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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Watch That Florida Person!

For a people-watcher like me, living in Florida is a dream come true. This is the World Series of people watching. Only in Florida will you see an 80-year-old woman in a bikini, and a 90-year-old man in a Speedo; dogs wearing clothes and accessories, and humans wearing dog collars and leashes (although I saw one of these in Phoenix once, too, and the get-up was so kinky that I haven’t felt the same about the Southwest since). And you’ll see more untucked Hawaiian shirts over beer bellies than anywhere, including Hawaii.

The people watching is so good, in fact, that I’ve begun doing themes and games. I’m considering my own late-night cable TV game show called Watch That Florida Person! but it might involve staying up past 10 p.m. and I’m not sure I could handle that.

So just to stay in practice, I play it with myself. You can try this at your own mall or amusement park or car wash. Pick a theme and park yourself in the food court or another crowded place (like far away from the kiosk guy who is operating a remote-control helicopter, since people avoid him like the plague) , and look for people who fit your theme.

Here are some suggestions that I’ve found to be fun and profitable:

Mismatched Couples
Some couples start to look like each other after a few years of being happily married, some people are just wrong for each other, and some people start to look like their pets. But for this game, let’s concentrate on No. 2. The tall girl with a little butterball boyfriend, the princess with the kid who barely passed power mechanics, the nerdy guy with the beautiful blond cheerleader, you’ve seen them. Collect them all!

Girlfriend or Daughter/Boyfriend or Son?
Once, at my daughter’s basketball game, one of the moms was sitting across the way with what appeared to be her older son, maybe a guy who had just finished college and was home to visit mom and see li’l sis shoot some hoops, and, oh wait, why is this boy putting his hand on his mom’s knee? And . . . and . . . oh god, why is Mom putting her lips on his neck. GAH! Yeah, as it turns out, it wasn’t her son, it was her new boyfriend. Here in Florida, you see a lot of that. And you see even more old guys with young blond girls who are younger than their daughters. This is a fun game to play at the mall, but don’t think about it too much or you’ll lose your food court lunch.

Plastic or Real?
This one would be perfect for a competition between you and a friend or neighbor, except that a definitive answer would require asking strangers, “Are those real?” Feel free to play it anyway and just make up the answers. Plastic surgery is as common as eyeliner is up north, so you’re going to find that plastic is the correct answer more often than not. I’ve seen women in the grocery store with face and body parts so swollen, I’m pretty sure they’re on their way home from their appointments. Either that or they’ve been beaten by an angry spouse.

Cover That Up!
I’m torn about this one. On one hand, when I see an older, overweight woman wearing a bathing suit that is any more revealing than a wet suit, I go ew. But on the other hand, a part of me says you go girl. If I squint enough so that the tattoos disappear - they just seem incongruous with the whole my-body-is-beautiful-the-way-God-made-it thing - a normal looking woman really is very normal looking. And I love to see people showing off their high self-esteem. But there are bodies that really do just need to be told, Cover that up! For this game, be sure not to say it aloud. People with high self-esteem are often very strong.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Babies Bring Out the Superpowers in Me

I think I might be getting too old to have a baby. Not that I didn’t know that before, but I’ve been holding onto fantasies that I would have a freakish medical condition resulting in a baby, or I would find one wrapped in swaddling clothes in the brush while walking to the gym, or that I would be babysitting and the parents would just forget to pick up the baby. Any of these things are possible. Although the path-to-the-gym thing might just be a way to get out of exercising.

But this week my 15-month-old nephew and 5-year-old niece were at my house and while I did great while they were here, I was a dead man walking when they left. Running after a baby is hard.

It never ceases to amaze me how much young parents can accomplish in a day. When my kids were babies and toddlers, I was cooking three meals a day, making birthday party invitations with stencils and jewel tone colored pencils, and was this close to mastering tying a shoe with one hand when Velcro was invented. I baked homemade bread, planted annuals and remembered to get all my kids their immunizations, all while nursing a baby and raising my hand to volunteer to do more.

