A Tale as Old as Time

To quote the words of the great Kat Stratford from the hit movie 10 Things I Hate About You, “I guess in this society, being male and an asshole makes you worthy of our time.” This is true today, back in 1999, and even in 1882. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this suggestion from an 1882 etiquette book. If a lady did not respond to a gentleman caller or at least did not respond in the timeframe he deemed appropriate, he was encouraged to send the following follow up message:

I’m not sure if Agnes ever responded to desperate Ed, the “nice guy” that he is, but I’d like to imagine it went a little something like this:

My dear self-proclaimed admirer,

It does come as a surprise to me that you have been plagued with such vexing anxiety, ruminating on why I have not acknowledged your pitiful attempt at chivalry. But alas, you are mistaken to think that I have wasted even a modicum of my precious time pondering a response to your countless letters. One might think you had invested in a paper mill given the number of letters I have received in the post in just four days’ time. To quell any qualms, suspicions, or apprehensions of my wellbeing, let me assure you that I am hale and hearty. In fact, there has never been a moment in my life when I have felt more elated, content, and jolly. It is as if a weight to which I had become accustomed was suddenly lifted. And if by some misfortune, I do fall ill, let it be from imbibing the choicest of wines and feasting upon the bounties of our earth with my lady companions.

If you persist in sending me such missives, I shall have no choice but to accidentally drop my candle near your dwelling. As the flames engulf your abode, I shall stand afar and rue my idle nature, wishing I could do something, anything to help. But alas, I shall not even spit upon the fire in hopes of quenching it. May your desires and your foolish presumptions turn to ashes and dust.

Never thine,


I know, I know.  This is why I’m still single.



Finding the Answers

We live in a golden age.

Sure, there are still people who die every day from hunger, despite there being enough food in the world to feed everyone. Okay, yeah there always seems to be war breaking out. Russia, we’re looking at you. You’re right, political corruption seems to be at an all-time high. Yes, we seem to be slipping back to a time when Nazis were running wild. But at least we live in a golden age where information and answers are at the tip of our fingertips. What a time to be alive!

Let me give you a prime example. Have you ever wondered how peanut butter is made? Buckle up peanut butter cup, ’cause it’s a breeze:

  • Step one: Fire up YouTube.
  • Step two: Search for “How is peanut butter made?”
  • Step three: Watch as many videos as your heart desires until you’re a peanut butter-making pro!

Or, if you have a lot of time on your hands:

  • Step one: Summon the mighty Google.
  • Step two: Search for “How is peanut butter made?”
  • Step three: Dive into a sea of articles until you’ve absorbed all the peanutty knowledge you crave!


  • Step one: Just ask ChatGPT, the wizard of all knowledge, “Tell me how to make peanut butter in the simplest and quickest way!”
  • Step two: Voila! You’re whipping up homemade peanut butter to sell at the farmer’s market like a boss.

It’s that easy.

Did you know that when Betty White was still alive (sadly she didn’t live forever as we all hoped and thought she would) she was older than sliced bread? Literally. I’m not making a “she’s so old joke,” but if I were, it would be funny and factual.

You know how I learned this? I wondered what year she was born. In less than ten seconds I had my answer: 1922.

When was sliced bread created? 1928.

Where am I going with this you may be asking yourself. Well, the point is, nowadays if you have a question or you’re not sure about something, finding the answer is so unbelievably easy. A few keystrokes and you’re there at the doorstep of your answer.

“Back in my day,” said in an old folk’s voice, if you wanted to know something, it was a much harder task.

Again, sticking with peanut butter (hope nobody is allergic) if you wanted to know how it was made you had to:

  • Open your phone book.
  • Find the number to the nearest peanut butter plant.
  • Call the plant’s office.
  • Ask if they give tours. Phew, they give tours! Fantastic! Note down the date and time.
  • Wait till the day and time they’re giving tours.
  • Go to bed early.
  • Wake up early.
  • Wake up the kiddos.
  • Get everyone in the car.
  • Unfurl your map and trace out the quickest route to the factory.
  • Realize that you need a magnifying glass to see this godforsaken map.
  • Retrace the quickest route to the factory.
  • Start your road trip.
  • Halfway there, get a flat tire.
  • Lose interest as you wait for a tow truck.
  • Yell at the kids for getting on your nerves.
  • Yell at your spouse for getting on your nerves.
  • Decide you don’t really care how peanut butter is made.
  • Get a divorce.


