Friday, March 14, 2014

(Ask Auntie) Yes, You Are!

Dear Aunty Scary,

A woman where I work seems to be going through a rough patch right now. I’m not exactly sure what it is. Office gossip has two different stories going. Some people are joking about placing bets. (I hope they’re joking!)

Naturally I’m curious. I also think it would be helpful to her if the rest of us knew what’s going on. Can you give me a polite way to ask?

Not Nosy Just Curious

Dear Nosy,

Nope. I can’t, because there isn’t one.

(And yes, you are being nosy.)

You didn’t explain how you know your coworker is in distress. If she’s missing a lot of work, it could be a child or a spouse or a family member who has the problem.

I’m assuming that she doesn’t have visible bruises or bandages. If her eyes are red, that could be allergies as much as it could be tears. Or she could just be tired because she’s spending her nights binge-watching that terrific TV show everyone was talking about last week.

The thing is, none of the above is any of your business, nor is it your business if she really is in distress. Since you’ve made it clear that she is a coworker and not a friend, and since this is a business relationship, Auntie suggests that you mind yours.

But there is one thing you can do, provided that you can do it in good faith. Are you ready? Here it is:

You can offer to help in a specific way with a specific activity, and add that you’re also willing to be of some further unspecified work-related assistance.

Don’t say “Let me know if I can help.” Auntie hates that. It’s too vague. Besides, if your coworker felt comfortable asking for help, she would have done so already.

Make an offer that’s particular enough that she knows you’re sincere, and open ended enough that if she has something else that needs doing, she might mention it as an alternative.

And who knows? If you do end up working together to get her stuff done, you might find that you also get to know each other well enough that your curiosity is satisfied.

Auntie trusts that you won’t take advantage of that in the betting pool.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Many, Many, Many, Many, Many Returns

Yeah, I had another birthday.

Of course I did. Had I not, I wouldn’t be able to type. That’s neither here nor there. Let’s talk about celebrations.

I’m not opposed to making a fuss. Your Auntie is neither modest nor self-effacing, as the mere fact of having a blog attests.

But to celebrate, or not to celebrate? That is the question.

As I explained to a charming young friend of ours; when you do anything fifty-two times in a row (yes even that) the fifty-third time isn’t going to be noteworthy. It can be good, but it probably won’t be noteworthy.

Besides, Auntie is lazy and celebrating properly is a lot of effort. Still, even the laziest human slug can manage an unhealthy level of self-indulgence.

In my case, that involved consuming heart-throttling amounts of fat, sugar and salt.

Happy sigh.

It was a celebration of a sort. I got a tip about a doughnut place that makes blueberry doughnuts even superior to the formerly nonpareil blueberry doughnuts in Victorville.

That’s where we went, and my oh my, it turned out to be true. Heaven!

The bad news is that this angelic new-to-me doughnut place is five minutes away from where we live and I only allow myself those kinds of treats at significant annual intervals. Now whenever I go through that intersection, which I do semi-daily, I will yearn tragically.

Sigh-y sigh.

Oh well. Happy birthday to me.

Friday, March 7, 2014

T'Ain't Funny, McGee

Dear Stand-Up Chick from last night,

I’m delighted that you find my demographic amusing, especially considering that -- unless tragedy strikes, godforbid -- you will eventually become one of us middle-aged women.

However, if you are going to target a single member of your audience for most of your show, you might want to pick one who isn’t the butt of most of your humor.

Speaking on behalf of all women of a certain age (53 next week, but who’s counting?) yes, we do carry large purses. In itself, that is not funny.

It's a set-up for funny.

In order to make the leap to funny, you have to offer a humorous reason why our purses are so large. For example, I might suggest that at my age, I require hydraulic level maintenance equipment that takes up a lot of space.

Or perhaps I’d point out that buckets of spackle (or maybe bondo. No, spackle is funnier) are bulkier than the delicate powder compacts younger women carry to touch up their make-up.

