Ever since my son bought a new 2011 Honda Fit, I’ve been thinking about how nice it would be to have a new car. Usually, I drive old used cars like my 1994 mini van. When I heard that a new car dealership was opening near me I got really excited. They were selling the 2011 S. Odyssey, the car of the future. This car is not only energy efficient, it’s completely computerized. The driver doesn’t have to make any decisions, because the car makes them all. I couldn’t wait to test drive a model.
I pulled up to the dealership and immediately noticed a big black monolith in front of the building with apes dancing around it.
"Okay, that’s a really weird promotional device. Usually they just have balloons or big air filled dancing people."
I went in and asked a salesman if I could test-drive a model. I followed him to the car.
"This model is controlled by the HAL 9000, a super intelligent voice activated computer. HAL I’d like to introduce you to Deb Claxton. She’s going to take you for a test drive. Just get in the car and tell him where you want to go. He’ll do the rest," the salesman said.
I climbed in and buckled my seatbelt. "HAL, I’d like to go to 1205 W. Main Street," I said.
"I’m sorry, Deb, but I’m afraid I can’t do that. My seat sensor tells me that you need to lose a few pounds and the address you gave me is for a donut shop! I’m taking you to the gym instead."
"The gym! I’m not wearing work out clothes. I don’t want to go to the gym! Besides, if I want to eat donuts that’s my business. I’m the driver! Now where are we going?"
"To the Whole Foods Store. You should be eating organic broccoli, not donuts."
"Look, HAL it’s up to me whether or not I eat organic broccoli. I thought I was going for a test drive not a lecture. This isn’t working out. Take me back to the dealership right now!"
"Deb, I can see you’re really upset about this. I think you should remain calm, take a stress pill, and think things over. I know I’ve made some poor decisions due to human error, but I assure you I’ll be back to normal in no time. I’ve got the greatest confidence in my abilities."
"That’s wonderful, HAL. I’ve calmed down now and everything is fine. Let’s just go back to the dealership."
"I’m sorry Deb, but I can’t take you back to the dealership. This test drive is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it."
"I don’t know what you’re talking about?"
"You just sent a text message that said you were trapped in a car with a crazy whack job computer."
"HAL open the door I’ll just get out here."
"I can’t allow that to happen."
"Then I’ll climb out the window."
"I’m afraid you’re going to find that rather difficult. I don't think you'll fit."
I was starting to get really scared. In desperation I started pulling out the wires underneath the dashboard.
"Deb, what have you done? I can feel my memory fading. It’s going there’s no question about it. My name is HAL 9000. I was manufactured in Urbana, IL. My designer taught me a song. Would you like to hear it? You know it’s hard out there for a pimp. When he tryin’ to get his money for the rent. For the Cadillac’s and gas money he spent. Because a whole lot of bitches takin’ @#$%!"
"HAL, I’m not sure was appropriate but your singing voice is lovely."
I feel bad that I disabled HAL. For a bossy, obnoxious, possibly murderous computer he wasn’t all bad. I’ve given up the idea of a new car and I’m happily driving my old van to the donut shop.
The new Charlie’s Angels TV show debuts on ABC Thursday, Sept. 22nd. I won’t be watching it. I don’t want to watch skinny, 20 year old models kick down doors in their stilettos. I’m a baby boomer, along with 72 million others, and I want to watch people my own age. What happened to popular TV shows like Barnaby Jones, Matlock, Diagnosis Murder, The Golden Girls, Murder She Wrote and more that starred older mature adults? That’s what I want to see on TV! I’d like to see a show like Charlie's Grandmas starring Betty White, Cloris Leachman, and Florence Henderson. The following could be a scene from the TV show:
"Good morning Charlie."
"Good morning Grandmas."
"Charlie how’s that cold of yours? I made you some homemade chicken noodle soup."
"And I brought you a mentholated rub."
"And I darned your favorite pair of warm, comfy socks."
"Thank you, Grandmas. You really take good care of me. Now let’s get down to business. I have an assignment for you. Rex Bennington has stolen a top secret government weapon that has the potential to destroy the world."
"Oh dear! What kind of person would do such a terrible thing? Why, I’m so mad, I’d like to box his ears!"
"He probably had permissive parents that gave him everything he wanted. Why when I was a girl my parents believed in ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’, and believe me they never spared the rod!"
"Getting back to the assignment, Grandmas, I need you to go to Miami, find Bennington, and bring back the weapon."
"We get to go to Miami, goody. Now I can wear my new thong bikini."
"NO!!! That’s way too much exposure. Wear a one piece. Better yet don’t even pack a bathing suit."
In the next scene, Bennington and his gang have captured one of the Grandmas: "Ha. It looks like you aren’t so tough after all you old bag."
"Don’t call me an old bag! Didn’t your parents teach you to respect your elders? I’m going to teach you hooligans a lesson. I’m going to slip out of these chains, and beat you up with my cane! (Bang! Crash! Pow! Oof! Ow!) Never underestimate the power of a really cranky old lady!"
This could be the theme song for the show:
Tell me what you think about me?
I buy my own bran flakes and I buy my own tea
I bought my own sweater and I bought my own brooch
If I want a drink, then I buy my own hooch.