Having a baby around makes you feel like Batgirl. You can do anything and everything. And then when the kids go to bed, you fall asleep at 7:45 with your hands in a sink full of soaking sippy cups and all your powers are drained away.

This week, I almost forgot to make the pitcher of margaritas, which I’m pretty sure was the whole point of the trip down here.

I was really out of my league, because not only am I 15 years older since I had babies and little kids running around my legs, the products and accessories have changed.

James, my nephew, was eating yogurt that came in little pink, solid, puffy droplets. I found one on the floor and thought it was a chair foot pad or a piece of a pool toy. I was smooshing it into a cube shape and looking around for something to stick it on when his dad said, “Uh, that’s a yogurt.” It probably had lost all of its yogurty taste.

Baby food is so much better than when my kids ate it. He ate tiny ravioli and chicken with noodles and there was not a single trace of pinkish-gray meat paste. It’s a good thing. I gag just thinking about that stuff. What meat industry lobbyist convinced Gerber that we should feed our babies beef-in-a-jar from 1948 through 2000?

I was really in my glory when those kids were here. They’ll wear you out, but they are so cute and soft and funny and they wear such adorable little outfits, that you almost want to wake them up again when they finally fall asleep.

Fortunately, before I could fully form that thought in my head, I was asleep.
Sunday, March 20, 2011

Do You Have a Photocopier? I Don't Know, Do You?

Have you non-Ohions seen this? It’s an entertaining deposition from that comedy factory the Ohio State Supreme Court. Two Ohio friends of mine, John and Cindy, both journalists, drew this to my attention. It’s 10 pages of questions and non-answers in a deposition in a case about whether the recorder’s office should have to make copies for pesky outsiders who come in and want to make print-outs of their research. Or something. I don’t know. What I do know is that this brought back memories of when I was a reporter and I had to sit through meetings and hearings in which lawyers would ask questions and other guys in suits would answer because they liked to hear the sound of their own voices. And I always suspected they purposely dragged out the questioning, because they loved being the center of attention.

I used to fantasize that if it was my turn to question a witness in a deposition that day, here would have been some smacked heads and someone would have been grounded.

If you want to read the exchange, be my guest. It’s right here. If you don’t, please allow me to summarize and re-create the deposition.

Question: Do you have a photocopier in your office?

Answer: Get off my case! Leave me the hell alone! Why are you tormenting me with these questions? I have a headache. Good day, sir. I said good day, sir.

I made that up. He didn’t say that. But, gosh, it felt good to write that. I’ve been looking for an excuse to write I said good day, sir for ages and even though this was a stretch it did the trick.

Seriously, though, when it starts out, you get the distinct impression that the guy answering the questions is trying to stall by wearing everyone down without having to admit that there’s a photocopier in his office.

Question: Do you have a photocopier in your office?

Answer: When you say "photocopying machine," what do you mean?

. . . couple of pages later . . .

Question: Do you have a photocopier in your office?

I just want to make sure I answer your question correctly.

. . . continuing . . .

Question: Do you have a photocopier in your office?

I'm sorry. I didn't know what that meant. I understand that there are photocopying machines, and there are different types of them just like --

Me/The Mom/ Substitute Lawyer: Alright mister, get in your room. You’re grounded. No Red Bull for a week.

By around page 5, you want to track this guy down like a dog and toilet paper his front yard trees right  before a nice, steady rain. Just so you can imagine that when he’s painstakingly picking off the wet pieces of toilet paper, it’s almost as frustrating as listening to his testimony back at the courthouse.

When I was a reporter I used to fantasize about standing up and yelling AGHHHH! Answer! Answer the question! GAHHHH! If I wasn’t fighting off that urge, I would be slipping into a coma. I once fell asleep during a meeting in East Liverpool, Ohio, and I’ll admit that even though my boss at the time is my Facebook friend and might be reading this. Yes, I fell asleep. Everyone at the meeting knew it, too. I set back what little journalistic integrity our little paper had about 20 years that night.