  • Go to the library.
  • Sign up for a library card.
  • Go searching for books related to peanuts and the process of making peanut butter.
  • Hope that this type of book isn’t already taken, forcing you to wait for someone else to return it.
  • The book is there! Read it.
  • Answer found.

Maybe even…

  • Ask that pretentious cousin who brags about canning their own vegetables.
  • Spend over two hours on the phone with said cousin.
  • Take copious notes and equal shots of vodka while navigating through the family gossip you’ve thus far been able to avoid just to get to the needed recipe.
  • Spend the next 10 years wondering why your peanut butter always comes out wonky.
  • Finally realize that your cousin doesn’t know how to make peanut butter.

What I’m trying to say is, there’s no excuse to not know things nowadays, especially things that you can easily look up for yourself.

The other day I saw this post in my Agatha Christie Poirot group on Facebook where some young person was confused when a movie star was mentioned in an episode because… they didn’t think there were televisions in Hercule Poirot’s time. So how could they watch a movie?

I digress here for a moment to say that Agatha Christie wrote the Hercule Poirot stories from 1920 to 1972 and, for the most part, they were set in the year in which they were written. The televised adaptations (with the incomparable David Suchet, pictured) were all set in the 1930s (for whatever reason). Now, the TV was invented in 1927, but movies have been around even before then with the first moving picture dating back to 1895. You may not know this (but you should cause…Google), but film and television are also two different things. You don’t need a television to watch films (no, really, it’s true), and they certainly didn’t need them back in the day.

Luckily, someone with much more patience and understanding than me chimed in to explain that yes, there were movies back in the day, but they were called films and they were shown in this thing called a cinema. The original poster ended up laughing at themselves and saying “obviously I’m from the streaming generation.” As if that explained it all away.

I realize that the Facebook group is meant for socializing and whatnot, but why not look up something like this before posting a question for public critique? I mean, for the love of Pete, you have the knowledge of the world at your fingertips. Another person, equally as kind as the first – and loads nicer than me – said there are no stupid questions. Really? Are you sure about that?

All I could think of were the America’s Funniest Videos clips where parents watch their kids struggling with a rotary phone or a rolodex. Rather than feeling “smart,” my having the knowledge that films did and can in fact exist without the need for a television somehow made me feel… old. And that was unexpected.

A Modern Horror Story

Once upon a time, there was a curmudgeonly recluse named Wendy (Keep in mind, this is a made-up name for someone I don’t know… a fictitious person in fact. Yes, a fictitious person. This is in no way about me. I was not involved in this story. Nope. Wasn’t me.) who needed to go grocery shopping. As a raging people-hater introvert, she dreaded any form of interaction with strangers, but she couldn’t avoid this essential task any longer.

Upon arriving at the local big-box store, she was greeted by an annoyingly friendly worker who offered her some samples of a new type of granola. Wendy politely declined, but the worker drew closer and insisted, not unlike the witch in Snow White pawning off her poisoned apple, saying that it was delicious and that she just had to try it. It was only $7.99 for a 4 ounce bag, don’t you know? Wendy relented – albeit through gritted teeth and took a sample, only to discover that it tasted like cardboard mixed with sawdust. Blech. She quickly walked away, cursing herself for that slight hesitation in her step as she passed the sample stand and fervently hoping to avoid any further encounters with overly enthusiastic workers.

As she made her way down the first aisle, Wendy noticed a small, cute dog of the normal non-therapy variety riding in someone else’s cart. Wondering why on earth someone would bring a non-therapy dog into a place with food but happy she would get to meet a dog (maybe the day wouldn’t be so bad after all), she slowed down. Uh-oh. The dog was barking and growling at everyone who walked by, and even not so sneakily trying to get in a quick bite if people got too close. Disappointed at the fact that there was a dog she couldn’t pet, Wendy tried to avoid the cart, but unfortunately, it was parked right in front of the cereal she needed. Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter, if you’re wondering. So, she decided to take a deep breath and move quickly, grabbing the box of cereal and running away before the dog could get to her.