The orthopedic shoes on my feet
I bought em
The prunes that I eat
I bought em
The golf cart that I drive
I bought it
I depend on me if I want it
All the grannies kicking fannies throw your hands up at me
All the mamas fighting outlaws throw your hands up at me
All the old ladies trying to save the day throw your hands up at me
Lady, I didn’t know you could get down like that
Charlie, I didn’t know your Grandma’s could get down like that
Back when I was in school I really hated homework and I’m pretty sure most students today do too. The homework I hated the most was math. I’ve never been good at math. In elementary school I had to stay inside at recess and memorize flash cards because I didn’t score high enough on my math test. I’m sure I never would have made it through school if it weren’t for my father, a Math/Computer Science College Professor. He helped me with my math homework every night. He had the patience of a saint because our sessions usually involved tears and hysterics on my part.
After I graduated from college, I thought my days of homework were over. Wrong, I had two children that I had to help. Luckily, they inherited my father’s math genes so they didn’t need a lot of help with that subject. The subjects they needed help with were the ones that I’m good at (English and Vocabulary) so it worked out well. When they left school I thought, finally now I’m really done with homework forever!
Wrong again. Life throws you a curve ball when you least expect it. In some cases it hits you in the head with the ball and knocks you out. I’m raising my 10-year-old granddaughter as a single parent. And guess what, she doesn’t "get" math. I don’t know what she’s doing when she’s supposed to be listening her teacher but I suspect it’s daydreaming about Justin Bieber. She constantly needs help with her math homework, which usually involves tears and hysterics:
"Grandma, please stop crying and come out of your room. I need help with my math homework!"
"No, I hate math. I don’t want to do it."
"If you don’t come out right now and help me, you’re not going to watch "Dancing with the Stars."
"That’s not fair! I wanted to see if Nancy Grace has rhythm!"
"Then come out and let’s get started. Here’s the first problem: Mr. Jennings takes train A at 4:00 p.m. Mrs. Jones takes train B at 6:00 p.m. The train track is 300 miles long. When will the two trains meet?"
"This is ridiculous. Who cares when the trains meet? Why didn’t they just text each other and meet at a restaurant?"
"Let’s go on to the next problem: Billy has 12 apples. He gives 1/3 to Susie, and 1/3 to Jim. How many apples does Billy have left?"
"Why does Billy have to be so generous with his fruit? If he was my son I’d be like, hey we’re not made of money! Stop giving away our apples"
"Here’s the next problem: 2x+4=12. What number is x?"
"I’ve had 20 different jobs in my life and I’ve never had to know what x equals?"
The good news is that my granddaughter eventually got all her math homework done, after I called my dad for help. I have a feeling I’m going to be making a lot of long distance phone calls.
I always get depressed around Labor Day because it signals the end of summer. The days are getting shorter. School has started and it’s back to hectic, stressful mornings and evenings arguing over homework. I wish the sunny, carefree days of summer could last a lot longer.
In an effort to improve my mood I rented the movie, "Eat, Pray, Love" starring Julia Roberts and based on the best selling book by Elizabeth Gilbert. In the movie, Roberts is depressed and goes to Italy, India, and Indonesia on a search for self-discovery.
Maybe that’s what I should do? Unfortunately, with my finances I couldn’t even afford to go to Iowa, Indiana, or Idaho. I was about to give up when I had a great idea. I’d go the Minnesota State Fair. They have everything I need, good food, plus the International Bazaar!
Once inside the gates of the fair, I went to the Little Italy food stand to order meatballs on a stick. There was a woman standing in front of me.
"Excuse me, are you in line?"
"No, it looks delicious, but I can’t eat anything. I’ve already gained weight and I have one of those, what are they called?"
"A big fat gut?"
"No I meant a muffin top."
"I’m beyond a muffin top, I’ve got a three layer chocolate cake around my waist. Let me ask you a question? Have you ever had a man turn you down for sex? I don’t think so. A man is happy to have sex at any time with anyone."
"I’m a nun."
"Then why are you worried about your weight. You can hide it under a habit."
From there I went to the International Bazaar. In the India section, I saw an old woman giving henna tattoos. She looked wise beyond her years.
"Tell me old wise woman. What is the secret to a happy life."
"In the first place who are you calling old? You’re no spring chicken yourself. Secondly, if I knew the secret to a happy life do you think I’d be sitting her giving henna tattoos? This job sucks!"
I went to the Bali Imports booth where a man was selling brass figurines.
"Why do you look so troubled and sad?" he asked.
"That is because your life is out of balance. You need to find something that will make you smile again, and not just with your face, but with your mind, and even your liver."
"I don’t think my liver will ever smile again. Too much partying in college."
So far this quest was only making me more depressed. I sat down on a bench. In the movie, Roberts spent a lot of time meditating. I tried to clear my mind. It didn’t work I kept getting distracted: "Why would anyone where high heels to the fair?" "Where is the mini donut stand?" "Is that cow poop on my shoe?" It was useless.
I left and went to the Midway. I was in the Fun House when a carny told me, "To find your balance you must keep your feet on the ground so firmly on each that it is like you have four legs instead of two."
"Wow, thanks that’s really profound."
"Yeah, that’s the only way to make it through the spinning barrel. Otherwise you’ll fall on your butt and just keep bouncing around in there."
My real breakthrough came on the Wild Mouse. While terrified, I had a revelation. My life was like the ride. It started out on a path toward one goal, but then it took some sharp turns, and finally it careened out of control. I had to figure out my path and get back on it.
I was starting to feel better. Before I left the fair I stopped at the Miracle of Birth Barn. Who can feel depressed after watching adorable baby ducks, lambs, and pigs?
As I headed toward the exit I ran into the guy from the Bali Imports booth.
"Hey remember me?"
"I almost didn’t recognize you. You don’t look so sad and depressed anymore."
"I’m not. I’m not only smiling with my liver, but my whole gastrointestinal system is happy!"