But can you imagine how boring and unproductive that meeting was? I was young and idealistic and needed my job because I was living small paycheck to small paycheck, plus was wasting tons of money on going out every night after work. So if it was so monotonous that the reporter was falling asleep, it was simply too boring to tolerate.

If I was a reporter today, I could record the meeting, transcribe it on my iPad, have it posted online before the last person at the meeting fell asleep, and be a YouTube rock star by deadline. Reporters have it so easy, these days.
Saturday, March 19, 2011

Maul Shopping

For a lame shopper like me, our trip to the sixth largest mall in America this week was overwhelming to say the least.

I went with a carload of friends and relatives to Sawgrass Mills Mall - my first visit to the legendary outlet-heavy shopping mecca of South Florida. Wikipedia says it’s the sixth largest mall in the country. Which means it’s like the Phoenix of shopping malls (or Philadelphia, depending on who’s winning that race today . . . Oh wait, some crazy Arizonan just left the door unlocked and one of his wives escaped; Philly takes it.)

Sixth largest? Really? That means there are five other malls in this country that are larger? I’m having a hard time with that.

The largest mall in the country is the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania. The Mall of America in Minnesota is #2, but it has the most stores with 522. I’m wondering if they counted the kiosks.

And speaking of kiosks, the wandering minstrels that walk around the Sawgrass Mills Mall selling their wares and trying to run hand cream down our pores rank No. 1 in being obnoxious.

Attention wandering minstrels: Report back to your kiosks immediately. Look at yourself in those little mirrors you have and write in lipstick 100 times: I will not accost innocent people and say things that make them feel unattractive and make them wish they had gone to Walmart instead.

One wandering minstrel hijacked my daughter’s shopping experience and kept lowering the price of a fingernail treatment until my previously nice daughter said, “I don’t want it” whereupon the minstrel got snippy and mean.

And when I tried to politely ignore one, he turned to his partner and said: “She’s from Canada.” (Is that bad? Canadian friends, please spill it: Do you people part with your dollars less often than we do?)

I’m thinking the freedom to venture away from the cash register and stool to try to drum up sales with nationality insults is one of the advantages of having a kiosk instead of a real store in a mall. There must be a radius limit, though, because the minstrels won’t come running after you, no matter how close they are to making the sale. If you keep walking, they’ll eventually step back inside the invisible line and try someone closer.

At home in our regular mall, when trying to avoid them, I just put my phone up to my ear and carry on an imaginary conversation. It keeps them away like a garlic necklace. I am clever and witty and a sparkling conversationalists in those pretend phone calls. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my call, I have to hover outside Macy’s and finish talking before I go in.

But at Sawgrass, I was with other people, so a phone call to my imaginary friend would have to wait. I had to fend off the kiosk minstrels with my bare hands and an Ann Taylor Factory Store shopping bag weighted down with a chunky necklace.

This mall is so big, it took us 20 minutes to walk from the end of Avenue 1, home of Bare Feet Shoes, to the far end of Avenue 4, where the Lids store was. Before you think that this mall was organized in order of where you would put things onto your body, no; it was organized by making a list of every possible thing you could ever want to buy and then putting the list through a paper shredder and then feeding the scraps into the central air conditioning vent. Where they landed the racks were set up and stuff was sold. There are five sunglasses stores. There are two Elegance Perfume stores, one on each end. There are 15 stores that sell athletic shoes.

