Old Age is not for Sissies

That saying is old and trite, but true. When I was younger I thought old people were funny. I sympathized with their various issues, mostly difficulty in getting around and moaning when they arose from a chair. Little did I realize that was just the tip of the generational iceberg.

When I was a child and a teen, a year seemed like a long time and my energy seemed inexhaustible. When I entered high school, graduation, a mere four years hence, was barely conceivable.

It seems like only yesterday I celebrated my 55th birthday and said farewell to my office job and hello to a new chapter in my life. Even so, I’ve arrived at the point where I’m trying to decide how to celebrate my 72nd birthday. Napping? Getting dressed ad doing something fun with my daughters? Definitely, something fun. I’m not that old yet.

Did I say something about inexhaustible energy? Now I have inexhaustible exhaustion. And, that is just the beginning. Those chili dinners I used to enjoy? Hah! Well, maybe a small bowl – if I stock up on Maalox. Hike all day with one short bathroom break? How about walking a block with five bathroom breaks? Late to bed and early to rise, jump in the shower and head to work? Let’s make that early to bed – late to rise, still in my pajamas, leisurely sipping coffee while reading the newspaper.

All that time in front of the mirror to be sure my hair and make-up are impeccable? Remember those fashionable hair-dos, pillbox hats and little wool or linen suits with matching pumps that were popular in the 60s when we all tried to look like Jackie Kennedy? They’ve been replaced. My once steady hand now applies mascara with a paint brush. I can’t hit the target with anything smaller. Pillbox hates, suits and pumps? Hah! Jeans and a t-shirt are the uniform of the day, completed by a baseball cap and a dirty pair of New Balance walking shoes. That is, if I decide to get dressed.

Then there was yard work, mow the grass, rake the cuttings, weed the flower beds and trim the shrubs. How I step outside and notice a dandelion. Isn’t that bright yellow pretty against the tall, green grass? I say that bending and lifting are best left to younger folks. When I had a family to feel I cooked well-balanced, nutritious, delicious meals. Now there is no one else to feed, so a complete meal consists of eggs and hash browns with a few carrot sticks. And, if that is too much work, a peanut butter-spinach wrap works just as well.

I used to put on a pretty nightgown and brush my hair before retiring for the evening with the love of my life. Now, I jump in bed and cuddle up to my c-pap machine and a good book. There’s a lot to be said for drifting off to a story of someone else’s adventures.

When younger I would go to bed worried about what might happen and how I would cope with the latest emergency. Now, I go to bed and feel grateful that most of my body parts still work in a reasonable facsimile of the way they were designed. Perfection is for young people. Gratitude for a life (mostly) well-lived is for those of us who have been around the block a few times.
Sharon Dillon, January 23, 2018

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Surprising News

This morning I opened my email and began reading messages. Suddenly I saw this big headline:

“You should always consult with a physician before beginning any treatment for erectile dysfunction.”

Below was a photo of a handsome young man and a beautiful young woman obviously anticipating their impending pleasure. In the upper left corner the ad showed a blossom of three pills (Cialis, Levitra and Viagra) all pointing out with a red dot in the center and a caption reading:

“From $0.62 – Special Price – Order Now Men’s Trial Pack”

Then the picture shifted to a huge jet with its nose pointed at me, implying that I would soon have great elevation. This message was shorter:

“Fast delivery World Wide”

This ad might have been good news to some, but, it deflated my self-image. You see, I don’t have any body parts that need enhanced. I gave birth to three children, performed what has traditionally been considered women’s work and acted in ways that defined me as a woman.

But wait! This morning that email told me I am a man. Can this be true? Many people have told me that on-line advertisers target their ads to a specific audience who will use their products, so it must be true.

Do I need to buy tighty-whities instead of lacy undergarments and start watching sports and playing fantasy football? Perhaps I should take a lesson from my grandfather’s philosophy: “I don’t curse, drink or chew, nor associate with women who do.”  It would go well with the skill he taught me – how to roll cigarettes.

What’s a gal, er, guy to do?

© by Sharon D. Dillon, September 23, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy” Author of Echoes of your Choices, 2016, available as an e-book or paperback at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites.

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Voices of Williamsburg Toastmasters Club.

Tooth Fairy – Changed Tactics

It used to be that the Tooth Fairy gave boys and girls money for their teeth. Now he charges for his services. How did that come to be? I’m not sure, but this is my story and I’m sticking to it.

