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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bye-Bye Miss American Pie

I was driving to Miami yesterday and was happy to discover that Dork Radio stays clear as a bell all the way there and back. There is an advantage for Florida being flat as a pancake and having all large obstructions to radio signals flattened by hurricanes Andrew through Wilma.

I was tired, operating on 3 hours of sleep, and relying on the radio to keep me solvent on the Florida Turnpike at 6 a.m. and the God of Easy Listening was in my corner, because what should come on the radio but American Pie by Don McLean.

“Long, long time ago,” I sang it out, disrupting my daughter, whose earphones were turned down to an early morning level. She tapped on her volume button a few times and gave me a look. She’s used to me singing along with the radio, but she’s always hoping for spontaneous laryngitis.

“I can still remember how the music  (pause)  used to make me smile. And I KNEW IF I HAD MY CHANCE . . .”

I can still remember how we used to obsess over those lyrics. WHOT had a contest where we were supposed to guess what the song was about. To enter the contest, you had to write out the lyrics - word for word - and submit them with your essay on what Don McLean meant when he wrote the song.

This was before the Internet, don’t you forget, so to write down the lyrics you had to do a heck of a lot more than Google American Pie lyrics, copy and paste.

We were in Sue Krollop’s basement with her turntable and we put the album on (or was it the 45?) and someone sat with a spiral notebook and a number 2 pencil and it went something like this:

A long, long time ago, I

“OK stop.” (Scribble scribble write write)  “OK go.”

A long, long time ago, I can still remember how the

“OK stop!” (Write write) “OK go.”

Can still remember how the music used to make me

“Stop!” (Write write) “OK go.”

Because WHOT contest administrators were in the business of toying with pre-teens, they required that the lyrics had to be from the Long Version. The radio never played the Long Version anymore. They skipped the whole middle of the song, starting with Now for ten years we’ve been on our own and moss grows fat on a rolling stone and continuing through lots of references to Satan, football and royalty. How were were supposed to know what this song was about? It sounded like something from Revelations or a dream you might have after eating bad fish.

I don’t believe we ever got done with the lyrics. The Long Version isn’t called the Long Version for nothing. Plus we were in 6th grade and still had a lingering grip on the 1960s version of ADD, which they treated with regular visits to Mrs. McKee, the guidance counselor, and an eye patch. I can’t imagine that we had the attention span and wherewithal to hand-write all those lyrics. We were probably calling boys and hanging up by Did you write the book of love and do you have faith in God above?

We did, however, listen to WHOT for weeks, and heard that the winner had correctly guessed that the song was about the plane crash that killed the Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. We were children of the late ‘60s and ‘70s, we didn’t know who those three guys were, and we concluded that they were not cool enough to make the music die all on their own.

It’s only now that I’m older and have the Internet at my disposal that I can appreciate that Don McLean wrote a really deep song, full of references to obscure rock ‘n roll history. Some guy named Rich Kulawiec has a website where he analyzes the song and provides annotated lyrics. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s super cool.

Two things about Don McLean: His concert at Youngstown State in 1973 was the first concert I ever went to. My sister Kathy had an extra ticket and asked me to go and it was about as exciting as you could imagine. I got home late and stayed up the entire rest of the night doing a geology paper. It was worth it. I’ve been to lots of concerts and that stands out as being really special.

And 24 years later I won a free drink ticket at my 20th class reunion by correctly answering the trivia question asked by the DJ: Who was the song Killing Me Softly written about? That’s right. Don McLean.  Unfortunately, I had already had way too much to drink at that reunion, spilled wine on a beautiful pair of suede heels, instantly ruining them, and dropping my camera in the bathroom, breaking it. There were more mishaps to come - my husband drinking my contact lenses that night, breaking my mom’s sink, and some more stuff that I’ve blocked. (And those of you at that reunion, if you remember some stuff, please don't comment. Thanks.) The free drink ticket probably got crushed by my camera or I threw up on it. I redeemed myself at the 25th reunion by not drinking much of anything and being the designated driver for everyone else. I was supposed to be one of the smart girls and I had a lot of making up to do.
Friday, January 28, 2011

Distracted But Still Needing Skin Care


Because I know that you all accept me how I am, even though I’m now that lady, I’ll let you all be the first to hear about how I had to call every dermatologist’s office within a 25-mile radius to find out where I was supposed to be yesterday at 3:15.

