Skin to Win

In case you haven’t had the privilege, after you hit 40, and particularly if you have pasty white ghost skin like I do, you can expect dermatologists to treat you like you’re a murder suspect with actively bleeding defensive wounds.  I have an upcoming appointment and I’m thinking of just bringing along a boombox so I can play the Law & Order TV theme song on repeat while I’m sitting in the waiting room.  It’s the only thing that really adequately pumps me up for all the interrogating, strip-searching, and nude photographing that’s about to ensue.

First, as you walk into the exam room, they start circling you and looking you up and down.  You swear you hear the assistant whisper, “Who you tryin’ to mess with ese?  Don’t you know I’m loco?”, but you just stare straight ahead, because you don’t want them to smell your fear.

Then they turn the spotlight on you and get all “Where were you on the day in question, when the UV Index was blah blah?  Were you wearing sunblock and wide-brimmed hat?”, and you’re like, “Yes.  Absolutely.  I swear.  I haven’t had discernible tan lines in over 25 years.  Please just don’t put me in the hole.”  That’s when they give you that look Detective Benson gives to Detective Stabler on SVU when they know you’re lying, so you just let your body go limp so they don’t set you on fire by tasering your paper gown.

This is one of the reasons I always keep my sun hat in the car, by the way.  Sure, it keeps the sun off my highly sun-burnable face, but I also may have to produce the sun hat as evidence at this appointment, and I don’t want to go down on some trumped up charges due to a technicality.

One time, I left out a key detail about a mole and they treated me like I had forgotten to mention that I knew where the murder weapon was all along.  If you don’t quite recall whether that mole was there the last time you came in, you better believe they are pulling up old photographs of your body to try to trap you into lying under oath.

And I’ve gotta tell you, having someone bust out nude photographs of you from a year ago that were taken under fluorescent lights by someone who is not an experienced photographer just so they can prove you wrong about something is its own special brand of humiliation.  It’s not even like you’re auditioning for a Whitesnake video, where there’s a chance some good may come of it.  It’s all bad.  Every bit of it.

The only all-good that will come of it is that they might tell you that your skin is not currently killing you.

A semi-good outcome means they pull out a scalpel and only slice off one piece of your body and say, “Yeah, good luck with that one!” as they make the sign of the cross on their chest and then drop the petri dish into an express envelope to the lab.

A typical outcome means they will look at your forehead and tell you they have a special right now on Botox, and now is definitely the time to act on it, because you’re really past the “preventative years” on those forehead lines and you need to shift into “active maintenance” against the rawhide baseball glove doggie chew-toy that your forehead has become.  You politely decline and then they treat you like the wife in every Lifetime movie who won’t press charges against the husband, even though everyone knows that bastard needs to go to jail.

You schedule a follow-up appointment for next year, pick up what’s left of your dignity, and then thank them for their excellent care, because obviously, you have Stockholm Syndrome since you keep subjecting yourself to this.

They will get back at you for not buying the Botox, by the way. The next time you come in they will “accidentally” call you Mr. Belvedere when they call your name out in the waiting room, and then glance at your face before looking back down at the chart to say, “Oh, my mistake.  I’m sure you must get that all the time, though!  Make sure you take a look at this week’s special on Botox!”

It seems I’ve spent the first few decades of my life being told by doctors to stop being hysterical about the things I’m worried about, and the most recent years being told by doctors to be hysterical about everything.  It’s some kind of trite ant/grasshopper Zen Buddhism shit, which means Coldplay is recording a song about it as we speak.

Rock of Love: The Hobo Gift That Keeps on Giving

Prior to finding the best husband in the world, I had the misfortune of dating a lot of other musicians who I now prefer to call “Ewwww!!!!”

In years past, I wrote often about the experiences, because I was light on time and those guys make for some easy comedy fodder.  As a person who is now older and wiser, I hesitate to share more stories because it just feels almost too easy.  It’s like pie-ing someone in the face for laughs, or trick-or-treating for herpes on the set of Saturday Night Fever.  There’s no challenge in it.  I mean, it’s practically slapstick.

But, alas, here we are.

Welcome to the jungle.  We’ve got hobo gifts.

I came home one day from work about 23 years ago, to find a “gift” left for me on my porch, leaned against my front door.  It was a bright blue, broken Cookie Monster bicycle baby-seat.  You know, the kind you attach to the back of your bicycle and strap a baby into it?  The fact that it was clearly pulled from someone’s trash, wasn’t functional, and that I had neither a baby nor a bicycle and therefore had no use for it, made me bite my lower lip, nod my head knowingly, and say, “Well my, my, my. Some musician must have a crush on little ol’ Maggie!”

