Remove Cell Phone From Back Pocket

You might not want to borrow my phone today. In fact, I don’t even want to borrow my phone.  She went down without a fight.  Overboard.  Into the deep brown sea.

Like a mother diving in without a thought to rescue a drowning child, my hand shot to the very bottom with hopes of a successful retrieve, minus the mouth-to-mouth.  Funny enough, the other day, I was thinking that I should sign up for a CPR class.  Things happen when you least expect them.  Not when you worry about them day and night like a mother does.  In this case, my CPR certification would have included reading that silly article about what to do when your phone becomes submerged in “water”.

My first thought was to dry her off before she realized where she’d landed.  But I just couldn’t.  So I turned on the faucet available next to me, and quickly ran her under a stream of water.  The three capsules of magnesium I took before bed last night came to mind.  A natural muscle relaxant, the chiropractor had said.  Helps with consistent bowel movements and really cleans you out.

I quickly ran up to the computer to Google up what to do in a case like this.  The Internet wouldn’t work.  A joke?  I glanced over at her.  Her battery lay off to the side, her shell next to it.  I picked up her pathetic body, examining it as if I had any knowledge of her workings.  It was strange how this brilliant metal contraption took on a human format.  Everything I had invested into it these past few years lay there lifeless, perhaps now data-free.  Worse yet, how would anyone reach me today?  This wasn’t the 90’s.  My husband might call to ask me how to spell a word.  My grown kids might call to tell me how a band practice went, or ask me the difference between baking soda and baking powder.  My friend might try to call at the last minute to cancel our Happy Hour meeting.  Then I realized the refridgerator repair guy was supposed to call me today, and who else?  At least today I wouldn’t be annoyed with that constant recorded message about qualifying for a lower credit something or other.

Then it occurred to me.  I have a hair dryer.  I gathered up her three pieces and we headed to the bathroom.  She screamed a silent scream as we passed the toilet.  I marveled at how that battery could hold so much information.  A battery?  Wait a minute.  It’s a battery.  Batteries don’t hold information.  Then I looked closer.  There is was.  A tiny prosciutto-thin chip, still neatly tucked into a slot.  I pulled it out, turned it over, and saw a bead of water on it.  A ray of hope.  I turned the hairdryer on and off, willing the warm air to heal, then packaged up her parts for another try.  No luck.  I blew dried her again.  Still no luck.  So I literally left her out to dry while I washed up, combed my hair, and got dressed.

Moments later, I tried again.  A tiny little hourglass appeared, turning; she was coming back to life.  Her name appeared next, “BlackBerry”.  A white line moved across her body, filling her with new breath.  Patiently, I waited.  Okay, not so patiently.  Then it happened.  She started talking to me.  Asking me to confirm the current date and time.  I panicked.  How did I know what day or time it was?  She always told me those things.  She suggested the date.  I hit “OK”.

And then, there he was.  My husband, smiling at me with that “Hurry and take the picture” look.  My screensaver had kicked in, bright and clear.  My emails popped up, and I was alive again.  I would have my family, friends, and life back.  I would be whole again.  I would even appreciate the phone I had come to complain about, thinking she wasn’t as smart as the “smart” models who were taking over the world.

Somewhere in all of this, I know there is a lesson to be learned.  What lesson do YOU see in this experience?

I Should Have Opened a Restaurant

I’m sure I missed my calling. In fact, I’m sure I could have owned the most popular restaurant in town.

Is it just me, or are we seeing more and more new restaurant owners oblivious to some pretty simple, basic needs when trying to create a successful business?

Seriously, how can an owner invest thousands of dollars into a lifelong dream without thoroughly researching the effects of lighting, seating comfort, quality of food, pricing, and staff?

I will usually try a place twice. My husband Alex, isn’t quite as generous. After a place goes out of business and a new owner comes in, I am willing to try it again. Alex, on the other hand just won’t do it, at least without me begging for a while. And sure enough, nine times out of ten, Alex gets to do the “I told you so” thing.

Apparently, as a customer, I look at myself a little differently than the owner does. When I enter a restaurant for the first time, I am an important food critic. I am looking to have a lifelong relationship with this place. On weekends, I will hope my favorite table is available. I will greet the owner by first name and he or she will do the same to me. I will probably never explore beyond my very first entree because it will capture my taste buds forever. I will expect to enjoy an evening that will allow me to accept the extra pound on the scale the next morning. Am I asking too much?