My parents grew up during the Great Depression. When they lost their baby teeth they were handed a clean rag to bite down on and complimented on growing up. By the 1950s when I lost my primary teeth, Ms. Tooth Fairy left me a dime for my first tooth and a nickel for the second. After that I was given a Kleenex and congratulated on my achievement. TF scolded me for attempted extortion when I asked for money for the other teeth that fell out. Actually, the lack of cash was beneficial. No money, no candy, no cavities. One question has nagged me over all these years. What does the Tooth Fairy do with all those teeth she collects?

Along came the 1970s and my children became more sophisticated. They wrote notes to the Tooth Fairy requesting a quarter and a rhyme.

Their efforts paid off. The Tooth Fairy left them 50 cents for their first tooth and 25 cents thereafter. Still not a fortune, but at least the Big Guy shelled out for each tooth and took time to write a short funny verse.

Tooth Fairy had to fly to Germany to look under my grandchildren’s pillows. Since TF has small wings, I’m guessing that she had to buy airline tickets for those trips. She couldn’t have had much cash left after all those trans-oceanic trips. Even so, I’m sure they made out pretty well.

Now my four great-grandsons are keeping him busy, dropping dollar bills under pillows, even for a tooth that slid down one little boy’s throat while he was eating. Other teeth have been dropped on the way to their pillows, but The Molinator* still deposits cash for every tooth.

I understand that inflation costs the Tooth Fairy more each generation. Everything else costs more. Why not teeth? However, I don’t understand why Tooth Fairy is now charging me to retrieve my recently lost tooth. Did she go broke serving all those little children? Was it a dollar fine for each time I forgot to brush my teeth at bedtime?

All I can do is explain how it all happened. A few months ago at my regular check-up my dentist gasped when he saw my x-ray. A cavity had formed under a crown on a 12-year molar. After assuring me that I was not ready to face a toothless old-age, he explained that the Tooth Fairy would need to return to dental college to learn how to replace a tooth.

After graduation TF began a procedure that included multiple x-rays and all sorts of strange equipment. The most traumatic event was her extraction of the affected tooth. When TF realized that I snore like a saw mill and that my exhalations have the power of a hurricane, she decided not to try a sleep extraction but to use an ordinary numbing medication.

She stabbed me several times with a syringe filled with happy juice. After a few minutes I was lying in the reclining chair smiling up at her with a cotton filled mouth. She firmly grasped the tooth and began tugging. Nothing happened. She tried again, wiggling the tooth a bit. Then harder and still nothing. Fianlly she grabbed a chisel and a hammer and broke the tooth in two. Pretty soon TF was leaning over me, tugging with all her might. Finally, she climbed on my chest to get a better grip, bracing my jaw with her knee to keep it from dislocating. Finally, the first half of the tooth popped out, almost banging TF on her own chin from her exertion. The second half slid out easily.

After all that TF inserted a place holder for the new tooth. From the sounds and her motions, I was able to visualize what was happening. First she used a Black and Decker electric drill to make a hole in the jaw bone. That didn’t take long. Then TF inserted a place-holder peg with a ratchet wrench. As her hand moved back and forth to tighten the peg I felt like I was under construction. When she completed this phase of my oral repairs I told TF what I had imagined. She confirmed my suspicion by saying that was exactly what had happened. Then she explained that she honed her skills at home by making wee doll houses using a full range of tiny construction tools. That analogy continued this morning when TF inserted my new tooth, ratcheting the permanent peg into place and sealing it with a caulking gun. Oh, the material is partially zirconian, so I now have a fake diamond smile. I even have a specially designed tooth brush. It looks like a teeny, tiny bottle brush.

When I asked for a $1 for my lost tooth, Tooth Fairy just rolled on the floor laughing. She reminded me that children’s teeth simply become loose and fall out. She just plucks the clean, dry teeth from under pillows. For all the trouble I gave her she demanded the title to my car and a second mortgage on my home. I’m sure the new tooth will be worth all the cost and effort. But, gosh, I can’t even go around to my friends and say, “See my new tooth.” It’s just not polite behavior for woman who has long since passed her 9th birthday.

*From ”The Santa Claus” movie series

© Sharon Dillon, April 12, 2016

Commuter Scooter

While walking through Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg a few days ago, I realized that some habits never die. I’ve always been a stroller, ambling down the sidewalk at a leisurely speed, stopping to admire flower gardens or window shopping. But that day I noticed that I was ducking and dodging and maintaining a speed about four times that of the average visitor.

