Monthly Archives: January 2012

I’m Cooke’d

Sometimes, one blog is enough.  Sometimes, one blog leads to another.  Sometimes you just have to steal someone else’s topic.

And that’s where I am tonight.  Stealing someone else’s theme.  But, honestly, Bryonic Man, this was much too long to do in a comment.  And you got your pingback.  So that’ll give you an extra hit or two.  No more, though.  Sorry.

Bryonic Man wrote a great post about songs that drive him crazy, and opening the floor to those that drive his readers crazy.  It’s here.    I started to leave a comment, but well, it didn’t quite fit in with his theme of “songs that make you suicidal.”  My story is kinda cute.  Unless, of course, you’re me.  Then you must live in shame for as long as the gods rule.  Maybe longer if you blog it.

It’s not a song I hate, or one that makes me dive for the mute button.  I like this song.  It’s running through my head right now, and I don’t want to jump off the roof.  I could listen to it repeatedly, and sing along happily each time.  Until I pay attention to the lyrics, that is.

This song is one of my clearest, early memories.  A “Sunday night with the family” memory.  I remember Ed Sullivan.  I remember the cute babies hanging from the ceiling of the set with their bows drawn and their arrows pointing.  I remember the tune, although not who sang it.  And YouTube is not helping.

Unfortunately, I remember the lyrics.  Well, I remembered my lyrics.

You know those songs where you can’t quite come up with the right lyrics, they’re muffled, swallowed, unclear?  This isn’t one of them.  These lyrics are, in fact, pretty clear.  Just about anyone listening can figure out what they are.  Except me.  Well, except little me.  If I heard it for the first time today, well, I’m sure I’d get it.

But I happily sang these lyrics until a year or two ago, when I listened to myself singing.  Suddenly, I knew that I had the lyrics wrong.  And that I am, yes, an idiot.  Because I should have figured this out, well, a while ago.  And that’s why this song makes me feel, well, foolish.

I constructed these lyrics I one night while watching the Ed Sullivan Show.  When I was little, long before I knew who Cupid was, and what Cupid did.  And how Cupid had a bow.  A bow with which he shot folks.  Long before I knew much of anything in fact.  And I sang these lyrics for nearly fifty years:

Cute Baby, Draw Back Your Bow

And Let,

Your arrow go

Straight to

My mother’s arm

For Me

I am so glad you don’t really know who I am.


Filed under Uncategorized


It happened in 1992.  June to be exact.  June 10.  And yes, I do remember the day.

It was the day that I was sent into the Way-Back machine.  Back to elementary school.  Back to junior high.  Back to when I was unpopular (and of course “popular” was then the goal).  Back to when I didn’t fit in.  Back to when I wanted to fit in with folks I didn’t necessarily fit in with anyway.

You see, in June of 1992, I was thrown out of an infant’s playgroup.  A group of 5 women and 5 babies.  Yes.  It’s true.  It was my fault, of course.  My then 11-month old son really had not yet offended anyone.

In March 1992, I was a lonely stay-at-home Mom.  We had adopted Jacob in November, and I was trying to find free things to do with him, because we had no money.  Plus I was a new mom and didn’t yet realize that well, you paid for everything.  So there I was at the library baby hour one day, chatting with a couple of women.  It turned out they had a playgroup.  I politely asked if I could join.  They said yes.

I was delighted.  You see I am fairly social.  Before being a mom, I was a professional friend-maker.  I was a lobbyist.  A low-low-low level one, but yes, I made friends with folks for money.  Great work if you can get it.  But, well, I was really lonely, because my kid just didn’t talk to me.  He didn’t read.  At that point the kid was crawling, but aside from a happy “slap, slap” as the Happy Crawler smacked his hands down on the wood floor, well, my house was pretty darn quiet.

So I enjoyed the playgroup.  Ellen, one of the women was a bit odd.  But the others, Katy in particular, were really pleasant.