Being a little too graceless to really move quickly, when she turned to stay out of reach of the pup’s biters, Wendy slammed right into what had to be Bigfoot’s cousin or else a Hell’s Angel member – to say this guy was big and burly and hairy is an understatement. The impact caused his basket to crash to the floor and oranges (Really, oranges? I mean I guess no one wants scurvy, even Bigfoot’s cousin) went flying everywhere.  Desperate to escape the awkward situation, but raised to be polite, Wendy started picking up oranges while trying to duck and dodge the tiny terror’s snappy teeth. However, her new t-shirt was no match for the dog’s vicious chompers, and it got caught in his mouth. The owner got angry because “Why are you messing with my dog!? How did your t-shirt end up in my precious little boo-boo’s teefies? You’re going to pull out his teeth!” Rather than point out the obvious, that their precious little boo-boo badly needed anger management classes – and maybe the owner did too – Wendy just stuttered something to the effect of “Cute dog you have there. Nice teeth… and quick too.”

And if that wasn’t bad enough, when she bent down to grab the last of Bigfoot’s wayward oranges, her pants split right down the middle, exposing her neon-colored undies for everyone to see. The man just shrugged it off, saying “Looks like a typical Tuesday to me.” What does that even mean!? It was a Saturday for Pete’s Sake.  With a face as red as her striped underpants, Wendy fled the scene, trying to keep her pants from falling down and praying that nobody recognized her as the pant-splitting, dog-attacked fruit-picker-upper.

Taking a deep breath and steeling herself for what may come, Wendy made her way to the frozen section, where she encountered a group of snotty-nosed children sitting in the ice cream freezer. Now there’s something you don’t see every day. And we’re not using “snotty-nosed children” as a derogatory term… they really were snotty-nosed. Presumably because of the arctic climate in which they now found themselves. They were giggling and making such a mess that despite a craving that only rocky road could satisfy, Wendy opted to bypass the frozen confection and hit the yogurt case instead. Eat healthy indeed. Pfft. I mean it’s okay if you want to do it, but not so much if it’s because of goblins are camped out in the damn freezer case right next to the rocky road. Parents these days.

Muttering not so under her breath, she called it a day and made her way to the checkout lanes, only to discover that there were no cashiers available. She groaned inwardly, knowing that this meant she would have to use the self-checkout machines. As she scanned her items and bagged them, she couldn’t help but feel frustrated at how long it was taking. Which makes sense, since she missed the new-employee training session for cashiering. Every other item heard the dreaded “place the last item in the bagging area” even though the freakin’ thing was already in the bagging area. Did you know that yelling “it’s IN the bagging area!” louder and louder at the self-check-out does nothing to hasten your escape… instead it just causes people to stare. Yeah, well. Now you know.  And when she finally tallied up the cost of her meager haul, she was shocked to discover that she had spent almost $250 for only five meals’ worth of groceries. And yogurt. Not even rocky road. Ugh.

As I left the store… wait… I mean, as WENDY left the store, she couldn’t help but wonder why she bothered leaving her house in the first place. Amazon Fresh may be capitalism at its finest, but at least the groceries are delivered with no interaction whatsoever.

In her diary later that evening, she would recount in colorful terms how she survived the dreaded grocery shopping trip. It may have felt like a comedy of errors – or more like a modern-age horror tale – but she had managed to do it all while losing only a pair of pants and not her mind. And she would feel proud for having ventured into the wild world of grocery shopping. Even if she wouldn’t be doing it again. Ever.



The Name Game

Have you heard of a business where people are paid to come up with baby names? Yeah, you read that right. Trust me, it’s a real thing. Apparently, there are individuals out there who have the audacity are savvy enough to charge parents thousands of dollars to come up with a name for their newborn child.

These baby-naming services apparently require no special qualifications, except perhaps a knack for Googling the origins of names and a touch of creativity. And a great marketing team. If you have some cash lying around and don’t feel like naming your own child, you can simply outsource the task to these so-called “experts.”

Because of course the uber-wealthy would outsource naming their child… just like they outsource pretty much everything else.