Why was I in such a hurry? Well, my shift was over and I was heading to the parking lot. Then the realization hit me like a smack, I was navigating the crowd like I used to do when I commuted from Northwest Indiana to my job in downtown Chicago (Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive for those of you who know the city). In the mornings I moved quickly but usually had a few minutes to grab a coffee on my way to work.

Evenings were something else. I had just a short time, as did almost everyone on the sidewalk, to reach the train back to Indiana, and, hopefully, nab a good seat. I learned how to duck and dodge with the best of the horde. If I hadn’t, I would have to wait an hour for the next train.

One day my 6’2” son came with me to spend the day roaming the downtown area. At the end of the day when we left my office, I told him to stay with me or he’d miss the train. Since his legs were significantly longer than mine he gave me that perpetually exasperated look teens wear and said, “Okay, Mom.” Away we went. Halfway to the station I realized he wasn’t with me and looked back. He was stuck in a crowd about a half block behind. I told him to hurry up or we wouldn’t make it. You should have seen him climbing over people to catch up to me.

Until that realization I had dismissed another recent incident. During the summer my supervisor asked me to deliver a package to the front of the park. When I returned he asked, “How did you get there so fast?” My supervisor stands about 6’8” so the question baffled me. I replied, “I don’t know. I just didn’t fool around.”

So what is the secret I’ve discovered? At 5’3” my vision hits about shoulder level to most commuters and park visitors. That allows me to see gaps in the crowd that are just big enough for me to scoot through. Taller people see heads in front of them and don’t know where the gaps are.

For the first time in my life, I’ve found a benefit to being short. Hurrah! All short people join in, Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! All power (and speed) to short people!

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 31, 2015

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com.

Christmas Newsletter 2015

We all receive disgustingly cheerful newsletters listing dubious progeny accomplishments this time of year. Here is my contribution to the trend.

The holidays are upon us once again and our family has much for which to be grateful. We are finishing our Christmas shopping and eager to place our gifts under the tree that Husband dragged home yesterday. I’m not sure where he found it, but it smells like he found it at the county landfill. This tree is so scraggly that even Charlie Brown would reject it. The good thing is that the tree was easy to decorate. A single string of lights runs straight up the trunk and ends just below the star that is leaning precipitously to starboard. We were able to toss two strands of tinsel onto the limb stub. Three strands overloaded the stub and made the tree list to port.

Because of the economy, our gifts this year will be simple. Son #1 asked for a package of socks with extra wide tops to warm the lovely ankle bracelet generously given him by the judge. He finds the ankle bracelet attractive, but tends to fuss about the frostbite that forms on his leg. Additionally, he is beginning a trend by inspiring his friends and siblings to achieve his greatness. Already, three of his “buds” are sporting their own ankle bracelets. They cheerfully text each other about how many phone calls they are receiving from the police department when the bracelets set off bells at the station.

Son #2 is aspiring to earn his own bracelet, but so far is receiving only probation. He also wants extra wide-top socks so he will be prepared when his turn for a bracelet is approved. He also requested an ergonomic pillow for study hall naps. Classmates have learned not to criticize his snoring. His nap habit has contributed greatly to the economy as the school nurse’s office needs to keep a large stock of nose bandages.

We are so proud that Daughter #1 is achieving greatness at her high school. She passed chorus this year when the choir director generously agreed to accept her reggae version of “Stairway to Heaven” as an entry in the school’s alma mater contest. Luckily, the academic advisor has decided that she no longer needs to pass such courses as biology, math or history and will be graduating two years early. This daughter was easy to shop for, because she just asked for a year’s supply of black nail polish, black lipstick and green hair dye.

Daughter #2 won honors for selling the most Girl Scout cookies in her troop. She accomplished this by blackmailing her middle school teachers. I’m not sure where she found all that salacious information, but our family had fun reading it. It’s too bad the teachers bought the cookies, because we’d really love to share these stories with the school administrators. No shopping problem here either. This daughter requested a gift card to Slut-Mart.

Husband is doing very well. He was awarded Slacker of the Year award by his company. They said he is doing so well, that if he keeps up the good work, he’ll be given a permanent vacation. Can you imagine how much fun we’ll have with all that spare time?