I’m not old and senile; I’m just chronically distracted and thinking about more important things.

I was so wrapped up in making the appointment and getting that crossed off my list, I forgot to make a note of where I was going. I entered dermatologist 3:15 on my calendar and turned my attention to the next thing, which was to convince Ranger that there is hot air blowing out of the back bedroom air vent when everything is turned off. (I am not crazy. This is actually happening. Distracted, yes. Crazy, no.) I did accomplish this, by the way. I suggested that a new flux capacitor should be installed. I find that whenever I say that, home systems professionals start to take me very seriously.

So today at around 2:50, I started to gather up my things to go to my dermatologist appointment and realized I had no idea where I was going.

First I tried to recall whatever I could about the phone call when I made the appointment. I couldn’t remember thinking This is going to be near the ________ or This will take me more than ________ minutes to get there or It sounds like this is over by the ___________.

I did remember the following things about the doctor I chose out of the big insurance doctor list:

a) Some of the doctors were women
b) The receptionist sounded like someone’s mom and she said, “Welcome to the practice!” before I hung up. I thought that was a really nice thing to say.

That sounded to me like something on PGA Boulevard, so I started there.

“Um, hi, um, this is Diane Fitzpatrick. Can you check and see if I have an appointment today at 3:15?

They acted all weird about my calling and asked me which doctor I had made my appointment with. I said “the woman one” and that just seemed to anger them more. I moved to the Military Trail’s Doctor Office Corridor and continued calling.

Some of the offices said they weren’t open, so I was able to eliminate those practices without talking to another human and ruining my reputation among medical professionals throughout the county.

I did finally find it and as soon as the lady answered the phone, I knew I had hit the jackpot. She sounded like someone’s mom.

I wouldn’t have had this problem if I hadn’t needed to find a new dermatologist. I wasn’t thrilled with my last one, though. He was a little too gung-ho about Botox and other beauty enhancements, and his own face was just a little too shiny and smooth. It’s not natural when your male doctor is prettier than you. I didn’t need a medical school graduate to tell me how wrinkly and gravity-stricken I am. I’ve got kids for that.

The woman dermatologist I finally ended up with was very nice. She never once suggested I buy a $64 bottle of beauty enhancement or have needles stuck into my laugh lines, frown lines or turkey gobbler.

I’ll definitely go back to her. If I can remember where her office is.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Adopt a Dog/Baby/Word/Whatever


My husband is all over me to get a dog. I’m not the most aggressive, stand-your-ground person (translation: I’m a pushover), so I’m new at this role as the one who gets to say no-you-can’t-get-a-puppy-go-clean-your-room-and-do-your-homework.

He wants to adopt a greyhound who can’t race anymore or Buster, a lab that someone found and is looking to get rid of in a non-death way, or any dog that isn’t a pit bull from the pound.

I have good reasons to not want a dog right now, but I might negotiate a dog for a baby. I’d love to adopt or foster-parent a baby. A really tiny one. A baby wouldn’t take up as much space or even require as much equipment as a dog, especially if we’re talking about a rambunctious greyhound or Buster, who is on the large side. I might consider getting a dog if I could get a baby in a package deal.

The fact is, though, that we probably won’t adopt a dog or a baby, so I’m going to adopt a word through Save the Words, a website that is trying to save some really obscure and unpronounceable words from becoming extinct. The idea is: You pick a word to adopt and you make an effort to use the word a lot so that it stays in the English language.

You don’t have to be on the site long enough to be convinced that some words might be better off in a word death camp. They’re all already in the word nursing home; some of them should stop seeking a cure and just buy the farm. Others should shoot themselves in the heart immediately.