Hell, you could even imply that we all tote around a spare set of dentures, or orthopedic shoes or a walker. I dunno. Something.

Then there’s all the stuff you don’t know about yet.

Like, how “You’re how old? Wow, you sure don’t look it” turns into “You look fine for your age” which, in turn, becomes the dreaded, “Yeah, that’s about what I thought.”

Or simply what it feels like when someone who is two years off from being half your age complains about feeling old.

Don’t worry, I saw the camera and realized that this was going to be your reel. I laughed when I could and smiled when I didn’t laugh.

You’re very welcome.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ode To Oleo

It started with a dollop of mayonnaise the size of a double-scoop cone from Swensen’s.

(If you don’t remember Swensen’s, you can check Wikipedia while the grownups visit.)

The pretty young thing sitting at the counter was complaining that “places in LA never use enough mayonnaise. Can I please have some more?”

The guy making the sandwich dolloped a big ol’ glob onto the already well-mayo’ed bread. It was an absurdly huge dollop, an ironically sarcastic dollop, presumably intended to shut her up. Of course it didn’t.

“A little more, please?”

Eventually they reached deli détente. Let me tell you, even from where I was sitting, that sandwich looked bizarre. The mayonnaise stratum was about an inch thick. Like I said, I could see it from most of the way across the room.

The pretty young thing was burbling happily. Apparently, that’s how it’s done “back home”.

No, I’m not going to make a joke about American obesity. Besides, she was skinny.

I want to talk about childhood.

Unless you clicked to this page by accident, you already know I was born and bred right here in Los Angeles, CA. I grew up in the hippie-dippy sixties, whence carob came.

You don’t remember carob? Click over to Wikipedia again. We’ll wait. Carob was fairly disgusting, as I recall.

Be that as it may, no matter how far you’ve come or how much you changed in the process, the tastes and flavors of childhood go with you, tucked snugly into your subconscious next to “comfort” and “solace”.

Carob excepted, of course.

Make your own “comfort food” joke if you want to, I will not denigrate such a sacred phenomenon with base humor. Also I couldn’t think of a good one.

The pretty young thing mentioned above found happiness in her mayonnaise-squirting sandwich. It won’t make up for a failed audition (statistically likely) or a bad date (also possible, given how annoyed the guy with her looked) but comfort food does just that, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Now we can all go Wiki “oleo” and don’t grumble, it comes up in crossword puzzles all the time.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mentor Fresh

A very dear friend of mine who died recently used to raise Pekingese. Don’t ask me why Pekingese, I always just attributed it to a personal eccentricity, like her devotion to Yuban brand coffee.

Still, she did everything so well that her Yuban was delicious and her dogs were cool – as cool as Pekingese could be, anyhow.

She used to feed the Pekes boiled beef liver. I used to make fun of her for it.

I mean, come on, boiled beef liver? The smell alone makes you long for the meadow-y freshness of the Hollywood Freeway at rush hour.

And really, it’s enough of a bother to fix food for people, cooking a canine menu is just de trop, reminiscent of elderly spinsters with a bajillion cats all named Mr. Whiskers.

But I digress.

Her dogs, like my friend, lived for a very long time.

(Unlike she, the Pekes obviously had an excellent quality of life, but this is a happy blog so we’ll leave it at that.)

For all the ways I imitate her, both deliberately and inadvertently, the one I want the most is to have an average lifespan of 20 for my dogs.

Yes, I said “average”.

Yes, I said “20”.

Tasmania was 26, Brandy was at least 22 but we never knew for sure. Doozer was 24-25ish. That averages out to a hell of a lot more than 20 so don’t get on my case here. It’s Auntie-math, and anyhow I made my point.


What do you mean, why am I telling you all this?

I’m sorry, I thought you asked me why I’m boiling beef liver in a rainstorm when I have to keep the windows closed so the whole house stinks of boiled beef liver.

I also have some Yuban brewing. You’re welcome to stay for a cup.