Later on, as I received a call from my secret trash admirer from the payphone near the motel he was living in with his parents, I blushed.  I mean, it wasn’t even a collect call!  This guy cared. We made a date for him to “see me around sometime or whatever”, because he didn’t know what he was doing later.  With a commitment like that, I knew he was clearly smitten.

Musicians have a special kind of anti-knack for gift-giving, in that (a) they have no money because they refuse to get a real job, and (b) they are so self-absorbed that they could not care less what your likes and dislikes are.  You’re lucky they remember your name half the time and don’t just call you what you really are to them: “Car Payment”.  They set the bar so low for themselves that it’s a wonder that they don’t wake you up on Christmas morning with a turd in their hands whispering, “I made you a dook for Christmas!”

It reminds me of the time I was gifted with a toilet seat for Christmas.

While it was, in fact, a new toilet seat, which meant he actually walked into a store to purchase it instead of pulling it off a trash pile down the street, most ladies are expecting something a little more, I don’t know, romantic?  Than a toilet seat?  Pretty much any other item that can be found in a bathroom is more romantic than a toilet seat.  A toothbrush cup, a new rug, even a can of Lysol Scrubbing Bubbles – because those little cartoon guys on the label are kinda cute, right?

Granted, I had only spent $300 on a custom gift for him that he later sold for gas money, but that’s neither here nor there.

I think the best part, though, was that along with the toilet seat came a solid promise to install it.  Many years later, as I pitched the toilet seat into the trash after our breakup, still in its original, unopened clamshell packaging, I wondered if he was still planning on getting around to that.

Now, this is all fine and good, and I’m sure you’re probably thinking it doesn’t get worse than an old Cookie Monster bicycle baby-seat or a new toilet seat, but that’s where you’d be dead wrong, Hoss.

The best-worst hobo gift I ever received from a musician was a rock.

I can assure you that is not a euphemism for a diamond, by the way.  It was an actual rock.  And not a pretty rock from the desert, or one of those smooth river stones that someone painted to look like a sea turtle.  It was a strictly utilitarian rock.  Like the kind of rock I would have later thrown through his window when I found out he was routinely stealing money from my purse, that is, if he had actually had a home.

And it wasn’t like he had forgotten it was Christmas and just picked a rock up off the ground and handed it directly to me on Christmas morning, thinking I’d be none the wiser.  He had wrapped this rock up and taped the package shut – so it was a totally planned gift.

Now, for my gift to him, I had commissioned from a silversmith a large, custom-designed sterling silver charm for his black leather cord necklace (because 1990s) that took me weeks of planning and about half my paycheck but, again, that’s neither here nor there.

He, on the other hand, gave me a rock, wrapped in newspaper from my own recycling bin.  Now, I know you’re thinking that there’s nothing worse than receiving a rock wrapped in your own garbage newspaper as a gift, but that’s where you’d be dead wrong again, Hoss.

As he gave me the rock and I unwrapped it, he told me, in complete earnest, that it was a rock that had been given to him by his favorite ex-girlfriend, and now he was “entrusting” it to me to take care of it.

That’s right.  This was no ordinary rock.

This motherfucker gave me a secondhand rock.

He re-gifted me a rock.

He re-gifted me a rock from his ex-girlfriend and then said, out loud, to my face, “This is a rock my favorite ex-girlfriend gave to me and now I’m entrusting its care to you.” As a gift!

I’ve gotta say, though, whoever this ex-girlfriend was? She was waaaaay more experienced at dating musicians than I was, because by giving him this rock, she had clearly been aiming to give him a taste of his own medicine.  I assume it was her response to previously being given one of his other ex-girlfriend’s used maxi pads as a gift for Valentine’s Day.

I mean, she gave him a rock?  That’s some seriously next-level shit right there.  That’s the kind of shit Grace Slick or Stevie Nicks would pull.

Truth be told, I wish I actually could have met this ex-girlfriend, because I would have side-eyed her as I shook her hand and said, “Well played, ex-girlfriend. Well played.”  Then I would have sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” to her, because how else could she know she was my hero?

Seriously, she gave him a rock?  That woman should be goddamned President.