About two months after I joined, my dog died.  He wasn’t just any dog, he was the dog who had helped me through a long, serious illness.  I was devastated.  I was not cheerful.  I was, in fact, quite sad.  He had had leukemia and we did, well, what we had to do to end his suffering.

Weird Ellen kept suggesting that the dog could be cured. The first time she said that, I told her that the dog was in fact, dead.  As in “doorknob.”  Two successive weeks, Weird Ellen told me that the dog could be cured.  I assured her that no, in fact he couldn’t be.  After over a month, I finally told her my dog had not only died but he had been cremated, so even if there had once been a chance of curing him, that the fact that we had reduced him to ashes probably made that possibility much less likely.

Katy was my favorite in the group.  She was sweet, her son, Richard, was Jacob’s first friend.  So it was odd, that June day, when Weird Ellen called me up and politely told me that all of the members had decided that the playgroup would be more fun without me.

I was polite.  I was so shocked that I didn’t quite know what to say.  Of course I stopped going.  Wouldn’t you?

But the nicest thing happened later.  Katy called me up and said, “What Weird Ellen did was awful.  If you’ll have me, I’d like to be your friend.”

And we became very good friends indeed.  What she did was kind, and generous and nice.  Pure hearted.  And it was worth far more in good feelings than the bad feelings of being thrown out of the playgroup.

About a month later, I got an oversized envelope in the mail, with Katy’s return address on it.  Inside it was a dishtowel.  A yellow dishtowel with red hearts on it.  It was hideous.

(Google Image)

Also inside of it was a letter.  Handwritten in those days.  Copied by Katy herself.  It was a chain letter, with a twist.  I was supposed to send a dishtowel to the person at the top of the list, send a copy of the letter to 9 more people, and then I’d end up with 10, count ‘em 10 dishtowels.

I didn’t quite know what to do.  I had never been asked to participate in a dishtowel chain letter.  I had, in fact, never dreamed that such a thing could, well, exist.  Or that people would actually do it.  Or that anyone would actually want to join.

But it was from Katy.  The person who repaired my hurt.  Who wanted to be my friend when other people didn’t.

So I bought a pretty dishtowel, sent it to the person on top of the list.  I sent the letter to nine of my friends (only one of whom still speaks to me–thanks Judy!). I did it right away so I wouldn’t weasel out.  It was for Katy.  My friend.   I felt stupid and holy, all at the same time.

Katy came over the day after I sent it out and said, “yeah, my sister stuck me with that.  I knew you wouldn’t bother so I sent it to you and a bunch of other friends who I was pretty sure wouldn’t want to be in a Dishtowel Club. ”



Oh dear.

I try to NOT do this sort of thing, but I do.

In spite of being, well, a bitch, I cannot intentionally hurt someone’s feelings.  And so I am very appreciative of all the folks who have sent Blog Awards my way.

If I am honored with any additional awards I will say thanks and pass awards on to folks who I think don’t have them at the bottom of future posts.  But, as several of my blogging buddies have recently said, far more bravely than me, I am feeling too much guilt to actually get on with writing.  Which is what I want to do.

And by the way, I promise not to send you any dishtowels!

(Google Image)


There is a snarkier ending.

A few months later, after we saw each other repeatedly around town, where I was unfailingly nice to her, Weird Ellen invited me to re-join the playgroup.  I politely declined.  If only I’d known the phrase “Oh, SNAP!” back then.


Filed under Uncategorized

What’s in a Meme?

It’s more of a disease than anything.   Think Contagion.  Think OutbreakThink the combined scourges of tuberculosis, bubonic plague and flatulence with the Love Boat Theme playing in the background, with no mute button.

Yes, that’s how I describe the “meme” I got from Lori at Sunny Side Up.

A meme, according to Wikipedia, my bible, is:

an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.  A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.  Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective pressures.

Yes, it’s a chain letter.

But, as I am a girl who can’t say no, here goes.