When you go to Save the Words, the home page looks like a ransom note from a uber-intelligent person. Words in all fonts and sizes are patched together in a colorful word quilt. As you move your cursor over the landscape, words call out to you. “Pick me!” says psephograph. “Yo yo!” cries odynome. “Yes, yes, me!” squeals impudicity. “Helloooooo,” drones pamphagous. Pamphagous should lose the attitude. You’re never going to get picked with that tone, mister.

When you finally make your choice and agree to adopt the word in all its nerdly glory, you have to agree to “use this word, in conversation and correspondence, as frequently as possible to the very best of my ability.” So help you God. Depending on the word, that’s easier sworn than done.

Words like triclavianism, the belief that only three nails were used at Christ’s crucifixion, and satittipotent, having great ability in archery, and starrify, to decorate with stars, should never be adopted by anyone who is not a theologian or an archer or an elementary school teacher. I can’t imagine myself being able to save molrowing - the art of making merry with prostitutes - all by myself in my conversations with my fellow band moms and Alisha, the girl at the dry cleaner.

And some of the words are just not worth saving. Pocket-handkerchief, with the definition “a handkerchief carried in a pocket,” should have died with my great-grandfather. 

I considered adopting veteratorian, but it means subtle. So why not just say subtle? I’m all for rescuing words whose meanings are unique, but I don’t want to save a word whose job has been completely taken over by another word, who’s handling the job just fine.

After picking through the mass of words, I finally decided on one: Jobler n. One who does small jobs. “To celebrate my pathetic pay raise, I’m going out to drink with some joblers.”

Now I have to go buy a leash and some onesies for my new word. I hope he likes being in our little family.
Monday, January 24, 2011

Fear of Flying, Not by Erica Jong

Hi, I’m Diane and I used to be afraid to fly.

It’s one of my proudest accomplishments that I’m no longer afraid and I willingly get on airplanes to wherever and don’t clutch the arm of the person sitting next to me.

When my fear of having to jump off the plane wing clutching my seat cushion was overshadowed by my need to get from point A to point B faster than a speeding car, it just became a non-issue. The fear of flying gets very boring after a while, and I had to get over it.

I was once on a puddle-jumper where the pilot was a 15-year-old who doubled as the steward and baggage handler and when we hit some turbulence I launched into a laugh-cry combo that can only be described as true hysteria. I was reading The Final Days, the most depressing book of all time, upside down and laughing so hard I was crying like Pat Nixon. It was the beginning of my total freak-out fear of flying.

When it was at its peak, when my kids were at a collective age that meant maximum suffering if they lost their mom, I was so afraid to fly that I once actually considered taking a train from Chicago to Philadelphia. I had the phone in one hand ready to dial 1-800-AMT-RACK and the schedule in the other hand. I kept looking at the schedule. Twenty seven hours? Can that be right? What, was it stopping at every school zone crosswalk through three of the wider states?

OK, I thought. That’s not a problem. I’ll read a book. Then I’ll take a nap. Then I’ll eat some Cheez-Its that I’ll invariably pack (I never went very far from home without America’s favorite cheese snack, back then). Then I’ll read some more. Then I’ll do a crossword puzzle. More Cheez-Its. Write a few letters. More reading. Sleep. Then for the next 25 hours . . . I booked a flight on Delta. I figured I’d rather die in a fiery sky crash than be paralyzed by boredom for 27 hours. I wasn’t sure I would be mentally OK after that kind of ordeal.

I tell people I got over my fear of flying when my kids got older and I realized that they needed me less. But the reality is that I just wanted to get to my damn destination. There’s nothing like a realistic look at the alternatives to make you realize that we need to fly. “If God had wanted men to fly . . .” Yeah, He would have made us smart enough to figure out how to get a big metal ship full of fat people, liquor and savory snacks up in the air with a fewer than 1 percent chance of crashing, which we did, thank you very much. So, yeah, I think it was meant to be.

