can’t remember ever referring to adults by their first names when I was a kid.  So-and-so’s mother was always “Mrs. Johnson,” never “Gladys,” or whatever her first name was, even if you knew her first name.  Kids simply did not address adults by their first names.  Steve-o’s friends generally just referred to me as, “Hey, You,” or if they were feeling really formal, “Hey, Stephan’s Mom.”  I can only remember one of them referring to me as “Mrs. Price,” and I think that was only because he was in front of his mother. 

In some ways I can see where it would be confusing for kids because most of them don’t have the same last name as the parental units they are currently habitating with. They can’t assume that because Jeremy’s last name is Wilson that his Mom’s last name is Wilson.  Her last name could be Fartknocker, or Sanchez, or Wang,  for all the poor kids know, and she might be on Jeremy’s Step Dad #4.  I guess one can’t expect the kids to keep the other kids’ parents’ last names straight.  There are days when I’m lucky to remember my own name, but I have the advantage of being able to use my advanced age as an excuse for memory loss.

I guess I don’t care what the kids call me (one of Steve-o’s friends refers to me simply as “The Cougar”) as long as they pretty much abide by my rules and stay civil in my house.  Empty your ashtrays,  dispose of your Mountain Dew bottles and used prophylactics in the proper manner, and I’ll have no real problems with you whether you can remember my name or not.  I’ve never liked my first name, and being called Mrs. anything  just reminds me a.) that I’m old, and b.) to remind myself that I’m not my mother-in-law. 

It’s easier to say it than to live by it, but when all is said and done, the greater part of humanity is cordially invited to kiss my behind.  I know it’s human nature to seek approval, but it’s my nature to be selective regarding whose approval I care about seeking.