As for me, I’m learning how to cook without setting of the smoke alarm. It only paged the fire department once this week when I baked brownies for Daughter #2’s Girl Scout party. The girls smiled bravely as they gazed at the brownies and held tissues over their noses to protect the tray of well-done brownies from their cold germs. They showed their generous spirits by tossing the entire tray into the snow to feed the birds.

Happy Holidays to you and your family. We hope our year has been as wonderful as ours.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 3, 2015, edited from 2009 version

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com.

 

Missing – beautiful vixen

As Joe sat reading the newspaper he opened it to the classified section. There in large print was a concisely written notice.

“Missing – beautiful vixen with long, silky red hair.
Likes to disguise her sly personality with a come-hither smile.
Call 555-1212 if you see her.”

Joe was in shock. The ad must be talking about Susan, his new girlfriend. She had appeared out of nowhere. She had beautiful, long red, wavy tresses that flowed nearly to her waist. Her dazzling smile made men fall instantly in love with her. She was tall with an athletic build and ran five miles every morning, returning to their apartment glistening with perspiration, but breathing evenly and easily. She loved to eat steak, but sadly did not know how to cook. That left Joe picking up the tab for frequent meals at high-cost steak houses. He didn’t mind that, but sadly, Joe was learning the hard way that beneath her lovely exterior lurked a prickly personality that quickly shifted to explosive anger. Joe had been thinking, trying to find a way to break-up with Susan that wouldn’t make her anger flare in a frightening way.

Here was the answer! She was missing. Perhaps she had a form of amnesia. That would explain her reluctance to talk about her family. It would also account for her underlying anger. Fear and loss can do that to a person. Joe could return Susan to her family, knowing she would be safe. This kind act would also give him some breathing room from her mercurial personality. If she recovered they could resume their relationship in a calmer manner. Those thoughts filled Joe with hope.

Confidently, Joe walked to the counter, picked up his phone and dialed 555-1212. Imagine his surprise when the voice at the other end said, “County Zoo. May I help you?”

© by Sharon D. Dillon, October 30, 2015

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com.

Grandma’s Clothes

Grandmothers nowadays don’t dress the way they did when I was a child. Thank goodness. If they did I’d be a fashion disaster. We’re not going to mention that I’m barely above crisis intervention.

My great-grandmother would probably approve of my wardrobe, though she might look askance at my neon green running shoe laces. She might possibly be puzzled by what is currently fashionable. Of course, no one ever accused me of being fashionable. Even more scandalous, I don’t wear a full apron, most of the time I don’t wear any apron.

Some of you reading this are lost in a fog. You say, “She’s a young woman. What is she talking about?” Well, I hope that’s what you’re saying.

Grandma was born in 1866 and lived to see men orbiting the Earth. She was quite the dare-devil as a girl and young woman. One time, against their mother’s rules, she and her sister pierced each other’s ears with a darning needle and heavy thread to keep the holes open until they could get to town to buy earrings. Their mother was angry at this disobedience, but said, “What’s done is done.”

As a young woman she was horse-back riding with her finance, my great-grandfather, when he made a derogatory remark about women riding side-saddle and not being real riders. Grandma threw her leg over the saddle and whipped her horse into a gallop. As the two raced into town, witnesses were scandalized at her unladylike behavior.

Grandma’s everyday wardrobe was a dark floral print cotton dress (tiny flowers, of course) that fell to mid-calf . Her sleeves reached to the middle of her lower arms, no matter what the weather. She kept her dress clean with a flour sack apron that covered her from her neck to nearly the bottom of her dress and most of the way around back. Her legs were modestly covered in cotton stockings, affixed just below her knees with a firm twist and tuck.

Those stockings came in handy one day many years later. My neighbor was working at an assisted living facility and one of her clients needed her stockings fixed. She tried to follow the woman’s instructions but couldn’t get the stockings to stay up. When she told me her problem, I hauled out a pair of knee socks and showed her how to twist and tuck.

For church or going visiting Grandma wore a black dress of a softer material, with a broach and her, once forbidden, earrings. On those days she wore opaque silk stockings. This was proper attire when she became a widow in the early 1930s. She saw no reason to change.

All this description and I haven’t come to her shoes yet. You may be interested to know that they are currently stylish. Grandma wore black leather lace-up shoes with chunky heels about 1½ inches high.