I realize that not everyone is at this place. Not everyone has come to this realization. Their kids are still young and very needy. Some children don’t yet know how to make Kraft macaroni and cheese and fill out the FAFSA on their own. So their parents are fearful of leaving them too soon, and so they avoid air travel. If you’re bored with your current location and even more bored by the idea of taking your next vacation in the mini-van, here are some things that could nudge you into submission and get you through that next flight:

Calming thoughts

To convince yourself that you’re not going to crash, ask yourself the following questions at take-off:
  • Are there children on board? If so, you’re not going to crash. Simple as that. Not going to happen.
  • Are others talking calmly despite that clicking noise and the whirrrrrrring that obviously is the wheels being tucked in, which is going on far too long? If the more experienced fliers are not nervous, who are you to be a know-it-all?
  • Do the flight attendants look like the head shots that they would have to put in the paper if there was an air disaster? No? You’re fine. Relax and enjoy the flight.

Sky Mall

Goodness, this is an entertaining catalog to read. There’s nothing like “Bigfoot, the Garden Yeti Statue” and Foot Alignment Socks to take your attention away from a piece of duct tape on the wing, which reminds you . . . did they take the time to refuel? Boarding was awful soon after those other people left the plane . . . They barely had time to pick up the dirty napkins, could they possibly have checked the oil and transmission fluid . . . Oh, look, it’s a big white headgear Laser Hair Therapy Treatment to combat hair loss for only $499 . . . Fuel? Who needs fuel?

Dale Carnegie on crack

This is pretty far fetched, but it’s worked for me, so it’s a viable alternative for the desperate. Dale Carnegie, in his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living advised that we should all combat nervousness by facing the worst possible scenario head on. Get on that plane knowing you’re going to die. Then start thinking of all the positive sides to that. If you die in this plane crash, you won’t have to pay 2010 taxes. Nor will you have to take that Lit test on Friday. No more hangovers, no more Jenny Craig weigh-ins, no more shaving your legs, no more seeing that creepy neighbor every time you go to the mailbox, no more grunting weight lifter at the gym. Before you know it, you’ll start to feel a pang of regret when you touch down smoothly and safely.

The Rosary

You don’t have to be Catholic to take advantage of this. We Catholics are not stingy. We’ll share. You don’t even need a rosary to pray the Rosary, just count on your fingers, 10 Hail Marys, a Glory Be and an Our Father for each mystery, and - believe me - the mystery of how this freaking plane can stay up in the air like magic does count.
Thursday, January 20, 2011

To Be Complainy or Not to Be Complainy

“Don’t be an Andy Rooney,” my husband said to me after reading my last blog post, about parents who are tools at their kids’ musical performances. He claims I was on a complainy streak, first whining about kids in the high school parking lot and now people who are line-cutters and flash-photography-takers at concerts.

I don’t consider myself a negative person, but he has a point. No one wants to be the Andy Rooney of blogs. We’d all like to be Hoops and Yoyo as opposed to Maxine. So I’m making more of an effort to not complain. This gives me another reason to try to be more like my mom, who had a very short list of complaints: People who talked constantly about the benefits of exercise, Taco Bell’s fajitas not being over-baked like the Reed Middle School cafeteria made them, and Republicans.  I told you it was a short list.

Here was my mom:

“Here, Lil, sit here.”  No, I like sitting on the floor.

“It’s so hot. I’m hot. Are you hot?” No, I actually like to sweat.

“You guys didn’t have two nickels to rub together when you were first starting out.” We were happier than these couples today who have brand new furniture in a new house that they have right after their wedding. It was more fun to save up for things.

She used to tell the story of buying a half-gallon of ice cream on a Friday night and because they didn’t have a freezer, they had to eat it all right away and go get the next-door neighbors to help them eat it before it melted.

See? We had more fun. We didn't need major appliances.

Even when she was in bone-cancer pain, was out of cigarettes, and had a flooded basement, she could still find something to be happy about. She was clearly born that way, so trying to be like her may not even be an achievable goal, but it’s something to work toward.

Because I don’t like sitting on the floor and I don’t like to sweat and I think wolfing down a half-gallon of ice cream isn’t the least bit fun, neighbors notwithstanding.