Here’s my advice to you restaurant owners:

Don’t serve me a pulled pork sandwich on a stale bun. Don’t put me under a glaring light that melts my makeup. Don’t charge me $12 for a glass of wine. And don’t make me have to run back to the car to grab a blanket when it’s 95 degrees outside.

Do read body language from your customers. It’s not that hard. Visit each table and ask the important questions, and for suggestions. And for those who don’t want to tell you to your face, provide a suggestion box at the counter. Match price with value to let people know you appreciate their hard earned dollars. Provide seating in which we can relax. We prefer comfort over style. And lastly, BE there.

Damn it, I should have opened a restaurant.

Waiting for a Green Light

There are plenty of things that make me feel uneasy; like running into old boyfriends that look better than they should, or selecting a cucumber next to a strange man in the produce section. But the one thing that takes me far beyond these temporary discomforts, is coming face-to-face with someone begging on a street corner. So much so, that I seem to have developed a standard practice of ducking behind my Honda Element’s unusually large blind-spot when approaching red lights.

I just can’t ignore these people no matter how hard I try. They are human beings. People I don’t know and don’t want to know, but in the hollow darkness of their eyes I always manage to see the face of one of my kids, or another loved one. That’s when it becomes real.

In those same moments, an entire script of this stranger’s life plays out before me. He comes into this world with a clean slate, entitled to love and care, and the encouragement that would one day allow him to own a successful little restaurant, or feel the joy of raising a beautiful son or daughter. He is born with the ability to change the world. But none of these possibilities seem to exist now.

I look past the filth on his hands that hold the standard cardboard plea for help and I see the face of an innocent, wide-eyed child. He is holding a crayon, about to draw something. I wonder if it will be a picture of himself as a pilot or a fireman, or something else that represents his dreams. Or will he draw a sad family wearing torn clothing and bruises, standing next to empty food bowls?

Then I visualize him in high school. Popular. Good-looking. Surrounded by successful peers, all with solid plans for a bright future. But perhaps not. Maybe his evenings were spent alone in his room fantasizing about unattainable girls or peers who would not accept him, or even just a simple, safe lifestyle.

Lastly, I see him just one short year ago, straightening his tie as he walks briskly down Wall Street. His briefcase is filled with well-prepared notes for a meeting that will determine his financial fate. If not, perhaps he was fighting for this country just months ago, while I drove comfortably in the vehicle I now use to shield myself from him.

A sickness arises in my stomach. I feel powerless and disgustingly supreme, all at the same time. I will see him here tomorrow, and the next day. I may even start to bond with him in a distant mental way. That would be even worse.

When I know he isn’t looking, I steal another fleeting glance, reinforcing my curiosity as to how clean he could possibly be under the layers of soiled clothing. That’s when I see the despair in his face and I feel it too. A short-lived image crosses my mind of me bringing him home, as I might after visiting an animal shelter, hoping to change a life and make it all better.

He approaches my car. Will I see him as my son, or as a stranger? I am doomed to face the intruder of my conscience. I must decide in an instant. A pang of guilt strikes me as I glance over to see if my doors are locked. I know he won’t try to get in. He is humble, and broken, and all of his belongings lay waiting on thinning grass at the side of the road. But I do it anyway, most times. Except for the time I rolled down the window and leaned out to hand him some lunch meat and an apple. He politely declined the apple, stating that he had no teeth to chew it.

If it were my child standing on a street corner, lost and disheartened, would someone else be doing exactly what I am doing? That’s when a tear comes to my eye. That is when the light turns green.

Today I Discovered What Being a REAL Athlete is All About

When my phone rang, I was happy to see it was my husband.

“Hi, Suze?”

“Hey.”

But less excited when he asked the following…

“I’m on my way home. Do you want to go for a bike ride?”

If you’ve read my “Confessions” section, I’m sure you’re aware of my intense aversion to exercise. A distaste that may one day get me kicked out of Boulder County. However, I do surprise myself from time to time, and pull a new trick or two out of my…self. It’s been six months since I’ve exercised. Not really all that long.

I can usually come up with a good-sounding excuse to get me out of a bicycle ride with my husband Alex, the pedal freak. But today I was feeling generous. So when he asked me to go on a short ride with him, I decided to suck it up and jump right into a quick irrational commitment for a change. Maybe because I know it’s something he really wants to share with me; the joy he gets from feeling the fresh mountain breeze on his face as he pedals through nature on new-found trails. Something we Detroit gals don’t easily relate to. Or maybe it’s because I just plain feel bad when I see him content with the bikes we bought together 25 years ago, his all jacked up from overuse and mine abandoned in the basement, in mint condition.