Grandma disapproved of my summer wardrobe of shorts and what was similar to what we now call crop tops. She fussed at Mom on a regular basis, telling her to protect my skin so I wouldn’t pop out with more unsightly freckles. However, Grandma’s big to-do was over a sun bonnet. Grandma insisted I wear one, but I flat out refused. It was the only time I ever got away with saying “no” to an adult. Mom had hated wearing one as a child so did not force me to submit.

Little did anyone know that many years later I would sit in a dermatologist’s office and kick my own butt for not listening to Grandma. If I had listened to her I would not be having these mini-surgeries and UV-Blue treatments now. But if I had listened . . . .

© by Sharon D. Dillon, October 17, 2015

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com.

Oops, I hit the wrong key

I love writing but, regrettably, I have the typing skills of a St. Bernard, big paws and too much drool. This conflict has led me to some unusual experiences.

Back when we still used manual typewriters my time was mostly spent tossing out wrecked pages and no longer usable carbon paper. Then we advanced to correcting typewriters. That was a big improvement. I could ruin carbon paper even faster. But the biggest advance for me was, as my friend once said, “You can type faster backward than forward.” Not everyone can brag about that skill.

Eventually, we had computers in the workplace and were expected to work even faster. The good part was that I could edit on the screen and print out a clean copy for the boss. He was happy with that improvement, he just couldn’t figure out why it took me five times longer to generate a letter than the other program assistants. Well, I was still typing backwards, so to speak. My right little finger is just a bit longer and wider than the left because it grew and developed strong muscles from repeated trips to the backspace key.

The biggest improvement was the internet. I could look up information for the boss, and play Solitaire during my lunch break. Let’s talk about the Solitaire first. It provided me with the opportunity to buy a whole new wardrobe. Since I no longer walked with my friends during our break, I became horizontally enhanced.

Now to looking up information, while checking flights to Washington, D.C, I hit the wrong key and was taken to a site that burned my eyeballs and sent my brain into a catatonic state. Since I was incapable of retreating, I was at the site longer than was excusable as a typing mistake. I was told to pack my bags and leave immediately. How was I to know that watching porn on office time is considered a Class A work violation, no second chances?

That led to my early retirement. Because of my embarrassing dismissal I was considered an undesirable potential employee. So now I write blogs and email my friends way too often. Those are mostly harmless hobbies, except when I hit the wrong key. I sent my pastor a video of a Mormon Tabernacle Choir performance but he received a video of two dogs doing the same thing that got me fired from my job. Now I’m looking for a new church. How was I to know that hitting the wrong key is a mortal sin?

P.S.:  Thank you to my friend, John A. for the writing prompt. This was so much fun.

© Sharon D. Dillon, August 20, 2015

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

Snails are slow and so am I

Let’s be honest. I’ve never been the fastest kid on the block, except for reading when I was a kid. Now I read slowly to savor every word.

When I was young my father used to tell me to stop playing with my food. I wasn’t. Most of the time I was so engrossed in the grown-up conversation that I forgot to eat. Except – when Mom cooked liver and onions, an adult favorite, which meant she served it way too often. I would cut my piece of liver into teeny-tiny pieces and try to hide it amidst a huge fork-full of mashed potatoes and sautéed onions. I chewed contentedly until I reached the liver nugget in the middle and all progress stopped. I tried to swallow the liver bit whole but my mouth and throat went into full resistance.

The rule at our house was that I sat at the table until my plate was clean. Then my tactic was to try to make the food last until my dad forgot what day we’d been served the disgusting liver. That didn’t work either. After a while Dad would return to make sure I ingested it all. Darn! Why couldn’t Dad have a faulty memory and think we’d had the liver last Tuesday?

In high school typing class was a challenge. All the other students were tip-tapping away and I was pecking, not hunting because I’d actually learned where the keys were located. I practiced and practiced and made little progress. Electric typewriters were new then and I longed to try one. However, the teacher had a rule that we couldn’t graduate to an electric model until we could type 60 words per minute on a manual. Day by day I sat there looking longingly at the electric typewriters and wishing upon a star that someday I would be allowed to try one. My wish came true. On the last day of school the teacher came to me and said, “Well, I don’t think you’ll ever reach 60 words, but you’ve been working hard. You can spend the last five minutes of class on an electric typewriter.” The other students were dismissed five minutes early and I felt like a real typist pecking away on the modern equipment.