1.        Describe yourself in 7 words:

  • Irreverent
  • Snarky
  • Chatty
  • Storyteller-at-any-opportunity
  • Smart
  • Curly
  • Liar Literary-license-taker   

2.       What keeps you up at night?

The fear that some perve is going to want to know what I’m wearing right now.

 3.       Who would I like to be?

The Queen

 4.       What am I wearing right now?


 5.       What scares me?

 Repeating myself.  Repeating myself.  See Nos 2 and 4.

 6.       The best and worst of blogging:

  • Having an outlet to write and be appreciated
  • Falling into the black hole of posting, reading posts and comments, where there is no other reality and where no serious writing projects get done because blogging is just too damn much fun
  • Having things you wrote appear in weird boxes like this even when you don’t want them to.

7.       The last website I visited:

I did medical research just now here:

 8.      What is the one thing I would change about myself:

My liposuction appointment is on Wednesday, so I’m working on that one.

9.       Slankets…yes or no?

Absolutely.  How can I possibly resist something that will keep me warm AND fed while I fulfill my duty as a couch potato?

"Nicks Lunch" (no apostrophe) available for $29.99 at

10.   Tell us something about the person who tagged you:

Lori of Sunny Side Up likes to give me stuff.  She gave me my first award, the Liebster , which is for blogs with fewer than 100 followers. (I have dubbed it “The Award for Blogs Nobody Reads.” But that caption has NOT caught on.)

But Lori is unfailingly happy, optimistic, sunny.  And I thought the world of her until she was Fresh Pressed and I wasn’t.

Seriously Lori.  Don’t try that FP trick again.  Cause I’m watchin’ you.

Now, according to the chain letter, meme tradition, I am supposed to name folks who can carry on this chain letter  tradition.  But I am a non-traditionalist, so I figure I’ll give an open invitation to anyone who wants to tell about themselves, who needs a list to do it with, and who has strong feelings about slankets.

Go For It!


Sometimes blogging is an enriching, uplifting experience.  Sometimes, in researching a post, I learn strange and wonderful things.  But today I realized something frightening.  If a meme is “a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices,” our culture is doomed.  And all because of blogs.  Remember the Slankets.  And be afraid.  Because the fall of civilization and society always follows when a society forgets how to dress nicely.


You too can decrease the surplus population -- and for only $29.99 at




Filed under Awards, Childhood Traumas, Climate Change, Global Warming, Humor, Word Press

People My Age

Well, it’s my birthday.  And I have a problem.

You might have noticed it yourself.  You may even have asked me about it.  Or wondered in stoic silence.   “Whatever will she do?” you asked yourself.  I am sure it has been weighing on you — heavily.  As well it should.

“FiftyFourAndAHalf,” that’s the problem.  It’s right up there at the top of the page.  Yup, the blog’s name.   I called it that in a fit of pique at the GOP who were going to take Medicare away from everyone under 55.  Starting with me.  It seemed grossly unfair when I was younger.  Like, you know, six months ago.

But, ummmm.  I’m not FiftyFourAndAHalf anymore.  I’m not even FiftyFourAndThreeQuarters, either — the name my son, Jacob, has been calling me.   Because my 55th birthday is here.  I tried to stop it, but, well, I failed.  My bad.

I didn’t know what to do.  I thought of taking a poll:



I must admit I was afraid of your answers.  More importantly, I was afraid that I had more poll questions than readers.

But then I saw this:

John Gorka, singing “People My Age”

It helped me make my decision.  It stiffened my resolve.  I wish I had thought of it sooner.  Like 20 years ago.  But back then, I didn’t know that people my age had started looking gross.

So I’m not going on to FiftyFive.  I don’t want to be my age, because people my age have started looking gross. 

I’m sticking with FiftyFourAndAHalf.

Man! I look better already.


Filed under Childhood Traumas, Climate Change, Elections, Family, Humor, Music, Science, Stupidity


My sisters and I never saw eye to eye; rather we heard heart to heart through our telephone receivers.  We lived a good distance away for most of our lives.  And so our connections, close as they were, were nearly always via long distance calls.