For you hardcore shoppers out there, this might be kid’s stuff, but for me, it was all so overwhelming. I just kept thinking back to the days when I would take my kids school clothes shopping and they would whine that they couldn’t find anything. If we had lived near the nation’s sixth largest mall, I would have just parked myself at one of the Cinnabons and sent the kids off to shop with the order: Don’t come back until you’ve got five outfits or a part-time job at a kiosk.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This Real Woman Doesn't Grill

We grilled a bunch of food for dinner last night and I let Paul,  one of our guests, take over the grilling. I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t know how to start the gas grill.

The fact that my husband handles all the outdoor, manly grill cooking and I am in charge of the girly indoor food preparation is another example of why men and women will always have a division of labor, at least in my house.

Here’s how I figure it: I could learn how to turn on the grill, even though it involves turning a knob that releases explosive gas and at the same time holding a lighter next to said gas hole. I could do it. I just don’t feel like it right now.

Because if I learn how to turn the grill on, I’ll end up doing all the outdoor cooking and all the indoor cooking. And the gender division of labor will go all askew and the earth might go off its axis a little bit. And that’s not a good thing for anyone. Least of all me.

The same goes for the cleaning. I’m in charge of the inside cleaning, just like all the non-feminist generations before me, and my husband is in charge of the grass and yard clean-up. He also considers the garage his territory. I’m perfectly capable of cutting the grass and weed whacking and trimming bushes, but please don’t tell my husband. Because before you could say Why are these people not hiring a yard service, I’d be doing it all, while my husband would be bragging about how he is fine with his wife having bigger biceps than him.

Since I quit my job to stay home with babies (otherwise known as sacrificing my at-the-time moderately lucrative career for you little apple-juice-breath ingrates) I’ve been slightly uncomfortable with this system. It’s so ridiculously Leave it to Beaver that it almost makes me want to figure out how to start the grill. Almost.

When I was in the thick of my stay-at-home mom years, my niece Emily came to visit from California. She was about 8 and was fascinated by our household set-up. She told my sister, “Mom, it’s so cool. Tim brings home the bacon and Diane cooks it!” I winced so hard I got a little bit sick.

As it turned out last night, Paul quickly figured out how to start the grill. And then he expertly grilled chicken, shrimp, zucchini, portobello mushrooms and red peppers that I put on top of pasta which I effeminately cooked in a pot on the stove.

Even though it’s embarrassing and even slightly nauseating, I’m surprisingly fine with it. More than anything, I don’t want to have to do all the work.
Friday, March 11, 2011

NIMBY Politics, Literally

The politics of my yard are getting more intense. I hadn’t been out there to do a lick of yard work in a long time, so yesterday I tried to do a little meet-and-greet and solve some problems - you know, let them know I am concerned about their well being and am committed to their happiness and success.

The Swoopy Purple Things were not happy about my husband’s recent forced eviction of their neighbors, the Rock-Hard Yellow Monster Bush, and they were pretty much staging a lie-in. I had to cut their tops off to get them to sit up straight.

Meanwhile, the Rock-Hard Yellow Monster Bush’s replacements were hanging in there. They’re a motley crew of ferns, Red Leafy Plants and nondescript bushes that are happy to be here, but still feeling the sting of the older, more established plants. No one likes to be the new kid.

Getting all the plants, trees, bugs and other living things to coexist harmoniously is hard work, let me tell you. Someone’s always causing trouble or threatening to commit suicide unless we provide more water and food, hire their friends, and clean up the crime in their neighborhood.

The biggest thorn in my side (is not roses, but, ha! Good one!) is the Delicate Ball Fringe Weed, which is gaining ground in the front beds. The Delicate Ball Fringe Weed is pretty and feminine; it looks like strands of ball fringe in which the balls were smashed flat and painted Sweet Pea green. Sure, they look cute, but make no mistake: The Delicate Ball Fringe Weed is the Agent Smith of the front yard. It works undercover and blends in with the bushes that you don’t ever look too closely at. Then quickly and quietly it infiltrates the whole damn bush. By the time you even notice it, it’s taken over. You can try pulling it out, but it will break off (thus the “Delicate” in its name). And then it will laugh at you and multiply before your very eyes. A lot of my time and efforts are being spent trying to save the front bushes from this cancerous blight.