By May, I’d like to have my list of complaints down to about 13. By next year at this time, I’d like to be at my mom’s limit of 3. You can all help me by behaving yourselves and following the rules when I’m around. Turn off your cell phones, stop driving so recklessly, and for god’s sake, don’t cut in front of me.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Adults Behaving Badly

I recently spent four days at a music event for young people and educators. At least that’s where I think I was. Based on the behavior of the parents there, I may have been at NASCAR. Or prison visitation.

I’ve never been to either of those things but if they’re anything like what I imagine them to be, there is a lot of cutting in line, littering, and talking in an outside voice while everyone is trying to listen to classical music.

I was a chaperon (not a chaperone; my name tag said I was the sophisticated chaperon, so I tried to be as French as possible) and I didn’t really have any duties at all, so I had a lot of time to observe the other parents. And some of them weren’t being very nice.

I’m not one to give daggery looks to people whose babies are crying or whose toddlers are whining in an audience. It’s not like you can help that. Having been there too many times to count (my kids were shy and well-behaved until I wished them quiet and then they were wound-up little chatterboxes armed with fart jokes) I have a lot of sympathy for people sitting in a crowded auditorium with a 2-year-old. There aren’t enough Cheerios or hand-held video games on earth to quiet a kid during a classical music concert, especially during the pianissimo parts.

No, it wasn’t the parents of the little kids who were the nervy ones. It was the people who didn’t follow the rules. There are rules. Easy rules. You have to follow the rules.

When the program says No Flash Photography that means that you’re not supposed to use the flash on your camera. When the program says No Audio Recordings No Video or Still Photography of Any Kind Cameras Will Be Confiscated, that means you, big fat guy with the tripod on the balcony whose camera flash blinded me while I tried to watch my daughter play. He must’ve snuck out the stage door after the concert. There were a bunch of us looking for him.

When the lady comes on stage and welcomes you and tells you to turn off your cell phone, you’re supposed to turn off your cell phone. Right then. Right that minute. That’s the designated time to check your phone and make sure it’s off. The reason she is talking in a voice of a jaded, tenured teacher talking to a group of 3rd graders on the day after Halloween, is because you all have a bad history of not turning off your cell phones. So she’ll be as condescending and patronizing as possible. She may even do a little pantomime of taking a cell phone out of her pocket and turning it off, just in case anyone doesn’t understand English or is deaf. Hell, she could put on a one-act-play about turning off your cell phone, but she knows, as do we, that someone’s Ricky Martin She Bangs ringtone is going to go off during the most emotional part of Dvorak’s New World Symphony.

When you see an extremely long line that you don’t want to wait in, you’re supposed to suck it up and go to the end and play with your phone or something while you wait. Or file your nails. Or put headphones on and listen to some music. What you’re not supposed to do is nonchalantly merge into the line six people back. We can see what you’re doing. We’re not blind. And looking intently at your watch, digging through your purse and talking on your phone with a furrowed brow doesn’t make you look like you’re cutting in line unwittingly.

Father Anselmo, a priest at our church in New Jersey, told a story once about how Italians won’t wait in line. Italians think that Americans and other rule-following nations are suckers and they can’t figure out why someone would wait in a line when you could just cut to the front and get your ticket. That might be why there are so many fist fights at concerts in Europe. He said he and his friends from the seminary were going to a concert in London and the line was blocks long. There was hardly any parking. They left their car at the curb and walked directly to the ticket booth. “Damn Italians,” someone in line said. Father Anselmo laughed when he told this story. He had not an ounce of regret or shame for his heritage.

Apparently it’s not a sin to cut in line. Or to be selfish and boorish and impatient in public. But it does make you look like a 7-year-old.
Sunday, January 16, 2011

13th Floor Foibles

Should I be bothered that this was my hotel shower curtain? I'm sure it's fine.
Is it just me or is it supremely stupid that there was no 13th floor on the hotel I stayed at last week? Wait, let me correct that: There was no Floor #13. There was, of course, a 13th floor and it was Floor #14, my floor. You can put whatever number  on it that you want, but the floor that comes after #12 is still the 13th floor.