The ear pieces on the phone grew increasingly warm and comforting with each laugh, each tease and each word we spoke.  We spent hours on the phone, twisting the curly, stretched cord around our body parts, spilling out our hearts and our triumphs and our woes.  But there is no record, no evidence, and sadly fewer clear recollections.

So I made up some memories.

*     *     *

I began to question the wisdom of this trip as soon as the line went dead.

The call Thursday night was unexpected.  Sam and Dave – customers from the burger joint I’d worked in back home — had tracked me down in Boston.  I’d left home six months earlier, and was surprised that the guys had found me.  They had said they were in Boston often and promised to look me up – but so had a lot of people.

Six months away from home hadn’t been nearly as fun as I expected my “coming of age” to be.   I hesitated to admit that I was lonely and would love some company.  But I hadn’t even thought about Sam and Dave – forgotten them, in fact.  Well, I barely knew them to begin with.  Sam was tall, blond, nice smile.  A well done hamburger with fries; Dave was shorter with shaggy brown hair that he often pulled back.  He liked his cheeseburger rare with onion rings.  Both drank Coke.  One of them drove my favorite car, a 1974 Datsun 240Z.  Blue.

“Great, we’ll pick you up Saturday at 10,” one of them said.  Was it Dave?  He and Sam were on separate extensions and kept finishing each other’s sentences like an old married couple.

“Yeah, Steve gave us the address along with your number.   See you Saturday!” said the other – Sam, I guessed.  And then they hung up.

They didn’t leave a number so I couldn’t call them back.  For that matter, they didn’t leave their last names.  First names, a car (cool as it was) and burger preferences.  That was all I knew.  Yet I had just agreed to spend the weekend with them at the Cape.

At only 19, I hadn’t done too many stupid things with guys yet.  So I called my older sister, Judy, 24, who had.

“This is ridiculous,” I told Judy, pacing back and forth across my tiny apartment like a bobcat in the zoo. “I can’t possibly go.  I don’t know who they are.  And I can’t possibly call them back – they didn’t leave their number.  They didn’t leave their last names.  They didn’t even tell me where I just agreed to go.   God, this has all the makings of a Hitchcock picture.”

“Are you Tippi Hedren or Janet Leigh?”  Jude roared at her own joke.  “You’ve known these two cute guys for three years and never went out with them?  Either of them?  Or both of them – together?” she teased.  “God you’re boring.  You’d be Doris Day in a Hitchcock movie.”

“I’m just going to have to talk to them when they get here on Saturday.”

“Ok,” said Jude, swallowing her laugh. “You’ll talk to them on Saturday.  Good plan,” she burst out again, “especially because you can’t talk with them before that because you didn’t get their number,” she said, gasping for breath.

I began to relax.  Somehow, when I told my troubles to Judy, they stopped being problems and became situation comedy.

“You’re a huge help.  I’ll call you back next time I need abuse.”

“Anytime,” Judy said, hanging up.

I spent Friday at work bouncing between laughing and worrying.  I didn’t pack.  Of course I wouldn’t go with them – I didn’t even know their last names!

At 10 am Saturday the doorbell rang.  “Shit.”

“We’re here,” Dave or Sam said through the intercom system.  Another reason not to go – I couldn’t keep them straight.  I buzzed them in, and took a deep breath.  I still didn’t know what to do.

Did it take an hour for them to climb the two flights or were they upstairs in a flash?  Suddenly I felt queasy.  “Oh God,” I thought as I shut the bathroom door, “what would Judy do?”  I sat on the toilet for the longest time, trying not to panic.  At last, I smiled, shrugged and said “oh, what the hell.”  I walked back into the main room and said “I’m not quite done packing, but I’ll be just a minute.”

I threw a bathing suit, a change of clothes, and a couple of other things in a backpack.  “There’s just one thing,” I said, smiling at my dates,  “I’d love to drive the Z.”

*     *     *

Me, Judy, and Beth, a while ago


Filed under Driving, Family, Humor, Stupidity