The ivy surprised us all by running for re-election in the back beds and winning! I thought for sure they would be defeated by the Red Leafy Plants, which ran a tough campaign and got my husband’s endorsement. (“We’re Prettier and We Don’t Want to Take Over the World” was their slogan.) I was campaigning for the ivy, but was getting exasperated because it kept overstepping its bounds and climbing up the Red Leafy Plants and threatening to choke them and everything else to death. It’s embarrassing when you back a candidate that does something stupid and makes you regret it. But with some help from me and my clippers, the ivy kept a low enough profile to get another term. Now don’t screw it up, guys.

Wisconsinites could take a lesson from the agreement that I’ve been able to hammer out with the snakes. They are allowed to slither and squirm to their hearts’ delight behind the row of bushes under the study windows. They could hold Satanic rituals back there for all I care. I am not going back there. Ever again. But they need to stay out of the rest of the yard while I’m around. For the most part, they comply, but every so often I find a shed snakeskin lying on top of the bushes on the other side of the house. It’s their way of saying, “Yeah, I was here. While you sleep, you don’t know where I’m going to be. Watch yourself.”

We’re all about diversity here at my house, so we’ve introduced plants of all types and colors, native and non-native, ferns to represent the vasculars and spore producers, Those Plants That Start With an H That I Always Want to Call Hacienda or Hyacinth, and even some cacti. Even though we’ve tried to go all We-Are-the-World and get everyone to intermingle, the succulents tend to only want to grow in their own neighborhood. The avocado trees are both so pissed that we separated them and made them live with others that are not their kind, that they both refuse to produce any fruit. “Why can’t you all just get along?” I yelled at them just yesterday. They didn’t answer. They’re very good at giving me the cold shoulder.

Sometimes constituents can be such a pain in the ass. Even though I can't remember any of their names, I do sincerely care about them. Sometimes they need so much stroking. There are times that I am this close to threatening to bring in some bamboo just to keep everyone in line.
Thursday, March 10, 2011

College Matrix a la Mom

My daughter just finished up a search for a college. She hasn’t chosen yet, but I don’t even care what the outcome is. The search is over. Now I can sit back, unpack my suitcase, organize my collection of single-serving hotel shampoo bottles, manicure kits and shower caps I’ll never use, and start working on my chart.

We had a lot of fun traveling through five states, looking at seven schools. Well, I had fun. I got to be the chaperon/agent while she had to audition and take tests. She performed for auditions in front of people with furrowed brows and clipboards; and I hit the doughnut table. She had to remember her music and special-ordered, handmade reeds; I had to remember my toothbrush. She had to carefully get her instrument onto the plane without having big people with big suitcases smash it to smithereens; I had to remember where we left our car in the airport garage. She had to wear her semi-semi-formal black pants, black sweater, black flats; I got to wear all my favorite winter clothes that haven’t been out of mothballs since I moved to Florida.

But now she gets to sit back and wait for the offers to come in. And my work begins. I have to start working on my chart.

My chart will list the pros and cons, costs and curriculum of each school. It will be all official and academic and boring and then, at the end, I’ll add a column of my own - things that made an impression on me when we visited.

School #1
- has Miles Davis’ trumpet in a glass case in the main music building atrium. (Yay!) Also a tour guide told us great stories about when Miles’ family all got together for the first time in said atrium and there was all kinds of juicy antics that ensued. Lots of different offspring by lots of different women make for great stories while standing around the trumpet case. The tour guide gets extra points for telling us  something interesting on a tour of a building.

School #2
- is warm and I won’t get to wear any of my Ireland clothes. (Boo!) But I also won’t have to buy my daughter a whole new winter wardrobe. (Yay!) Four more years of flip-flops and tank tops make for a great school uniform.

