Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Paper Boy AKA Flat Stanley

I don’t know if you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Flat Stanley. He’s a children’s book character that resembles a cut out gingerbread cookie. I call him Paper Boy. Teachers have their primary grade students send multiple Paper Boys in envelopes to recipients who student’s parents know love the pupil. For a said period of time, these selected “guardians” will go to any extreme to make the children happy, have a camera, and will be willing to take Paper Boy with them no matter where they go and snap away. After the “vacation” is over, Paper Boy and pictures are returned to the teacher.

I spent enough years in front of a classroom to know Paper Boy’s travels are probably a great way to teach creative writing and/or geography. If my grandchild had sent me Paper Boy, I would follow the rules to a “T.” “T” stands for time. I learned when my sons were little, only their grandparents had unlimited time and patience for projects like Paper Boy. Nothing has changed. After one or two anecdotes, most other adults want to switch back to “business on hand.”

The first time I met Paper Boy, a friend had brought him to a women’s luncheon. After ten minutes of enduring Paper Boy’s caretaker posing him with each of us, and then making us snap pictures while she “fed” her charge, the women seated with me began to gently kick or poke each other under the table. Our attention had definitely waned. In the polite world, if Grandma doesn’t get the hint while she’s monopolizing the conversation about her brilliant offspring, the rest of us sit with Botox like smiles on our face while suppressing a yawn.

Fast forward five years. Paper Boy is once again making his rounds of South Florida. Thankfully, unlike the other Grammy, this new Gram obeys the unofficial “talking about your grandkid’s” time limit rule. After spending a few, and I mean few, minutes building Mah Jongg tiles like blocks, Paper Boy was tucked neatly into the side of Gram’s bag where he “napped” for the entire afternoon. Because he was so well behaved and didn’t annoy her peers the first time she brought him along, Gram let him come to a special birthday celebration held at a very, very well known Palm Beach Country Club last week. The doormen smiled as Paper Boy was posed at the entrance next to the name on the door. The hot son must have tired Paper Boy because he immediately wanted to nap in Gram’s oversized purse. After lunch, we toured the estate. The men’s room door was open (for cleaning), and the john, complete with gold plated plumbing, was quite visibly empty. This was a good thing because that’s when Paper Boy awoke and needed to “go.” The kind maintenance man let him use the facilities. A picture was snapped of Paper Boy standing at the urinal.

Now will said Grandma have the courage to send an “indecent” picture back with all the other ones she took showing how eclectic her life in Seniorville is? As of this writing, the retired teacher inside of her says it might cause her to be put in Grammy time-out for kind of making fun of a worthwhile project. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Fear Facto

According to Hubby, I’m lucky my head and arms are attached to my body because my multi-tasking ability “‘taint what it used to be.” As I dash from one “play date” to the next—with doctor’s appointments and marketing my book squeezed in-between—I’m constantly misplacing my glasses, my keys, my cell phone, or whatever I am suppose to bring or take with me.

Supposedly, I’ve been told, forgetting where you placed things, like car keys, doesn’t mean you’re becoming demented. Begin to fear the illnesses if you don’t remember what the keys are for. To that I say, “Bull.” My mother’s illness started with her not being able to find things, but she knew what they were for—right up until the end. Recently I had a 24-hour period of losing track of almost everything that wasn’t attached to me.

My living nightmare began after I played Mah Jongg at a friend’s house. Once home, I realized my Mah Jongg card was missing. For those who do not know the game, playing without this is akin to playing Bridge without cards. A phone call to my hostess let me know it was on her counter. I picked it up the next morning before heading 45-minutes south for lunch and more Mah Jongg. When the afternoon of joviality and games was over, I rushed out because I had a business appointment—I do have a life besides Mah Jongg!

One block before the entrance to the expressway, my cell phone rang. “You left your glasses here,” my friend said.

As I made my u-turn, my head pounded with the fear the dreaded dementia was nibbling my brain. Twenty minutes later, glasses safely tucked in my bag, I was on the highway heading home. I reached into my pocket for my cell so I could call my husband to let him know I was late. The phone wasn’t there. Panic set in, and at 65 mph, this is dangerous. Did I drop it when I had gotten out of the car to get the glasses? With one hand on the steering wheel, I dumped my bag’s contents onto the passenger’s seat. No phone. Tears filled my eyes.

How could I not have heard it crash to the ground when I got out of the car? I felt my ear to double check my hearing aides weren’t MIA also. I’m always in such a hurry I don’t concentrate. I’M NOT DEMENTED, JUST RUSHING TOO MUCH. I guess I didn’t believe my own repeated reassuring thoughts because tears streamed down my cheeks. I also stopped focusing on the road and didn’t notice the sign warning me that my lane was becoming an exit lane that lead me off the highway.

Two long traffic lights and one u-turn later, I was once again on the expressway. The constant pounding inside my head from my fear of the imminent death of my brain halted suddenly at the sound of the melodic music box tune that emanates from my cell phone. Relief was brief. The sound was nearby, but the phone was nowhere in sight. It took two calls—thankfully the caller was persistent—to discover the hiding place.

Okay dear readers. What’s worse? Dementia or having a butt so thick I couldn’t feel the hard phone underneath it? I know the answer. The only upside of my mother’s illness is she no longer cared about her weight.