Home Is Where Nobody Annoying Is

There’s a stereotype of a woman “of a certain age”.  She’s sitting at home, wearing yoga pants, a breezy tank top that says something like “Me Time = Wine Time”, Ugg-style slipper booties, a face coated in three types of moisturizer, is eating Greek yogurt, and has glazed-over eyes from watching Orange is The New Black for three hours straight.

When you’re 25 and out every night until 5am, you think about this mature woman stereotype and assign a certain amount of derision to it, like that’ll never be you.  Fast asleep before 10pm after finishing your nightly Sleepytime herbal tea?  Nope!  After all, you’re a party monster!

At 25, on any random Monday, you might wake up on a band tour bus in a parking lot in Ft. Lauderdale wearing chaps and a feather boa, and not be able to quite figure out which person in the band you pulled them off from, so you steal a $20 that was stuffed down inside a bong on the kitchenette counter and call a cab home from the IHOP next door before anyone else wakes up and finds out you stole their master recordings for their next album (which means you leave at noon).  On your way home, while dry-heaving up Popov vodka into an Eckerd’s bag, you find a police badge and a container of Sea Monkeys in your purse, have no idea how they got there, and decide to just add them to your existing collection of police badges and Sea Monkeys that you keep on your thrift store nightstand at home, that is also covered in Delia’s catalogues and eye glitter-pots, because there is no such thing as too many lug-soled mary janes, or too much eye glitter.

(The foregoing anecdote is “hypothetical” for “legal reasons”. I’m sure I have no “idea” where your master recordings “are”. I’m “sure” nobody “smashed them with a hammer in their backyard after the shit you pulled”.)

And besides, what else were you gonna do?  Sit at home like a lame-ass?  You are most certainly NOT going to sit at home like a lame-ass.  You’re a wild woman of the world!

I was a wild woman of the world for many years there, and it was mostly a good ride.  Why, out of about 7,000 nights, there were 20 or 30 that were pretty damn amazing.  The rest were mostly, I don’t know, just okay? Waiting around for them to become amazing nights?

That being said, nowadays, as a woman of a certain age, I am not leaving my house on a Monday night for literally anything.  A-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.  Know why?

Because I am sitting at home, wearing yoga pants, a breezy tank top that says something like “Me Time = Wine Time”, Ugg-style slipper booties, a face coated in three types of moisturizer, am eating Greek yogurt, and have glazed-over eyes from watching Orange is The New Black for three hours straight – and I am not ashamed.

I will state my case thusly:

Sitting at home is awesome because I am home, which is a place that has been fully customized for my maximum comfort, and also contains my husband Bobby, who is my favorite person.  Unlike being out at a club, in my home there are no annoying weirdos trying to grope me, no loogies on the floor, nobody shooting up heroin in the corner, there is a working toilet and – as a bonus – nobody there is an asshole, except for me.

Yoga pants are awesome because they are engineered and designed to fit a woman’s body, and never give you muffin-top.  I would even venture to say that they are as comfortable as most men’s clothing.  (It’s really great how what are, essentially, women’s pajamas are almost as comfortable as the shit men get to wear every waking moment of their lives, isn’t it?)  Yoga pants still don’t have any useful pockets, though, so that’s how you know they are still made for women.  Given the discomfort and lack of useful pockets in 99% of women’s clothing, I guess clothing manufacturers assume that women are both (a) masochists, and (b) have a kangaroo pouch in their abdomen that they store stuff in.

Breezy tank tops are awesome because they are like wearing a delicate cloud around your torso, and allow you to hide the food baby that you created when you ate all those tater tots and sweet pickles earlier for lunch while you cried in your car to a Dionne Warwick song for no reason.

Ugg-style slipper booties are awesome because it’s like having your feet jammed inside a fuzzy stuffed animal, and because woman-feet tend to be in the temperature range of -0 and -1 degrees Fahrenheit, because God hates you.

A face coated in three types of moisturizer is not so much awesome as it’s a requirement if you don’t want to look like current day Jack Palance who, by the way, died 12 years ago.

Greek yogurt is awesome because it has a creamy density and tartness that can’t be replicated by anything else on Earth, it goes well with honey or fancy maple syrup, and if you also crush salted peanuts on top of it, it will appease the hormone demons that hold your brain hostage over the “salty-sweet” thing until you feed them and then they’re still like, “Now how about some meat pizza and root beer?”

Orange is The New Black is awesome because it doesn’t have Ben Affleck in it.