I don’t know about you, but I find the idea of paying someone to name my child a bit ridiculous. It’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your child, and you’re just going to hand it off to someone else? Plus, what happens when your child grows up and finds out that their name was purchased from a stranger because you couldn’t be bothered? Awkward!

Now, if you’re like me and have no interest in coming up with baby names, but still want to make a quick buck, there’s a better option: naming pets. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend their days coming up with clever names for adorable floofs? And really, if rich people can’t find the wherewithal to name their own kid, do you think they’re going to name their pet? Doubtful.

You could be the next big thing in the pet-naming world. Your days would be filled with thinking up hilariously perfect names like Sir Pounce-a-Lot or Lady Fluffernutter or Larry. You’d be the go-to person for anyone looking for a fun and creative name for their furry friend. And the best part? You wouldn’t have to worry about the pressure of naming a human being.

Although, if you ask me, naming a pet is a great deal harder than naming a child. Basically, you’re dealing with a tiny, fluffy dictator who demands a name worthy of their unique personality. Of course, I mean the pet. Not the owner. And unlike naming a child, you can’t just pick a name that you think sounds nice and hope for the best. With pets, you have to consider things like their fur color, their breed, their favorite toy, and their weird little quirks. It’s a delicate balance between silly and serious, cute and cool, and something that won’t make you cringe every time you have to call them. Okay, well, it may sound like the same thing as naming a kid, but it isn’t. It just isn’t. No need to trample all over my dreams.

Seriously, though. This pet naming business idea is mine, so keep your grubby paws off. I’m already on my way to the bank with my epic business plan, ready to beg for a loan to pay for my dream team of marketing gurus. And if you’re rich and lazy and thinking of getting a dog or a gerbil or a fancy cricket… just have your people get in touch with my people and we’ll make the name thing happen.

Glazed and Confused

Eat better, the doctors say. Strive for a healthier lifestyle, the self-improvement articles say. Add more fruit and veggies to lower your cholesterol and extend your life – such as it is. Yeah, right. You can’t trust fruits and vegetables, if you ask me. Take apples, for example. They may look crisp and juicy, but when you take a big bite, they can be all squashy – kind of like a soggy old sock… and then you see the half a worm and can’t help but obsess over where the other half is headed. Blech. And avocados? Don’t even get me started. You leave those bad boys out on the counter for ten seconds and suddenly they’re all brown and slimy, like they’ve been sitting in a swamp for a week. And bananas, oh bananas. They can look so good on the outside, but inside, they’re sometimes mushier than a pile of wet noodles. Yuck. You know what never lets me down? Donuts.

Every time I sink my teeth into one of those sweet, doughy rings, it’s like a choir of angels starts singing. I’m not a religious person, but that should mean something, right?

Meanwhile, the apples are turning brown, the avocados are going bad faster than my ex’s personality, and the bananas I just bought a day ago are too far gone to even make banana bread. But you know who’s always there for me? My trusty donuts. So bring on the sugar rush, baby, because I’m sticking with my fried friends ’til the end.



Aging Like Fine… Cabbage

I just made myself some fried cabbage. Yep. At 10:00. At night. Fried cabbage at this hour is like playing a rigged game of Russian roulette with your digestive system. It’s not a matter of if, but when the rumbling and gurgling will start. So forget about enjoying that delicious goodness without paying the price later. It’s like our stomachs have become traitors in our golden years. It’s enough to make you want to cry into your bowl of bland, flavorless oatmeal. Oh, the joys of aging. Who needs roller coasters and bungee jumping when you can live on the edge by eating fried cabbage at 10 pm?

As we get older, our bodies betray us at every turn. We used to be able to eat anything we wanted without giving it a second thought. We could chow down on a giant burrito at midnight and be ready for a marathon the next day. But now, even the thought of a spicy meal after 7 pm can send our digestive system into a tailspin.

It’s not just about food either. Remember the days when we could stay up all night partying with friends and still function like a normal human being the next day? Now, just one glass of wine can leave us feeling like we’ve been hit by a truck. That’s our bodies telling us, “Sorry, just give it up, those days are over. You’re officially old.” If you need any confirmation at all, just go to the grocery store. Our music – the music we listened to as we danced the night away – is now playing on the speakers. Talk about adding insult to injury.