What century are we living in? (No, really, do you know? Because I can never figure out if you add or subtract one after dividing the year by 100.) To avoid putting unlucky 13 on a hotel floor is admitting to believing in one of the more ridiculous superstitions.

I spouted off about this every time we got in the elevator to go up and I was unprepared to get off so quickly. It gave us something to talk about besides my son’s diatribe on the Elevator Door Close Button Scam of the 20th Century (or is that the 18th Century?). He believes that the Door Close Button does absolutely nothing and is only in there to make people feel more powerful and in control of their elevator and, in turn, of their trip in general. He may not be able to change the thermostat in his room, work the mini-coffee-maker or get the alarm clock to go off in time for him to get to the meeting that this whole trip is about, but damnit, he can try to close that elevator door, so the talkative creepy guy doesn’t get on.

Why would hotels cater to such an old fashioned superstition and skip 13 in the numbering of floors? “God forbid you should offend anyone in your market,” said Joe McInerney, CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, in a 19th-or-21st-century USA Today article. Even if the people in that market are hanging dead chickens over their doors back home?

Only 13 percent of people would be bothered by getting a room assigned on the 13th floor, a survey in USA Today said.

I imagine if they gave the rooms on the 13th floor working alarm clocks and decent coffee makers, they might be able to fill them up. And how about a Door Close Button that works only on Floor 13? We’d be lining up.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Facebook for Fifty and Over

As Facebook claws its way to the top spot in our list of things we love, more and more people my age are succumbing. Almost every day, someone from my demographic gets a Facebook page (That would be the demographic Old Person.)

Because its been on a high-speed growth spurt since it was created, Facebook is not easy to pick up, especially for those of us 50 and older. (We have a hard time learning languages and musical instruments, too, remember.) I think some lessons are in order just to save us from embarrassment. I’ve convinced my kids and their high school and college friends that I’m hip enough to be their friend, but if you keep jabbering on about the ‘70s, you’re going to creep everybody out and give us all a bad name.

Being on Facebook as a 50+ is a privilege and not a right. If you’ve been on Facebook for more than a month and you’re still:
  •  Marveling/bragging about it
  •  Poking people
  •  Complaining about the changes, as if you were an expert in the old Facebook
  •  Playing Farmville
  •  Falling for “See Who Viewed My Profile” enticements
then maybe it’s time you took my tutorial. You won’t find this at your community college adult ed class offerings. It’s only available here and is free, as long as you pay it forward and pass along these tips to someone older than you. There are a lot of old people on Facebook now, but if we all work together we can get this done.

1. Stop telling people you’re on Facebook with a shake of your head and a roll of your eyes

Say the word Facebook like you would any other word. If you over-enunciate it or say it like you hardly ever say the word, you’re marking yourself as a newbie, which is actually a fogey. Practice talking about Facebook by replacing the word Facebook with annuity. “I opened an annuity account and it’s working pretty well. I’m actually having some fun with it. It took some getting used to, but now I’m status-updating like a bitch.” Say it five times and you’ll get the gist.

2. Know your levels of dissing

There are levels of getting rid of annoying people. If their status updates are irritating or go against your political philosophy to the point where you’re starting to fantasize about a verbal confrontation with him at a face-to-face class reunion that could never happen in the real world, then you probably should hide him. No need for defriending - he might convert or somehow be useful to you and a future evil plan you may come up with. You never know. Hiding doesn’t hurt anyone and doesn’t sound any alarms.

Defriending tells the person you have no use for him now or ever. This may have to be repeated several times, since many people assume they were defriended by mistake. “Facebook messed up again! I somehow dropped off your friends list!” You can blame Facebook the first time, but subsequent defriendings require a backbone.

Blocking sends up red flags all over the cyberplace. Don’t even think about it. Blocking is for paranoid schizophrenics or people in the Witness Protection Program. If you block someone there are signs, they’ll see them, as will everyone else, and you’ll be forced to explain why you’re such a dweeb. Don’t go there.

