Of Mice and, ummm, something else with an “M”

Years ago, Miss Barbara on Romper Room taught me to “Turn That Frown Upside Down!” when I was sad or angry.  Of course I was sad and angry every time I watched Romper Room because not once did Miss Barbara see an “Elyse” in her magic mirror.

She should have seen me in that damn mirror.  I was a good kid.  (Google Image)

She should have seen me in that damn mirror. I was a good kid. (Google Image)


Oops.  Sorry.  That isn’t what this post is about.

I’ve actually found over the years that for the normal level of bummed-out-ness, turning my frown upside down (TMFUD) is quite an effective anti-depressant.  It is even more efficacious when combined with a walk and/or singing.  If I TMFUD while walking and singing, I am a happy camper.  (Of course the other folks around me might not be quite so smiley.)

As I got older though, I found that TMFUD was less effective against the bigger things that life threw at me.  I needed something approaching “schadenfreude,” which, as you know, is taking pleasure in others’ misfortune.

Now, I don’t think that I ever really – even to this day – actually take pleasure in someone else’s misfortune.  I’m somewhat nicer than that.

But I do like to look at someone else’s troubles and balance them against my own.  Then I am much more willing to keep my own.  And I feel immensely relieved.

In the early 1980s, neither my sister Judy nor I were, umm, living the high life.  Life was one crisis after another for both of us.  I was sick and poor.  She was a young mother –that wasn’t the bad part — with no education, no prospects, and a shaky relationship with her husband.   She was also poor.

Her problems always seemed worse than mine, and she felt the same way about my troubles.   It made us content with our own struggles.  So, being sisters, we made our respective miseries and misfortunes something of a contest.

I called Jude one day with bad news about the state of my health and she stopped me before I’d gotten the “woe” out in “woe is me.”  Bitch.

“This morning,” Judy announced, “I woke up and went downstairs to make coffee.”  I could picture her standing with one hand on her hip, taking a drag from her cigarette.  “And do you know what happened as I walked across the cold floor in my bare feet?”

I knew it wasn’t going to be good.

“I stepped in mouse intestines — in my bare feet!”  Judy’s cat, Izzy, a prolific hunter, had brought home some spoils for the family.  “Nobody’s should start the day with mouse intestines between their toes.”

Google Image

Google Image

Judy was right — no day should start that way.  And that was when I co-opted the motto for my life:

Life is Good*

* As long as you don’t have mouse intestines between your toes.

I’ve never seen that Tee-shirt in the series.  I think they need to expand.

Anyway, sadly Judy is gone, and I’d kind of forgotten about my motto.

In the last six months while I’ve been under the weather, not having Judy’s misfortunes to compare mine to made feeling crappy much crappier.

But today I stumbled across a story that inspired me, just the way my sister Judy used to.  It made me feel that somebody is worse off than me.  And it made me glad that I have my own troubles, and not this woman’s.

Today I read a story about a woman whose situation makes me squirm.

A story that made me realize that things for me really aren’t so bad.

A story that turned my frown upside down.

It was an article about an unfortunate woman who, while vacationing in Peru, had a bit of bad luck.  A horn of plenty, running over with misfortune.  A veritable ear full of it.

A British woman returned from a holiday in Peru hearing scratching noises inside her head was told she was being attacked by flesh-eating maggots living inside her ear.


They aren't all this cute. (Google image, natch)

They aren’t all this cute.
(Google image, natch)

Those Tee-shirt guys need to snap this motto up fast.  Because really:

Life is good*

*As long as you don’t have flesh-eating maggots inside your ear.

Well, maybe life isn’t so good if you were eating when you read this.  Then, I just bet, life could be better.


Filed under Climate Change, Conspicuous consumption, Family, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, Humor, Science

71 responses to “Of Mice and, ummm, something else with an “M”

  1. Clinton

    Okay, I just lost my lunch. Let me know which hotel chain she stayed at so I can NEVER give them my business.


  2. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  3. I know of what you speak–not mouse intestines intertwined between my toes or maggot in my brain (although sometimes I wonder about that one)–but of feeling so rotten that you scrape pretty low in the barrel to make yourself feel, by comparison “blessed.”

    In my darkest days, I used to say, “Well at least I’m not a blind paraplegic.” “At least I don’t have to work as a roofer on 100 degree days with an aching back.” “At least I’m not one of those people who weighs 500 pounds and can’t get up without a fork lift. I can’t afford a fork lift.” Things like that. They made me feel marginally better.


  4. Whenever I start complaining about something my mother always said that if everyone put their problems in the middle of the room, I’d be happy to take my own back. I guess the woman with flesh eating maggots in her ears can take comfort in knowing how many other people she made feel better about their lives – that is if she can think straight over all the munching sounds she is hearing.


    • I love your mother’s philosophy because it is absolutely right. Better the devil you know …

      And you’re absolutely right, Paprika. I think Miss Maggot did quite a public service.


  5. Hahahaha!
    I like the way you made yourself feel not so bad…because it is true. When we see what others go through, our lot can seem much “better”.
    I don’t know..but I’m definitely going with Life is good without the flesh eating maggots in your ear” ..mouse intestines seem tolerable!