And don’t even get me started on the aches and pains. It used to be that we could bend over and touch our toes without even thinking about it. Now, we have to carefully stretch out every muscle just to tie our shoes. It’s like we’re slowly turning into the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.

But perhaps the cruelest irony of aging is the toll it takes on our love of food. The days of devouring an entire pizza without batting an eye are behind us.  Now, we have to think twice before indulging in anything remotely spicy or greasy… weighing the risks against the deliciousness of the meal. Is it worth it?  Is it really? And even if we do give in to our cravings, we know we’ll be paying for it later.

No matter how much we fight it – with some of us kicking and screaming all the way to the plastic surgeon – aging and all the downsides that come with it, is inevitable. So, we might as well find humor in the absurdity of it all. After all, laughter is the best medicine. Or so they say. Even if it doesn’t do much for our digestion.

And who knows, maybe someday we’ll stumble upon the elusive fountain of youth and be able to enjoy our favorite foods with reckless abandon once again. Until then, we’ll just have to make do with the blandest of meals and the earliest of bedtimes. Blech. But hey, at least we’ll be able to laugh about it over a shared tub of Tums.

The Problem with Cats

I have a literal pet peeve that I just have to share, mainly because it confuses the hell out of me more than it annoys me. Actually, no, that’s not true. It annoys me a lot.

Obligatory disclaimer: I love my cats. They’re my furry children…okay…well not quite… but they ARE my fuzzy confidants, my purring comrades. I love, love, love them.

At the same time, I hate my cats. Okay, now hear me out. Any cat lover will understand this paradox. What I specifically hate is when I find them staring at nothing. I’ll be reading on my couch or thumbing through a magazine in bed and I peer over to see them sitting docilely facing what?  An empty corner, that’s what. Or they’re perched as stoically as a Buckingham Palace guardsman gazing intently….and I mean INTENTLY… at a blank patch of ceiling.

The obvious thing to think is that maybe they’re looking at something really tiny. But I get up and check. Not once have I found the object of their scrutiny. I would expect a tiny bug stuck in a spider web or a piece of fluff dancing in the breeze. Nope. Just empty space. Sometimes, after I have paused the movie or put down the book, climbed up on a chair to peer at the ceiling like a demented Mr. Magoo and I’m sitting back down, they are done staring at whatever it was and are now looking at me, with dare I say, humor in their eyes. As if to say “ha! gotcha!” But I can never be sure. So every time, I’m back up on that chair, checking out the ceiling. Like a fool. 

And then there are those times when they’re happily playing with….nothing. Absolutely nothing. So what is drawing their undivided attention? And just who or what are they playing with!? It vexes me and then I get annoyed because I often get frustrated when I don’t understand something. Not to mention it’s just plain creepy.

What’s even worse (and something else I’m sure cat owners can attest to) is when I wake up in the morning — or worse yet in the middle of the night — to find their huge dilated eyes only inches from mine as their feline vision bores into me. I have no clue how long they have been there staring at me. And regardless of that, it bothers me to think about what could be going through their heads. Something tells me they’re not thinking, “Wow, I’m so glad Wendy takes care of me. She’s so, so good. She’s the best.” More than likely they’re hatching some fiendish plan to overthrow me as head of the household and becoming their own cat powered sovereign state. 

It’s said that many of our domesticated animals have a sixth sense; something that feels a presence that we humans can’t pick up on. Maybe when my cats are staring at “nothing,” they are actually being entertained by a ghost or some invisible demon or entity that I just can’t see. I simply refuse to go down that path because I just do not have time to worry about unpaying house guests hanging about the place along with everything else I’ve got on my plate. All I can hope is that if they are seeing spirits maybe, just maybe, those invisible beings like me and will tell my cats not to stage a coup. But knowing my luck, they’d probably just team up to take me down.

Don’t let that pretty face fool you.



Survival of the Not-So-Fittest

Ah, staff meetings. The bane of every introvert’s existence. There’s nothing quite like being stuck in a room with a bunch of extroverted folks you barely know, all vying for the spotlight. I’ve had my fair share of staff meetings, and let me tell you, they’re not my favorite thing in the world.