School #3
- is in an awesome area with great restaurants. This school gets extra points for providing me with the best two dinners I had during the entire college search. Already knowing where to go get food when I’m visiting my daughter is a plus. (Yay!)

School #4
- I got yelled at - yes, yelled at - when I started to open a door that I thought was the coat room. Oh, I don’t know, maybe because there was a sign that said COAT ROOM THIS WAY with an arrow pointing to the door. After yelling at me and then hearing my explanation, the lady with the walkie-talkie harumphed and turned the sign around and did not say she was sorry. (Boo!) I didn’t make a fuss, but only because my daughter whispered to me as we walked away, “Don’t screw things up for me here, Mom, m‘kay?”

School #5
- Professor mentioned that he reads my blog. (Yay!)

School #6
- has a nearby Doubletree where I’m now a frequent flier. Warm cookie at check-in. (Yay!)

School #7
- James Franco goes to school here, although he goes to school everywhere, doesn’t he? Still, the people-watching at the campus Starbucks brings a lot to the table. (Yay!)

These things may not even be considered when she’s choosing a school, but I think it’s important to put it all out there. Perspective is good.

Also, cookies are good, which is why I’m plugging School #6.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Warning: Dying May Cause Death

You’ve probably seen these funny warning labels before. I’m posting them anyway because a) they continue to be stupid funny even the second and third time you see them and b) you never know when someone might accidentally eat a peanut, not knowing it contains peanuts, because names and labels can be so confusing these days. So this blog might save a life.

Manufacturers claim they’re forced to put warnings on their product labels that are obvious to everyone except Amelia Bedelia, because if they didn’t, someone would do something misuseful and then sue the pants off of them, claiming that they didn’t know any better.

A Forbes article wraps it up nicely: “These cases basically boil down to two principles. First, companies must take care not to put customers in ‘unforeseen" danger, assuming that those customers act in a "reasonable’ manner when using a product or service. Repeatedly jabbing a bottle of Coca-Cola in your eye and suing for damages probably wouldn't fly in court. Second, companies have to provide sufficient warning of "foreseeable" danger. Hence the proliferation of all those goofy warning labels on products and websites.”

I don’t know about you, but that makes me want to repeatedly jab a bottle of Coke Classic in my eye, just to see what happens. The article said probably wouldn’t fly in court.

So here are some real life product warning labels. Read them and obey. Or die.

Don't operate car when sunshade is in place.

This product may contain nuts.

This product may contain eggs.

May cause drowsiness.

Do not use while sleeping.
Unless you're that girl from the weird addictions show who sleeps with her hair dryer, and then you go, girl.

Contents may catch fire.

The Vanishing Fabric Marker should not be used as a writing instrument for signing checks or any legal documents . . .

Do not put any person in the washer.

Not to be used for navigation.
“But captain, we can’t be in the Bermuda Triangle. The cocktail napkin says we’re headed straight for Persia”

Keep pet birds out of the kitchen when using this product.
“Many animal owners call us inquiring about it,” a company spokesman for Bialetti cookware said.  Well, many animal owners are idiots.

Do not use for personal hygiene.
Unless you smell like a latrine.

This product moves when used.
God willing.
Ask a doctor before using if you have difficulty urinating due to an enlarged prostate.

Do not eat iPod shuffle.
Who says Apple products are intuitive?
Monday, March 7, 2011

Live, From the City That Never Slee-zzzzzzz

I felt a little bit bad for New York on Friday.

When I arrived for the weekend,  I was all set for a Sex in the City moment and instead got more of an NYPD Blue. Remember, those cops were in their jammies and in bed by 10.

My niece, Lauren and I met in our hotel bar, where she bought me a glass of wine (You know you're a real grownup when you pay your aunt's bar tab. Bravo, Lauren.) We were making signs of ordering another, when the barmaid suggested we check out the rooftop bar. "It's really cool up there," she said. "You can see the Empire State Building." She even took the liberty of arranging our elevator ride up there with the hotel security guy, James Bond. We were closing out our tab when he came up behind us, all black suit and hair gel. He had a curly cord behind his ear that I last saw on Michelle Obama's secret service agents. Also Clint Eastwood.