Yeah, it was both of those reasons and maybe even more, like feeling guilty that I wasn’t the athlete he thought I was when he married me, those same 25 years ago. Starting off our marriage with two new bikes, we had both looked forward to forming a deep connection, pedaling thousands of miles together through rocky terrain, all the while picking bugs out of our teeth. He knew it would happen. I hoped it would.

The guilt was bringing me to tears. Well, close. But why did he have to be such a damned addict? Why couldn’t he just be reasonable and ride the bike for pleasure, like to the coffee shop or around town, waving to the neighbors and smiling at barking dogs? Why did he have to ruin the concept of what bicycling is supposed to be?

He was still on the other end of the line, headed home from the acupuncturist, waiting for an answer on this beautiful Saturday morning.

“Suze?”

“Ah, yeah.”

“So…what do you think…would you be up for a bike ride?”

It was the question I’d declined so many times. There was no rain, no snow, no wind, not even a flippin’ cloud. What would I say, “Why don’t we go some other time when the weather isn’t so perfect?”

“Suze? Are you still there?”

“Sure, I’d love to go for a bike ride with you.” I worried for a moment that he might lose control of the car. Instead, he went into a long list of reasons why it would be so wonderful, as if still trying to convince me.

“Yeah, that sounds good.”

“Great! I’ll be home in about twenty minutes and we can just hop on the bikes and take off, okay?”

“Okay, see you then.” My voice was so pleasant, even I thought for a minute I’d like to be married to me. I hung up the phone. Damn. I started visualizing me trying to keep up with Alex as he barely pedaled, wobbling and trying not to topple off his bike. Then I thought about how I would probably start to sweat at some point and succumb to the temptation of leaning into my armpit to confirm my hard work, ultimately the cause of my demise.

 Stop psyching yourself out, I told myself. Hurry and get those diaper-looking black shorts on and act excited and be ready when he gets home. Where were those shorts anyway? And would they even still fit? Then I smiled. Yes, they would. I had just lost 15 pounds on that 21-day cleanse Alex and I finished up last month. That’s right, if I could find the shorts, I would be sliding into ‘em and feeling pretty good.

*  *  *

“You’re ready!” Alex walked in the door, extremely pleased to see that I had my bicycling shorts on and was keeping my word.

“Yep.”

“I’m just going to change into my gear. I’ll be right back.”

While he was upstairs I strolled past the mirror, wondering how I would get my helmet on without messing up my hair. A ponytail seemed inevitable. It would go through a hole in the back of the helmet, no doubt implemented by a woman who had stepped in to help out the male designers. I’d already minimized my makeup. I chuckled at the remote possibility that I might be riding so fast no one would recognize me anyway.

Alex came around the corner into the kitchen, looking like a neon bug. “You ready?” he asked.

“So you said short, right? What do you mean by short?” There I was about to spoil it. But I knew from experience, it had to be addressed before the ride. Years ago, we had started out on a bike ride in the morning wearing tank tops and shorts. Halfway through, we had to stop at a thrift shop to buy coats for a 30-degree drop in temperature. Snow and sleet came in, freezing my fingers around the handlebars as we worked our way home against 80-mile-an-hour winds, dodging lightening bolts under pitch black clouds. We were forced to take cover inside an Office Max. By the time we got home, fifty or sixty miles later, it was time for bed. Neither of us said much to each other after that.

“Just a few miles. You’re gonna love it. Trust me.”

*  *  *

I was determined I would impress him for what would probably turn out to be a good solid three miles. Total. And maybe if that adrenalin thing I’d heard about kicked in, it could be five…or six. Yes, today I was determined to find out what being a real athlete was all about.

And here is what I discovered:

  • Real athletes don’t stop every ten minutes to check their cell phones.
  • They don’t spend the whole ride wondering if their lipstick is still in their back pocket.
  • Real athletes on bikes don’t let joggers pass them.
  • Real athletes on bikes don’t let three-legged Chihuahuas pass them.
  • They don’t burn holes through their tires from braking downhill.
  • And they don’t complain when the “short” ride turns out to be a “medium” ride.
  • And for sure, real athletes don’t hear helicopters above and think Flight for Life has come to rescue them.

Yes, today I discovered what being a REAL athlete is all about.

And I am definitely not a REAL athlete.