First, there’s the whole “small talk” thing. As a group introverts are not exactly known for our ability to chitchat with strangers and I’m the queen of not-having-the-ability-to-chitchat. But in all-staff meetings, it’s expected. And did I mention that I hate chitchat?  While everyone else is talking about their weekend plans or the latest TV show they’re obsessed with, I’m sitting there silently, wondering when we can get down to business so I can go home.

Then, there’s the inevitable moment when someone asks for my input. I always try to come up with something intelligent to say, but half the time, I end up stumbling over my words and sounding like a complete idiot. I mean, I guess it’s better than fact-dumping on serial killers of the Midwest or Bigfoot sightings around the world. Which, as you can see, is why I normally keep myself to myself. My coworkers think I’m quiet and demure when in reality, I just don’t think they’d appreciate my contribution to the “what did you watch last night” conversation.

Oh joy, there’s a group brainstorming session. No mention of that in the agenda. You know the drill – someone writes a question on a whiteboard and then everyone else starts shouting out ideas. I find this process incredibly overwhelming. Even when I’m familiar with the subject – experienced even, I need time to think and process information, and the pressure of coming up with ideas on the spot is almost painful. I find that I can survive this part of Hell the meeting so long as we stay in one large group… it’s when we’re forced to break off into subgroups that the situation turns dire. Because the smaller the group, the more you have to participate. Despite appearances, it’s not that I don’t have anything to say. My brain is full of ideas, whether for good or bad, it’s just that I’m not overly fond of fighting the increasingly raised voices of my A-personality colleagues clamoring to impress the meeting facilitator.

After lunch – which for me consisted of a makeshift salad made from the dry lettuce, tomato, and onion meant for the burgers that were served buffet style, because the event planner forgot to order a vegetarian meal – there was a team building exercise with an all-new meeting facilitator. Just what I wanted to do on an almost empty stomach.

As we all gathered in the conference room, I tried to shrink back into the shadows, hoping no one would notice me. You know, as one does. But of course, the team building leader spotted me at once and called me out, asking me to “start us off” by introducing myself to the group. I stuttered out a few words about my job title and some hobbies that I absolutely do not take part in, but remembered hearing about somewhere, feeling my face turn bright red as all eyes turned to me. In these impromptu autobiographical open-mike moments, I can never seem to recall anything whatsoever about myself, which is amazing really, considering I’ve known myself for forever.

Once they broke up into groups to make their way around the various “escape room” style activities that had been set up around the conference room, I made my own escape and nicked off to the bathroom.  I may have stayed there a bit longer than necessary and then I may have taken a detour past the vending machine.

Unfortunately, I had obviously misjudged the time, because instead of getting back in time to say our goodbyes, I slipped into the room just as the facilitator announced that we would be playing a game of “Two Truths and a Lie,” where we would each share three statements about ourselves, and the group would have to guess which one was the lie. Much more socially acceptable than truth or dare, but not one of my favorites, mostly because of the aforementioned problem with remembering anything about my life. And quite honestly, this is usually the sort of icebreaker that plays out at the start of a meeting, not at the end. Well played, Mr. Facilitator. Well played indeed.

So of course, I did what anyone would do, I panicked. What could I say that was interesting enough to grab the group’s attention, but also not too revealing? I racked my brain for ideas, feeling the pressure mount with each passing second. Just as I decided that this would be the prime opportunity for another bathroom break, it was my turn. I took a deep breath and said, “Okay, here are my three statements: I once competed in a national chess tournament, I once partied with the members of Metallica, and I have a pet tarantula named Steve.”

The group stared at me in shock. Was I really a chess champion? Did I really have a pet tarantula? No one questioned the Metallica story… I’m not sure how to feel about that. As they deliberated, I started to feel a twinge of regret for making my statements so outlandish.

Finally, someone spoke up. “I’m guessing the lie is the tarantula,” they said. I let out a sigh of relief and nodded, grateful to have survived yet another staff retreat. I did learn one thing from all of this, though, and that’s to plan ahead. I can already feel myself getting sick this time next year.