Several years later as a newly single mother, I attended Opportunity Industrialization Center, a school for low-income people to learn job skills. Most were trained for factory work but a few were trained in office skills. After weeks of seeing me struggle with the typewriter my instructor stood over me as I typed. Suddenly, she announced, “You aren’t clumsy, you have a fine motor skill disability.” Those words saved my shredded typing ego. I knew I was smart and could do almost anything I wanted that didn’t involve speed.

When I reached my 30s I began to add a few pounds, mostly from sitting in an office all day. My doctor told me to start exercising. I didn’t think I’d stick to that, so he suggested I try a team sport. As luck would have it the spring women’s softball league was about to start. During tryouts I missed nearly every ball thrown my way. By the time I figured out the trajectory of the ball and moved into position with my glove in the air, the ball had sailed over my head and bounced across the turf. You guessed it. I was that season’s right fielder. I must brag, though. One evening the third base player was ill and the coach had no one else to substitute. Our team was down by one run and the opposing batter was headed my way. The shortstop threw to me and – I caught the ball and saved the game. That moment of personal victory is still clear in my mind.

Now I fondly recall something my dad used to say, “Grandma is slow, but she’s old. What’s your excuse?” I say “fondly” because I am, as my son used to say, “Vertically challenged, horizontally enhanced and chronologically gifted.” Finally, I have an excuse for being just a bit slower than everyone else. Who said being old is a problem? It’s a gift.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, August 7, 2015

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

Pants on Fire!

You know the first part of that saying. That’s what I was thinking as I was trying to follow Google Maps to a city I’d never visited to pick up my copy of Go Set a Watchman. I ordered the book months ago when Books-A-Million offered a pre-sale option and I didn’t know the Williamsburg store was going to close. Before the closing date the local staff assured me that I’d be mailed a copy of the book on the release date.

It’s several days past the release date and no book has arrived. I looked on the B-A-M website to find the nearest store, which is in Colonial Heights, one hour and nine minutes west of here. There are others about the same drive time away, but I thought this option would give me an opportunity to take a leisurely drive on scenic roads to a new city. I’d previously driven about 45 minutes of the predicted 69 minute journey, so felt confident I could find my way the other 24 minutes without a problem.

You need to know that since Virginia was the first English colony, locations have unusual names and roads were constructed on colonial wagon trails (meaning curvy) and that counties didn’t come into existence until much later. Thus, I left my home in James City County and wound my way into the countryside, crossing the Chickahominy River and enjoying the beautiful scenery and the sunshine. (Only Colonial Williamsburg is built on a grid. Governor Frances Nicholson may have been lacking in statesman skills, but he knew how to build a city a mile long and four streets wide.)

I passed through Charles City County, seeing several colonial plantations along the way. By the time I came to a road change a light rain began falling. I crossed the James River at the Prince George Bridge and headed to Hopewell. By then the rain was coming down in sheets and I was hoping I could read the signs well enough to make my turns. I made two turns correctly.

The map indicated that after 3.5 miles I was to turn left on Winston Churchill Drive which did not reveal itself by the time I’d gone almost 4 miles. I pulled into a Subway and asked the clerk how to find that street. She said that it was at the intersection just a few yards away. I turned where she indicated but the sign said 6th Street. I decided to trust her and continued driving until the end of the street. At that point a right turn put me onto Winston Churchill Drive. By this time the rain had let up and I was able to follow directions again, travelling on Oaklawn, Woodlawn and Oaklawn Drives without making a turn or even changing lanes.

Finally I reached the mall where the book store was located but couldn’t find the store. After walking into the mall and asking three men for directions, a janitor told me how to find Books-A-Million – around a curve and across the street – and in no time I was at the book store. Five minutes later I was back in my car.

I left the mall and began driving back down the road. I found an exit to I-95 South that would take me to Raleigh, NC. I knew that was the right general direction and that eventually I’d find an exit that would bring me back to Williamsburg. The rain had once again turned into a downpour, but the Interstate signs were large enough to read in the rain.

Ah, a treasure loomed – a route to the Prince George Bridge and the rain eased again. After another few miles I saw familiar territory and began to breathe normally. Soon the rain stopped. I enjoyed music while scanning the lovely plantation route, eventually reaching Williamsburg. Suddenly, the sound system came alive with the Beatles’ song “Help!” I laughed and said, “You’re a little late. I’m only a block from home now.”

I made that 2 hr, 18 min round trip plus 5 minutes in the store in only 3 hours and 11 minutes. Good time, or bad instructions?

© by Sharon D. Dillon, July 28, 2015

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com