3. There are no phones in Facebook

Don’t say, “Who do I call about this?” if you’re having problems with your Facebook account. You’ll be able to hear the cringing of 20,000 20-somethings. Facebook wonks don’t use telephones. Phones are barbaric and, frankly, an insult to the technology. And just for the record, a delayed poke is not a problem worth not calling about.

4. There’s stealing friends and then there’s stealing friends

You friend someone from high school. It’s perfectly acceptable to go look at her friends and see if there’s anyone you know from back then. It’s not perfectly acceptable to send friend requests to every person on her friends list. And on the other end, if you get a friend request from someone you don’t know and you see that you have one mutual friend, dump that jackwagon fast. He’s probably a FFC (Facebook Friend Collector) and he’s a loser or he’s running for office. He will bring nothing to your Facelife except spam, annoying surveys and boob jokes. You’re too old for that.

5. Learn to let go of your desire for privacy

If you don’t want anybody and everybody to know everything about you, then stay off Facebook. But don’t join a social networking site and then complain that people are socially networking with you. Don’t obsess over who is looking for you or who is checking you out. You put those photos of the block party on your page, what did you want to happen? If - God forbid - Facebook actually ever does allow you to see who’s “stalking” you, you may be disappointed to find that it’s no one. And stop worrying about everyone knowing your phone number and email address, because Facebook, that evil genius, revealed it without your permission. Everyone already knows your phone number and your email address. That’s why you get unwanted junk mail and solicitation calls from marketers. Embrace the intrusions.

6. Don’t fall for the obvious

Be stingy with your clicks. Just because a link starts out, “OMG!” doesn’t mean you have to go see what the fuss is about. That girl who killed herself because of a picture on Facebook? Not there. The kid whose dad beat her senseless because of a text? Doesn’t exist. And why do you want to see that anyway? Have you asked yourself that? Keep it classy, people. Some general rules to follow when faced with a link that is tempting you:
  • Who’s posting it? The guy who falls for everything and who you got a chain letter from last week? Consider the source and don’t become that guy.
  •  How many exclamation points are there in it? Is it in all caps? How many words are misspelled? These are clear indicators that you should not go near that link.
  •  Is there a baby or a dog in it? You’ve probably seen it already. Move along.

7. Learning Twitter too? Calm down.

Congratulations on being a Facebooker. And it’s admirable that you figured out Twitter, too. But you don’t need to flaunt it. Those #’s and @‘s and RTs actually mean something. Learn to use them, use them correctly, and sparingly. Because it’s only a matter of time before you’ll get busted for doing it wrong.

8. Don’t be Facebook-bullied into loving things

Many older people seem to think that if you don’t copy and paste the post on Daughter’s Week, Son’s Week, Daughter-in-Law Week, Son-in-Law Week, Sisters’ Week, Stepsons’ Week, the Pledge of Allegiance, and Proud to be a Christian, that means you don’t love your family or your country or God. Nothing bad will happen if you pass on the reposting. A quick and simple like does the trick and is effective in preventing bad things from happening to you.

9. There’s nothing you can do that can’t be undone

Everything that you put onto Facebook can be taken off of Facebook. By you. If you’ve had a little too much wine and you make an inappropriate comment (see #10 below to avoid this from happening in the first place), hover your cursor on the right top corner of your post and you’ll see a dimly lit X. Hitting that will allow you to erase that transgression. There’s no need to post 12 follow-ups to correct misspellings, and clear up double meanings.

10. Don’t be inappropriate

I know this is extremely nebulous since everyone’s standards for inappropriateness are different. The Facebook Status Update Website is no help: It advises that you should not post “anything you wouldn’t stand up on a chair and shout in the pub.” I can’t imagine what could be appropriate shouted from atop a chair in a pub. You’d obviously be very drunk if you were doing that and I don’t think there’s any question that everything you said would be inappropriate. Just think about the post for a second before you hit ‘Share.’ While you’re proofreading it (hint, hint) ask yourself, “Should I be sending this out there for my coworkers/kids’ friends/dental hygienist/junior-high boy friend to see? Take a glance over to the left and look through your featured Friends in the left margin. How will they react?

And then hit ‘Share’ anyway. You’re halfway to the grave. Live a little.