  6. My sister Madelynne always talks about her name not being called…too funny! I would happily take a fresh set of mouse intestines between my toes over flesh eating ear maggots. LIFE IS GOOD!


    • There are a million of us in the Romper Room Rejects club. You’re probably not in it, though Lisa. And I hope you at least lorded it over poor, sad Madelynne.

      It’s funny, isn’t it, how one’s perspective changes. 30 years ago, mouse intestines in my toes was the worst thing I could immagine; now it is flesh-eating maggots. I think life has progressed, ummm, somehow.


  7. A guy at work is always bringing us up to date on some newly discovered ‘horror’ found in a human body. There is a tv show about it I think, where worms get behind the eyeball or some such thing. Too gross.


  8. I wish you could see me squirming…from the mouse intestines all the way through the flesh eating maggots to the end. I am going to take a very hot shower.


    • So sorry to make you squirm, Michelle. BUT the whole point was that life is good because you don’t have the nasties. In fact, you don’t even need to think about them any more. At least not Neil you get your “life is good” tee


      • Michelle, you don’t need to squirm one little bit. Because I know that your life is good — no mouse intestines OR maggots. So I think you can be singing “Don’t worry, be Happy …”


  9. Awesome……..Just Awesome Share.I love it.Looking forward for more.Alex,Thanks.


    • Thanks so much, Alex H. But I am confused. You left that exact same comment for me before, and I saw it on a couple other blogs. Do be careful or somebody might think you are Spam!


  10. As Sweet Brown says, “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For Dat.” Methinks Miss Barbara should have just eloped with Mr. Green Jeans and we’d have been rid of two other maggots. Okay, that’s a bit harsh. Bitter feelings aside, I have learned and practically perfected (seriously) the art of attitudinal adjustment. I no longer allow life and it’s challenges to set me back. At all. We get up and move on. It’s as simple as that. Or we can choose to wallow… Which reminds me of a Jim Morrison lyric…


  11. Thank god I’m a slacker. If I were a competitive over-acheiver, I’d feel a need to outdo maggot woman.
    And I’m pretty sure I could.

    Life is good*

    *as long as you can let some things roll by


    • I’m glad you’re a slacker, too Guap. Because I wouldn’t want to know what would be worse than flesh-eating maggots in one’s ear.

      I like your slogan.


  12. Gad! Good luck to the British lady.

    Nonetheless, good point. After all, every thing is a matter of perspective.


    • From the article, it sounds as if the doctors were able to fix get rid of them. Yuck.

      But absolutely, Frank. Life is all about perspective. My personal perspective is often just a bit off-kilter!


  13. My husband and I call people who always have a better story (good or bad) one-uppers. As you point out, they help keep things in perspective.

    Sorry to hear about your sister. Anyone who withstands mouse intestines entwined between her toes sounds like a very special person indeed!


  14. bigsheepcommunications

    You know, I’m feeling pretty good about my life after reading this post, so thanks 😀


  15. Yeah, I never heard my name on Romper Room either.

    But at least I don’t have flesh-eating maggots inside my head. The day is still young, though.


  16. Sometimes when I am not feeling up to snuff I watch “Real Life Stories from the ER” or something like that. One of them was of an immigrant couple from one of the South American countries, the husband was trying to pray the wife well, convinced his wife was possessed. No, instead she had worms in her brain.

    Next Tee for you: Life is Good * As long as you don’t have worms in the brain.

    Elyse, I think you have a new business opportunity! Tee shirt mottos for those of us who need a quick pick me up! What a great idea.

    Thanks for this one.


  17. Maggots. In the ear is no way to start or end the day. There’s just no good time to fit that in really.


  18. Great post. My takeaway from it is TMFUD. That’s a great concept isn’t it?

    If I may, I could suggest that whenever you feel like frowning, bring your attention to your left foot and hold it there fro a minute. And Hey Presto! What do you feel?



    • That might depend on just how close I get my frown to my foot, and how long I have to hold it there. It might cheer me up, or I might rupture something!

      Thanks for playing along, Shakti!


  19. I had forgotten all about Romper Room. And yes, the quickest way I have found to feel better is to think about how good I really have it, despite this or that. Yes my foot is broken, but I’ve got good pain pills. I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and a reliable car (that I’ll be able to drive again in time). And no flesh eating maggots in my ear!


  20. You know what’s scary? As soon as you mentioned you’d read an article, I knew it was going to be the one about flesh-eating ear maggots.


  21. Mouse intestines between my toes would only qualify as a minor inconvenience: I’d just say “yuck”, wipe the floor and head for the shower. Of course, it’s much worse being the mouse in this scenario.


  22. Another beautifully written story. Wonderful post. I do hope you are feeling better. But, geez, that’s creepy, Elyse–flesh-eating maggots growing in her head. Worse than eating while reading this, I’m in the process of getting ready to head off to Peru!


  23. I think that the mouse intestines sound preferable!! Eek! You know that Romper lady never said my name either, my brother Max had a crush in her and would practically whisper his own name as she looked in the mirror every day – she never saw him either. Scam!


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