He walked us to the special elevator where Moneypenny, with her own curly ear cord, took us to the roof. Bond let Lauren leave her suitcase at the entrance. "It'll be fine," he told her. "The only people up here are our guys." Your guys? Where were we? And is it possible to die of having a night that is so drastically different from your normal life of band boosters and stain removal?

"This way, ladies."

I'll never know. The rooftop bar was all glassed in and the skyline view at night was stunning. I not only pictured Lauren and I hanging out by the window with a glass of Chardonnay, but I had written half the script and planned a costume change.

"The bar closed at 12," the bartender told us.

Lauren looked at her watch. "OK, it's 12:05."


"Sorry, ladies," one of the bartender/secret agent/manager/hair product models said.

"Well, we can at least go back to the bar downstairs and get another drink down there," Lauren said.

"Mmmm," Bond looked at his secret rescue weapon, cleverly disguised as a watch. "She might have just called last call."

"Isn't this the city that never sleeps?" I asked.

"Well, some places sleep," he said.

Not when I'm visiting from suburbia, they shouldn't.  I don't think New York realizes that I'm about as lame as it gets in the nightlife department. I'm in my 50s, I'm from Ohio, and I'm working on a couple different kinds of arthritis. If I still want a drink, I think you should still be serving drinks.

Fortunately the rest of the weekend came through with more of what I expected. On Saturday, we saw a show, shopped at a vintage clothing store that had virtually nothing priced under three figures not even a puny little scarf, went to Justin Timberlake's bar with a guy who works for Def Jam Records (no, I don't know him, I was just part of a group, but still), and almost got knocked down when our cabbie backed up just as I was starting to get into the cab.

So nice to see that New York hasn't turned into anyone's hometown yet.
Thursday, March 3, 2011

Excuse Me, But Your Perfume is Starting to Smell

I was walking around Sephora a couple nights ago, part of the shopping marathon that has started with a bang, now that my mother-in-law is here and we’ve all stopped coughing long enough to park the car at the mall. I mistakenly sprayed on some perfume. It was pretty much downhill from there.

I’m not really qualified to wear a scent. I’ve had some bad experiences with how my perfume affects those around me. Okay, I’ve had one bad experience with someone complaining about my perfume. But for most of my adulthood, I’ve struggled with perfume: Should I wear it? Should I not wear it? How much should I spend? What does my perfume say about me? Should I just be happy with the overly scented soaps and shampoos and fabric softeners that are able to mask BO and the old man smell that I fear?

So I don’t know what possessed me to squirt on some Pure Grace, the pink one of the Grace perfumes. Yuck. My dog Grace - the reason I suspect I picked up the bottle to begin with - smelled better. And she used to roll in her own poop.

Instead of spritzing out, it came out like a fire hose. Instead of wiping it off, I used my other wrist to soak up the excess. I smelled like a 13-year-old that rolled in her own cotton candy.

That’s my problem with perfume: It makes you smell like something else, whether it’s someone younger and ditzier than you, or older and with better taste, or a vanilla cupcake. I know I’m not going to change anyone’s opinion of me by the way I smell, but they could draw some conclusions about me on a first impression, so I’m torn about what to do about my smell. Because I pretty much want to be seen and smelled as the 52-year-old middle class white woman that I am, and I’m not sure there’s a perfume for that.

I looked anyway.

Hearts and Daggers . . . Fracas . . . Alien . . . Earthworm . . . Solar Donkey Power . . . Funeral Home . . . Delicious Closet Queen . . . Nope.

I think I’ll stick with what I’ve been wearing - Cheez-It Breath and Just Minced Some Garlic.